Oregon Football

Heyward talks Safeties

August 6, 2018

The Ducks defense showed tremendous improvement last season. There is still work to be done but the Duck D was able to show improvement in nearly every major category.

Last year the defense was led by Jim Leavitt. This year Leavitt returns but Keith Heyward will join him as co-DC in addition to his safeties coach title.

Heyward talked about what he sees from this team so far in year two of a similar defense.

"I think we got a really good team," Heyward told media. "We're still putting everything together but the guys are definitely carrying over a lot of the things we're doing with the culture, with effort. Just being disciplined with what we are asking them to do. So it's been very encouraging to see."

What will it take for Oregon's defense to improve this season once again?

"I think the ceiling for this defene is going to come down to us executing. Making sure we stay healthy. Going into year two guys, at this time, guys have been doing the same defense it's been really good. I'm encouraged when I'm watching 1-on-1's, just watching the safeties seeing them actually carrying over the techniques from 1-on-1's, or I should say to 1-on-1's from our individual drills. I would imagine that's happening in other position groups when they're watching too. Just the stuff you're seeing from guys tackling and guys doing what you're asking them to do."

The safety group saw the inclusion of Ugo Amadi after moving over from corner. He's become a leader in the back end according to coach Heyward.

"Ugo's done a great job leading all Summer. He's definitely going to be key. We just have him, he's controlling the group, making all the calls. He's just doing everything right. So he's going to be big with some of the younger guys."

There has been quite a bit of shuffling with the safety group so far this Fall. Heyward was quick to note that's not a depth chart for the season. 

"What we have is an orginaztional chart. It's not necessarily a first group. We just have guys practicing in different positions with different groups so they are forced to communicate with each other."

Coach Heyward was asked about what he's seen from his group through the first few days. 

"I feel great about all the guys. From Brady (Breeze) even Jevon Holland, who's a new guy. It's very encouraging to see all of these guys learn the play book and then carry it over to the team periods. The older guys have definitely been helping the younger guys." 

He was later asked if any of his safety players could be moved to the corner group this season.

"Anything's possible. We want to find our best 11 guys and make sure they are on the field to help us win."

What he's seen from the newcomers so far.

"From Jevon (Holland) just great cover ability. He's a son of a coach so his football IQ has been really good at picking up the defense. He's just a really 'heady' ball player. And Steve (Stephens) he's just gotten better with the techniques and the learning of the defense. Showing he can run a little bit more and being more confident with making the calls."

And wrapping things up Heyward was asked about recruiting and how the Ducks have been able to be so successful on the recruiting trail.

"We're working hard as a group, as a coaching staff building relationships with those young men and their families. To be honest that's where it's at today (top four ranking), but we want it to stay there on National Signing day and that's what we're shooting for. The Cali Flock is awesome but anyone that decides to join our family we're glad to have them."

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