The Ducks defense helped fend off a late push by the Beavers as Oregon came out of the 125th edition of their rivalry game with a 38-29 win. While the defense struggled to make stops at the end of the game, their three points allowed in the first half took OSU out of the game. Here are three playmakers that helped secure the victory for the Ducks.
1. Brandon Dorlus-Defensive Line
Dorlus only had two tackles in Saturday's game, but one of them was on a third down that forced a Beavers punt with the Ducks up 7-0. The Ducks scored the following drive and created momentum that they would hold onto for the entire game.
His ability to help create pressure against OSU was crucial for the Ducks in the game. He was credited with one quarterback hurry but also gained a lot of attention from the OSU line, which allowed the rest of the defensive line to make plays.
The defensive line as a whole did a great job holding B.J. Baylor and the Beavers' run game to under 100 yards, which was crucial in slowing down one of the conference's most efficient offenses.
Dorlus could be the biggest defensive piece to return next season, as the Ducks will lose their big star Kayvon Thibodeaux. If Dorlus stays at Oregon, the Ducks will still have a big star within their defensive line.
2. Verone McKinley III-Safety
Other than a targeting scare, McKinley had a good performance in the secondary. He almost snagged an interception, but it was knocked free after he ran into his own teammate. He also made a couple good tackles throughout the game ending the night with six tackles, five of which were solo.
Despite coming close to missing the first half of the conference championship game on Friday, his targeting call late in the fourth quarter was rescinded.
The general of the Ducks' defense will look to force a turnover when Oregon takes on Utah, because takeaways were something that was lacking the first time around.
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3. Kayvon Thibodeaux-Defensive End
Thibodeaux’s last game in Autzen was another impressive performance. Like Dorlus, his ability to get pressure on the quarterback helped the Ducks defense force a couple overthrows from Chance Nolan.
Thibodeaux ended the night with five tackles, three of which were solo and he was credited with three quarterback hurries. The only area that he'll hope to improve from Saturday were some uncharacteristic neutral zone infraction penalties.
The junior is going to have to figure out a way to get more involved on Friday than he did last time the Utes and the Ducks faced off. Against the Utes the first time, Utah’s offensive line absolutely neutralized Thibodeaux with double teams and quick throws from Cameron Rising.
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