Jake Ziven of KEZI Channel 9 in Eugene is one of the best "cover guys" in the market for Duck football. He's usually positive and brings great energy to his reports and features, and in the pool interviews, he's often the one who asks the one question for which Duck fans were dying to hear an answer.
This Wednesday during the recruiting press conference, Ziven asked, "You and your coaches have been out recruiting and we haven't had a chance to talk about it. Why Don Pellum?"
Teaching with a purpose: now that recruiting is completed, Don Pellum takes over as Oregon defensive coordinator, and he stands out as serious, organized and prepared, a people person, but a stickler for fundamentals and discipline (goducks.com photo).
It isn't that coach Pellum wasn't qualified or won't do a good job. As fans, it's just easier to endorse a hire and support it whole-heartedly with some insight into how the decision was made and what stood out about the eventual choice. During the selection process all manner of nationally-known candidates were floated as possibilities, and at the announcement of Nick Aliotti stepping down, Rob Mullens indicated Oregon would conduct a national search.
Helfrich's reasoning in this short clip adds a lot credibility to the choice. The head coach said what stood out about Pellum as a position coach was the discipline and organization in his unit. Every player on time for the meeting, ready for the special teams meeting. All the backpacks lined up, every player with the right handouts and information. Coach asked, "why doesn't everybody do it that way?"
And Pellum answered, "I'm not in charge of everybody." Well now he is.
This isn't a knock on last year's team or Nick Aliotti's record as Oregon defensive coordinator. Coach Al won three BCS bowls and oversaw the rise of Oregon football from years when 6-5 was a great year to an era where 11 and 12 wins became the standard. But with the talent and facilities Oregon has now, and the expectations, a dose of organization and discipline, a coach who excels at getting everyone lined up and dialed-in sounds like a recipe for getting the most out of this defensive roster.
In 2014 Pellum will have the challenge of incorporating some talented newcomers into the scheme. He'll need to identify six new starters and get the new defensive staff working cohesively, driving home the importance of preparing for every opponent, getting on the plane with purpose, focus and intensity.
The Ducks have to rebuild the defensive line after graduating Taylor Hart, Ricky Heimuli and Wade Keliikipi. The linebacker corps has to incorporate some new talent, and the secondary has to be completely rebuilt, albeit with Ifo Ekpre-Olomu as a hub.
Pellum's work habits and his approach, the emphasis on getting everyone lined up, on time and paying attention, sounds just right. His emphasis on the fundamentals and simplying things so that players understand and execute better will be critically important.
Duck fans expect great things from the 2014 team, and hearing this anecdote, the hopes seem more tangible.
Pellum spoke at length to the media when his hiring was announced back on January 14th. He talked extensively about discipline and a business-like approach. His pride was evident, and so was a commitment to representing the program with determination and seriousness. "I'm a grinder," he said. He impresses immediately as articulate, focused. It was encouraging to see him defer to the head coach in certain areas. "That's a Coach Helfrich question," he would say, suggesting that the chain of command and the media message might have a tighter focus going forward, after some needless distractions this last season.
Hearing him talk at length, really for the first time after working in the background for most of his career, you can't help but have a deeper respect for him.
It's parenthetical to his qualifications and capabilities, but the fact that he is Oregon's first African-American coordinator is an important milestone also. He'll be a role model and a pace setter, provide opportunities for other highly qualified candidates in the future.
The fact that John Neal stayed on, vowing to finish his career at Oregon, is a double bonus.
Glad to see Helfrich was so impressed by everyone's backpacks being lined up nice and neat. Just being "Sarge" isn't going to help much. Ask the Portland Trailblazers. I think the dline coach may be the biggest project rather than a player or group of players. I did not here good comments about his coaching ability, his picking up the Oregon system very well and felt recruiting for dlinemen came pretty late. What saved the recruiting was a USC commit that didn't feel loved and contacted the UofO himself. There won't being many gifts like that going forward.
All right Coach D, and now I wen't from totally discouraged to to totally PUMPED UP with what Don will do to get this Defense ATTACKING Offenses again and play your CBs in MAN Coverage like we used to do here with way less Talent. GO DUCKS and it sounds like a perfect plan to get back to that amazing year when we almost sealed the deal against Auburn. Just help get this Team to the 4 Team Playoff and then I wouldn't be surprised if the Duckie's actually go out and win it this time. WTN!
