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Grading the Oregon Defense vs. Arizona

The Ducks' defense forced its most interceptions in a game since 1999 against the Wildcats.

The No. 3 Oregon Ducks (4-0, 1-0) remained undefeated on the season thanks to a 41-19 win over Arizona (0-4, 0-1) Saturday evening.

Despite the final score, the game was a lot closer than at first glance, with the Ducks only holding a five-point advantage heading into the fourth quarter.

But hey, a win is a win. Here's how the defense grades out during Oregon's Week 4 game.

Defensive Line and Outside Linebackers: D

The Oregon defensive line played pretty awfully.

Heading into Saturday, the Wildcats hadn't ran for more than 106 yards in a game. Against Oregon, Arizona nearly doubled that with 202 yards rushing for 3.8 yards-per-carry. The success on the ground, which begins with Arizona's offensive line getting consistent push against the Ducks' defensive line, gave the Wildcats offense more manageable third-down situations. 

Before Saturday's game, the Wildcats ranked last in the country on third down, having only converted 9-of-45. Against the Ducks, Arizona converted 7-of-15 third downs and all four attempts on fourth down. 

That starts with the defensive line failing to stop Arizona on the ground or get a consistent pass rush. Arizona allowed just one sack for -3 yards.

DJ Johnson, Mase Funa, Treven Ma'ae, and Keyon Ware-Hudson all had one tackle for loss. 

The outside linebackers appeared to struggle to set the edge, however, needing the nickel position to bail them out on some jet sweeps. 

If the defensive line plays like this next weekend, it'll be a long day against Stanford. 

Inside Linebackers: B-

With Justin Flowe reportedly out for the regular season, highly touted freshmen Noah Sewell and Keith Brown will be seeing loads of playing time at inside linebacker. The reigning Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year recorded 14 tackles which easily lead the team. Brown added four of his own after being held out of the Stony Brook game.

Sixth-year senior Nate Hueaukulani appeared to play well, too, recording seven tackles and snagging his first career interception. 

The linebackers could have been more effective at rushing the passer out of blitz packages, but in the end they mostly did their job. 

Secondary: A+

Listen, the cornerbacks and safeties combined for four interceptions as a secondary. That's an absurd total and automatically gives them an A+ grade, even if the team played softer than fans would like, allowing for Arizona to move the chains more easily.

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As Oregon has all season, the defense elected to bend but never broke coming away with multiple stops in the red zone. 

Bennet Williams had arguably his best game as an Oregon Duck recording two interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) and finishing second on the team in tackles with eight (six solo). 

Verone McKinley III also recorded an interception for the third consecutive week but ran out of bounds at the two-yard line, setting up an Arizona safety on the next Oregon offensive possession. Still, the snag prevented a touchdown. 

Mykael Wright also came away with an interception inside the end zone, as well as recording six tackles (five solo) and one tackle-for-loss. 

Steve Stephens was third on the team in tackles with seven and had one tackle-for-loss. 

Tim DeRuyter's defense aims to get three turnovers every game. Getting five on Saturday was unreal, largely thanks to the secondary making the most of their opportunities. 

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