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Oregon Defensive Player to Watch: DeForest Buckner

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Oregon's defense, while far from impressive at times, is anchored by an All-American defensive lineman who took home Pac-12 Defensive-Player-Of-The-Year honors.

Easy there Buckner, you're scaring us
Easy there Buckner, you're scaring us
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Look, Oregon's not known for defense. That moniker probably isn't always fair. It's true that they don't consistently have the best defense in the Pac-12, that's Stanford. What they have had recently is a defense consistently that consistently keeps teams out of the endzone. The last couple of years they have finished with the second best scoring defense in the Pac-12, despite being middle of the pack in terms of yardage given up. That pretty much exemplifies Oregon's defensive philosophy: bend, but don't break.

That hasn't exactly been the case this year. The Ducks finished second to last in the Pac-12 in scoring defense, passing defense and total defense. When their offense hasn't been able to outscore people, it's been difficult for them to win games. This is just one more in a growing list of similarities between the Ducks and the Horned Frogs in 2015.

Also in pretty much exact mirror image of TCU this year, Oregon's been especially weak in the secondary and the one area of their defense that was above average was against the run. The anchor of that run defense is Senior defensive end DeForest Buckner. At 300 lbs most people don't look all that athletic, but Buckner's 6'7" frame carries it pretty well.

Oregon's Most Outstanding Defensive Player, DeForest is second on the team in tackles with 78, something that you rarely heard said about a defensive end. He was also the recipient of First Team All American honors by USA Today and was named one of the six finalists for the Ted Hendricks Award, given annually to the best defensive end in college football. Further cementing his legacy as one of Oregon's best defensive players, the was just the second Duck since 1983 to be named the Pac-12 Defensive-Player-Of-The-Year.

In addition to leading the team in tackles, he also leads the Ducks in tackles for loss with 16, sacks with nine and a half, and six quarterback hurries. He makes great use of his hands in shedding blockers, but he's effective enough to bully his way past most offensive lineman with one hand tied behind his back. Due to a sprained wrist that he sustained earlier in the year, he basically accomplished that feat over the last few game of the season. With a month off, he should be healed up for the Alamo Bowl this weekend.

While DeForest is really good at getting into the backfield and causing havoc, he doesn't necessarily need to get get past his blocker to blow up a play. He's shown a knack this year for getting his hands up in passing lanes and disrupting offenses that way, recording five pass-breakups in 2015.

In the last game of the year, Oregon was up 31-7 on their in-state rival Oregon State and in the second half they let the Beavers come all the way back to within three point two separate times in the fourth quarter. They ended up winning the game by ten points, but that leave a lot of room to hope, even if Oregon gets up on them by a couple of scores. Slow down Buckner enough, and TCU should have no problem finding holes in Oregon's secondary.