Pac-12: Marvin Johnson

Q&A: Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti

April, 30, 2010
4/30/10
3:00
PM ET
Part II of a Q&A with Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti.

Read Part I here.

Let's take it through the three levels: How does the defensive line stack up? Obviously, we know about end Kenny Rowe and tackle Brandon Bair. Who steps in for end Will Tukuafu and tackle Blake Ferras?

NA: It's a little bit too early to tell but I think that Zac Clark, in my mind, cemented himself as one of the top tackles, probably a starter at this point. And the combination of Dion Jordan and Terrell Turner will take Tukuafu's place. Who will end up starting there? It may be series by series. We'll just have to see what happens when we get back here in the fall. The D-line I feel very good about. I have no worries about where our D-line is, even though we lost some very good football players. I like what we've done. I like how we've progressed. We're on track to be as good as we were last year.

Heard a lot about Dion Jordan as just a pure physical specimen. Tell me what he's done transitioning from a tight end to a defensive end.

NA: The guy is just relentless. He chases the ball. For a smaller guy -- in that he doesn't weigh a whole lot [listed at 223 though he's likely closer to 240] -- he knows how to use leverage and his body very well and can run like the wind. He can really, really move. He's going to be a surprise. A lot of people are going to say, 'Wow, where did this guy come from?' I think he's the surprise of spring camp. I'm very pleased with him. He's an excellent pass rusher. He's really doing more than I thought he'd do, physically, at the line of scrimmage. So that's exciting.

You guys seem wealthy at linebacker -- a lot of speed -- what's going on there? Spencer Paysinger and Casey Matthews are established guys, what about at strongside linebacker?

NA: We're still going to have to figure that thing out, but it's not something I don't feel comfortable with. I like where we are there, too. What will happen is, when we get Josh Kaddu back, he and Boseko Lokombo and Bryson Littlejohn will fight that one out. But I feel good about those guys. You're catching me off of spring and not mid-way through the season, but I really like the way our defense played and practiced and I think we've got a chance to be pretty darn good.

I've read a couple of things about linebacker Michael Clay, too. Sounds like he'll see a lot of actions.

NA: No question. Michael Clay will get a lot of action. He played a lot for us last year, too. That's no surprise really. He came in here not acting like a freshman. He came in acting like he's been doing this all along. He'll help us with a lot of valuable downs next year.

The secondary: You guys had a whole bunch of injuries last year, but it seems like that's going to pay off now because a lot of young guys got playing time.

NA: Right. You know when I look at our defense, cutting to the chase, I think we are going to be just as talented on the D-line, if not more talented. We'll be faster. You never like to compare one team to the other, but I think we can be just as good and probably faster and obviously more experienced than what we were. The linebacker crew, with Kaddu and Bo at SAM, that gave us an opportunity to move Eddie Pleasant back into the secondary [from starting linebacker]. We'll be just as strong at linebacker, though [backup middle linebacker] Kiko Alonso will be out for the year after tearing his knee. That hurts the two-deep on the inside a little bit. That's a bad injury for us. But we should be just as good there. And with [safety] John Boyett playing a lot of downs last year and [safeties] Javes Lewis and Marvin Johnson all playing because of T.J. Ward going down early that should help. With Pleasant back there, I feel real good about the safeties. When we get a healthy [cornerback] Talmadge Jackson back, he's a guy who's played a lot of football for us, and then we're looking at Cliff Harris, Anthony Gildon, Scott Grady and Terrance Mitchell who are going to be the other corner. We have a chance to be as good if not better than we were last year.

Safety and running back at issue for Oregon

September, 7, 2009
9/07/09
4:13
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller


Running back LeGarrette Blount might not be the only starter Oregon must replace for Saturday's tilt with Purdue.

Hard-hitting safety T.J. Ward suffered an ankle injury at Boise State and is questionable -- at best. Ward couldn't put any weight on his ankle when he was helped off the field.

Nonetheless, Ducks coach Chip Kelly, who has a policy of calling all injured players "day to day," said he was optimistic Ward might be available.

"I think [Ward] is confident he will play," Kelly said.

Redshirt freshman John Boyett stepped in for Ward against the Broncos, but it's possible the Ducks will shuffle their secondary if Ward can't go. One of the rovers -- Javes Lewis or Marvin Johnson -- could shift over.

As for running back, Kelly said LaMichael James, Kenjon Barner and Andre Crenshaw will be "1A, 1B and 1C."

"We'll see all three on Saturday," Kelly said. "They complement each other really well."

All three weigh less than 200 pounds, so they will be much different in running style compared to the 240-pound Blount, who has been suspended for the season but has the option of continuing to practice with the team.

Blount didn't practice Monday. Kelly said he was still considering his options.

Only James, a redshirt freshman, had a carry in the opener. He rushed twice for 22 yards and caught a pass for 3 yards.

Barner is a redshirt freshman who converted from cornerback during the preseason. Crenshaw, a senior, has rushed for 551 yards and scored five touchdowns over the previous three seasons.

"Andre is a proven player for us," Kelly said.

Junior Remene Alston is not an option because of academic issues.

Pac-10 lunch links: Writer predicts Corp will start vs. San Jose State

August, 26, 2009
8/26/09
5:30
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

I saw a sign at a gas station. It said 'help wanted.' There was another sign below it that said 'self service.' So I hired myself. Then I made myself the boss. I gave myself a raise. I paid myself. Then I quit.
Arizona has answered a number of questions, just not quarterback. Still waiting on right end Rob Gronkowski to return to practice.Arizona State takes hits to its offensive -- yikes -- and defensive lines with injuries and a three-game suspension of DE James Brooks.Andy Ludwig isn't just a baby sitter for California's offense.Big news for Oregon's secondary came out of its secret scrimmage Tuesday, per The Oregonian:Talmadge Jackson, who moved from cornerback to rover this summer and fall, has been moved back to corner. So he and Willie Glasper will split time at the corner opposite Walter Thurmond. T.J. Ward will start at free safety, and Marvin Johnson and Javes Lewis will split time at rover.
Oregon State quarterback Lyle Moevao still isn't ready to play. The schedule is better for the Beavers. A freshmanwill start on the O-line.Nice feature here by Elliott Almond on Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. Luck will be throwing to some talented but untested receivers.UCLA is still shuffling its offensive line, with Mike Harris re-entering the picture due to freshman Stanley Hasiak's "stinger." The Bruins' safety will either be to Dye for or all about the Love.Prediction: Aaron Corp will start against San Jose State on Sept. 5. USC is Quarterback U.Don James visits Washington's practice Tuesday -- it was a good one. How good is Daniel Te’o-Nesheim's supporting cast on the Washington D-line?Washington State's effort Tuesday didn't impress coach Paul Wulff, not to mention cornerback Brandon Jones sprained his ankle. Also, no word on who leads the quarterback competition between Marshall Lobbestael and Kevin Lopina. The LBs are deeper.Looking at the Pac-10 race.

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