Duck Sports Authority continues its Spring Camp preparation with a final evaluation and ranking of the 2007 position units. Coming in at #3 in the unit rankings is Defensive Backs.
Season Unit Analysis: Defensive Backs The defensive backfield went into 2007 generally viewed as the strength of the defense. Three starters were coming back, plus Matthew Harper had started games in 2006, plus Ryan DePalo appeared to be recovering from injury quicker than expected.
Summary Opinion: B+ The defensive backfield was the backbone of the defense all year long, though the other two units played equally well on a number of occasions. Staying healthy was one of the keys, as was all the proven players suiting up for the first game. This group performed extremely well with open field tackling and man coverage, although at times teams were able to find some space in the zones to sit down in. With outstanding coverage corners and equally good play from the safeties, this unit was one of the stronger groups in the country.
Patrick Chung JR - 117 tackles, 7.5 tfl, 2 INT, 7 BrUp, FF, 13 games. Made the decision to stay for his senior year despite an excellent junior season.
Walter Thurmond SO - 103 tackles, 8 tfl, 5 INT, 18 BrUp, FR, FF, 13 games. Could end his career as one of Oregon's best corners ever if he keeps improving.
Matthew Harper - SR - 98 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 INT, 9 BrUp, 2 FF, 13 games. Kept Ryan DePalo off the field with solid play.
Jairus Byrd - SO - 65 tackles, 4 tfl, 7 INT, 15 BrUp, 3 FR, FF, 13 games. Byrd has great athleticism but at times gave his man a lot of space.
Willie Glasper - SO - 25 tackles, tfl, FR, 13 games. Didn't get much playing time at a deep position.
T.J. Ward - SO - 21 tackles, 1 tfl, BrUp, FR, 13 games. Showed plenty of potential in practice and when given a chance.
Marvin Johnson - FR- 10 tackles, 12 games. Proved he will contend for playing time soon.
Talmadge Jackson- FR - 9 tackles, 13 games. Jackson has the talent to emerge but is behind some excellent players.
Ryan DePalo - SR - 7 tackles, 8 games. Was never able to get onto the field after recovering from injury as a result good play ahead of him.
Key Statistics: This unit brought down half the ball carriers in 2007, though it is natural they got the vast majority on passing plays. Nonetheless, this group did a good job of keeping the ball in front of them. They were not asked to go after the quarterback very often.
% of team tackles: 49
Unit tfl/game: 1.8
Unit sacks/game: 0.2
Season Improvement Rating: Steady (+0.01) This was an experienced group with tons of talent, so they would not be expected to improve drastically over the course of the season. This group only had two games outside the A to B range, one being Arizona the other Washington. Youth did not get on the field due to the health of the starters.
Best 2007 Game: UCLA The Bruins were able to complete only four of seventeen passes against a defensive backfield that blanketed the Bruins. Jairus Byrd made a leaping one-handed grab in the end zone for an interception that denied the Bruins a touchdown, and Walter Thurmond added. Pat Chung led the team in tackles and Matt Harper added a pair of break ups in what was as good a performance as you can ask for from a secondary.
Unit MVP: Patrick Chung This award almost went to Walter Thurmond who deserves it too. It was very close. Patrick Chung got the nod because he excelled on the field then followed it up by setting a great example to others by staying for his senior season. His draft projection may have affected his decision, but nonetheless staying another year was great for all Ducks. Chung has the ability to be an unbelievable playmaker, even more so than 2007. He even had a few games which could have been considered "quiet" by his standards. If he steps up for every game in 2008, everybody will follow.
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