EUGENE, Ore. - A team's defense can the get the ball back to their offense in a few ways: either get a takeaway, stop the opposing offense on third down which may force a punt, or stop the offense on fourth down.
Entering Saturday's contest with Arizona, the Ducks rank third nationally in third down conversion percentage defense, holding opponents to seven conversions on 45 attempts (15 percent). The Ducks say the reason behind that is how well they do on the previous two downs.
"The keys are winning first down first of all so you can put them in a third and longer situation," said defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti. "You're not going to win many third and ones and third and twos."
"Winning first and second down," said senior linebacker Michael Clay. "We're able to back them up. (When) you've got great pass rushers in Dion Jordan and Boseko Lokombo, you're going to get some hits on the quarterback. He's going to have to hurry and check out of some things. They want to go vertically, but they'll have to go horizontally and we just rally to the ball."
"We've just got to make sure that we stop them on first down and make the next two downs what they really have to work for," said junior strong safety Brian Jackson.
If the Ducks are going to be successful on third down against the Wildcats on Saturday night, they're going to have to contain Arizona's dual threat quarterback Matt Scott who ranks fourth in the nation in total offense (395 ypg).
"We're going to have to be conscious of him pulling the ball down and taking off with it," said Clay.