Oregon Returns Wealth of Experience Along Defensive Line for 2022 Season

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After getting dismantled by Utah twice in three weeks at the point of attack, it was more evident than ever Oregon’s defensive line needs to play better in 2022 to help the program get back on top in the Pac-12. 

Now, it’s up to Oregon defensive line coach Tony Tuioti to turn the 2022 crop of talent into a dominant force within Dan Lanning’s defense. 

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“I’m looking for guys who play with hard effort, guys that are relentless and guys that are tough,” he said during spring practice. “We’re not even close to where we want to be yet. That’s what spring ball is all about.”

Despite the departures of Jayson Jones (Auburn) and Kristian Williams (Missouri), the Ducks still expect to have enough quality players to compete for a Pac-12 title.

Expect a constant rotation of sophomore Keanu Williams, sixth-year senior Popo Aumavae, and junior Keyon Ware-Hudson, as all three saw consistent playing time in 2021, along with Sam Taimani who joins the team after transferring from Washington.

Oregon Ducks defensive tackle Popo Aumavae missed all of spring practice as he recovers from injury.

Scott Boldt/Ducks Digest

Williams saw action in 14 games played with 16 total tackles including three solo, along with a single pass defended, and then during spring football Tuioti spotlighted him as a player he’s seen improve.

Ware-Hudson gave similar production in ten games played with 14 total tackles (seven solo) and three tackles-for-loss. 

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Aumavae lead the way with 36 total tackles (16 solo) and three tackles-for-loss. 

Huskies transfer Taimani had 43 total tackles (19 solo) and two passes defended. in 2021 Then, he impressed Tuoiti during spring football.

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“He’s a guy who’s played in this conference before, so he’s battled tested,” said the Oregon defensive line coach. “We’re going to need that experience, especially with the group that we’ve got going on this spring.”

Taking a bird’s eye view of the defensive line position group, it appears most likely these four players see the bulk of the snaps.

But that is why we play the games… errr the practices. 

Jackson Powers-Johnson split time on offense and defense throughout spring football and still is listed as an offensive and defensive lineman on the official Oregon roster. 

Oregon Ducks lineman Jackson Powers-Johnson vs. the UCLA Bruins.

Scott Boldt/Ducks Digest

“I just want to play football. I want to play wherever I can help this team, wherever I can,” Powers-Johnson said after Oregon’s spring scrimmage.

Jake Shipley played as well in 2021 and could get a large enough offseason leap to see more time on the field in 2022. 

Oregon defensive lineman Sua’ava Poti.

Scott Boldt/DucksDigest

Sua’ava Poti saw action in all 14 games during 2021, recording six tackles (three solo). 

Redshirt freshman Maceal Afaese hasn’t recorded a statistic while at Oregon but was a four-star prospect coming out of high school and looks ready to contribute.

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