The Oregon defense may have said their goodbyes to Dion Jordan, Kiko Alonso and John Boyett this past year — all of whom moved onto the NFL — but they still have a lot of depth that is itching to get on the field. While the Ducks are still figuring out who the starters will be for the upcoming season opener against Nicholls State, Defensive Coordinator Nick Aliotti is ready to use up to two to three players in each position, which makes for a rotation that is comparable to those seen in hockey. Depth and diversity have always been embraced at Oregon under Aliotti, and it doesn’t look like that will change anytime soon.
“You’re not ever going to replace the third pick in the draft with the next year,” Aliotti said. “But as much as I love Dion — and I do love Dion — Tony has done an outstanding job. I’m very pleased with Tony Washington, very pleased.”
“On the outside we have experience,” Aliotti said. “But on the inside, we’re just not as deep because Deric and Rodney have to replace Kiko and Michael Clay, and those guys were really, really good. It’s not an excuse, it’s not to say we’re not going to be up to par as we grow, but those are two really good football players that are hard to replace, but they will be replaced eventually.”
“You’ll see we play like a hockey team,” Aliotti said. “When you see us play — those guys that have been around — we need to have anywhere from 22-25 guys that we can get ready.”
Coach Aliotti continued by breaking each position down into numbers.
“In a perfect world: 7-8 linemen, 8-9 inside/outside linebackers, 6-7 secondary guys, with that math, that adds up to 23 or 24, and that’s how we play.”
“It’s kind of funny; kids are hung up on who starts,” Aliotti said. “I know young men are really hung up on being the starter, but they all have to be starters. Best way I can explain it: 22-25 guys try to stay fresh like a hockey team and keep guys coming, so they’re all starters.”
In his 21 years of coaching, Aliotti hasn’t changed a bit in regards to his philosophy on how to produce a great defense. He hasn’t been known as a man that is ever satisfied with his players, which has been one of the main keys to his success as a defensive coordinator.