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Oregon Defensive Players to Watch vs. Arizona

The Ducks defense could have its best day yet in the conference opener against Arizona.

The No. 3 Oregon Ducks have used their defense to win ballgames through the first three weeks of the season. Timely stops and turnovers are a big reason why the Ducks are ranked so highly in the AP Poll.

Similar to last week, we could see many young players on the field in the second half of this game. Arizona's offense ranks at the bottom of nearly every statistical category in the Pac-12 and are in the middle of a 15-game losing streak, the longest in the FBS. It could be a field day for the Ducks' defense.

Here are a few names to remember for this Pac-12 After Dark matchup.

1. Mykael Wright - Field Cornerback

Mykael Wright (2) makes a stop against Stony Brook.

Mykael Wright (2) makes a stop against Stony Brook.

Mykael Wright will likely have the toughest assignment out of any defensive player for the Ducks in defending Stanley Berryhill III, the electric receiver for the Wildcats. Containing him will be a challenge because he's not just a deep threat that can expose a secondary down the field. He will carry the ball out of the backfield on jet sweeps and is a hard player to bring down when he catches the ball in the flat on a screens.

If Wright can shut him down, the Wildcats won't have many reliable options to throw to. Wright could find himself covering Tayvian Cunningham as well, who is another player that can make guys miss.

Quarterbacks don't always throw Wright's way because of his elite ball-hawking ability, which makes him a nightmare matchup for any wide receiver.

Also look for Wright to make a big kickoff return in this game. Arizona has not allowed anyone to return a kickoff this season, according to NCAA.com, but Wright is as much of a threat to take one to the crib as anyone in the country. He's due.

2. Jeffrey Bassa - WILL Linebacker

Jeffrey Bassa (33) warms up against Stony Brook.

Jeffrey Bassa (33) warms up against Stony Brook.

It wasn't certain that Jeffrey Bassa would get a lot of playing time early in the season. He's found himself on the organizational chart each week, but has shifted positions. He came to Eugene as a safety and was listed at the STAR position early in the year when Jamal Hill was suspended.

Then, after injuries to linebackers Dru Mathis and Justin Flowe in week 1, Bassa earned snaps at linebacker for the first time against Ohio State. He's now listed as the third-string WILL linebacker behind Keith Brown and Jabril McNeil

While he may not get too much playing time early in the game now that Brown is expected to start after missing the Stony Brook game, Bassa should get some reps throughout the second half at WILL. The position is still new for him, but he's attacking the film room harder than ever to learn the techniques and coverages.

It'll be interesting to see how Tim DeRuyter utilizes his skillset. Will he be more of a coverage backer? Will he be relied on to stop the run? Or will he be involved in blitz packages and get after the quarterback?

READ MORE: Jeffrey Bassa Opens Up on Moving to Linebacker

3. DJ Johnson - Defensive End/Tight End

DJ Johnson (12) lines up at defensive end against Stony Brook.

DJ Johnson (12) lines up at defensive end against Stony Brook.

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Didn't think you'd see his name here, did you?

If you've watched closely this year, you've noticed that Johnson, who's listed as a tight end, has gotten a few reps at defensive end. Most notably, he recorded the game-sealing sack of Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud on the final play of the game.

It's not too alarming that Johnson is lining up at defensive end. He was one of the best players in the state of California in the 2017 class, racking up 100 offers as a defensive end (Per his 247 Sports recruiting profile). He played on the edge at Miami and in each of his first two years at Oregon.

He's still listed as a co-starter at tight end on the organizational chart, but there's no doubt that he'll be used on defense as well, especially if Kayvon Thibodeaux and Bradyn Swinson are still sidelined due to injuries. The defensive line could use more production, and DeRuyter would love to see pressure off the edge from a starting tight end.

Our Max Torres asked Mario Cristobal what his role will look like moving forward earlier this week.

READ MORE: Is DJ Johnson Oregon's X-Factor?

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