It’s only been two days of spring practices, but the defensive side of the ball for the Oregon football team is exuding a different swagger under new defensive coordinator Don Pellum.
“We’re talking about playing with some confidence and a chip,” Pellum said following Tuesday’s practice. “In football, you’ve got to walk up with attitude and football is one of those sports that you can.”
Pellum, who is replacing Nick Aliotti after he retired this past year, has brought organization to the entire defense that is showing on the field in the early goings.
“The kids, they want to do well,” Pellum said in reference to his defense. “They just want direction and if you give them direction, lay it out and give them a clear path, then the good kids will do it and there’s evidence it’s starting to build.”
Organization was always a key with Pellum’s linebackers. He made his linebackers line up their backpacks before every meeting and now the entire defense does it.
“He applies it to everybody,” senior defensive end Tony Washington said. “He wants us to take care of the little things and that’s one thing that nobody thinks about.”
Yesterday, starting quarterback Marcus Mariota talked about how the defense dominated in practice against the offense. Head coach Mark Helfrich has also taken notice to the defenses performance in the first two practices.
“The defense is running around,” Helfrich said. “It’s a fresh situation for everybody. They are running around with discipline. They are excited, intense.”
Another element Pellum has aspired to institute in his defense is a sense of accountability. The added accountability has also had an effect on the communication between the players on the defense.
“I think the accountability, to the defense, has improved dramatically,” Pellum said. “You can tell guys know what they’re supposed to do. They’ve been studying in the offseason and in the first day of practice, yesterday, the communication was at a level we never achieved in the first two weeks of practice (last year).”
“You notice on the field how they’re communicating,” Helfrich said. “They’re doing a nice job. Again it’s day two, everybody is bouncing around. It’s fresh, it’s competitive and we have to maintain that.”
Follow Joseph Hoyt on Twitter @jhoyt42