Oregon's defense has been a mixed bag so far this season, largely displaying a bend-don't-break play style. Obviously, the defense wants to be more stout in all aspects, but forcing turnovers at key moments has been a calling card this season.
One area this defense has struggled with all year is the pass rush. It's worth mentioning this defense has only seen one half of football at full strength, but the show goes on, injuries or not.
Now coming off a bye week, the Ducks are getting healthier and will welcome back freshman defensive end Bradyn Swinson, who hasn't played since week two against Ohio State. In that game, he was one of just two players to register a sack.
In two games this season he's recorded 10 total tackles, two tackles for loss, and two sacks.
With Swinson set to return against Cal, the Ducks will need everything he's got, as they'll be without defensive star Kayvon Thibodeaux in the first half after he was ejected late in the Stanford game on a targeting call.
Defensive Coordinator Tim DeRuyter said Sunday that Swinson's return to the lineup will be 'huge.'
"Bradyn, getting him back will be huge for us. Especially with KT having to sit the first half. He [Swinson] had done some really good things, particularly in that Ohio State game when KT wasn't ready to play those couple of weeks. To lose both those guys [Thibodeaux and Bennett Williams], now you're down to the next guy up, obviously your depth takes a hit."
Fortunately for Oregon, Swinson isn't the only player on defense that made the most of the bye week. Multiple key pieces will help bolster the defensive depth to get back on track against Cal.
"Getting him [Swinson] back, hopefully getting Mase [Funa] back closer to full speed, where he had a week to heal up last week. Getting Adrian Jackson and Jake Shipley back, as those guys have been dinged up. All those guys needed that rest, needed that time to get back and we'll need 'em all because we're playing an excellent team that understands what we do defensively very well and we know it's gonna be quite a challenge."
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Cal is also coming off a bye week after a loss to Washington State. In the loss to the Cougars the offense put up 273 yards of total offense, with 152 coming through the air, and 121 on the ground.
Through five games, the Golden Bears have surrendered 11 sacks and have just a 40.91% (27/66) conversion rate on third down.
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