One thing about that 0-7 scheme, those guys get 2-3 steps to power smash that O line, who are already thinking too much – like 'what the f..?" I recall big fella Blount needing a few steps to get it in high hurdling gear. Am I high? Only on coffee and a cinnamon twist.
On a more serious note, it IS always good to consider the advantages/disadvantages of any possibility. Think outside the box. One of the things I always loved about Chip.
I like the attitude with discipline. These young men need leadership. Probably does not bode well for Troy Hill. We all wait to see how he handles the D-Line. I doubt he goes with DrakeMallards idea for a 0-7 D Line set but who knows?
Great insight that he took the Cal job to appreciate the Oregon Way. We are in excellent hands at DC and looking forward to an effective 3-4, 2-5, 1-6 or 0-7 D line set with confidence.
Don's articulate and seems to be businesslike and disciplined. I don't see him making headlines by speaking without thinking, like his predecessor. He seems to have spunk, which is mandatory for defensive coordinator (and head coach). Hopefully, he'll develop into a coach who coaches to his teams strengths and abilities. I wish him well.
I think Don Pellum will be the next Charlie strong defense or "must" champ defense. I think he will be excellent and john Neal believes into too and came along for the ride. Go ducks
Considering the tone of a couple of your articles earlier this year, concerning the Pellum hire, this is truly a quantum shift Dale. I like it, and I agree with it.
Almost as much as I like the vision for the future that DP brings to the program, and the apparent tools he (and now Helfrich) will be using to achieve those goals. For as good as many of NA's defenses were, they also had a tendency to bring about frustration at times, and I think we all felt there were times when they tended to overlook the obvious.
I, like you, see Pellum's discipline and consistency showing up on the playing field come Saturdays this fall.
And I'm REALLY looking forward to it. Last year, I think many of us held our collective breaths when MH and Frosty took the reins of the offense, but I believe those qualms (for the most part) have been put to rest. Oddly enough, I don't have near the reservations about where we're headed defensively in 2014, that I had last year, concerning the overall program. I believe Pellum's recognition of our deficiencies in size/strength, speed (of decision making), fundamentals and control of the LOS align with pretty much every qualm I have had in the recent past with our defense.
Although there are times when I wonder if Mark is still "treading water" with the program as a whole, I see the Pellum hire as a very positive step in the process of achieving, or advancing our national prominence. I believe there is a lot that Don Pellum will teach Mark Helfrich before it's over.
The Pellum hire, and Ron Aiken being up to speed in "The Oregon Way," will go a long way toward getting us back in the running for that National Championship that we all want sooooo badly.
Now, about those D-Line recruits,....................
Glad to see the belief that Coach Helfrich and the rest of the Oregon staff might know what they are doing. I was also intrigued by the names being floated (mostly by fans) for the DC slot, but in the end I felt enormous pride that Oregon again promoted from within and picked a guy that from everything I know will do a great job. Perhaps that's a bit optimistic, but until proven wrong, I'm staying with it.
@sozeduck Soze, you're the Sarge here at DSH, the guy most likely to take a skeptical view on most issues, but that's good. Azzinaro seemed to be more effective and dynamic with the defensive line. Something to watch closely in year two, beginning with spring practice. Interested to see what the communication and effectiveness is like between Pellum and Aiken in crafting a working plan for that front seven.
@DougMai Attacking is the key to that whole deal.
You know also we may not of got that BIG Body yet, but there are people on the O Line like Jake Picarsik that is indeed Big enough too switch and play DT but he also plays with a MEAN Streak and thats something these kids need is a aggressive type of guy playing Down and Dirty AMA Ground and Pound, I will be excited too see this D get Physical, I mean I love this Offense and it should be even better than last year with Coach Lubick teaching all these Stud Receivers, but who doesn't like a SHUT DOWN D with Attitude?
@rgyle Speed kills! The 0-7 will baffle and befuddle the smashmouth teams. Ducks will take a cue from Rocky and be quick like a chicken.
@SonomaDuck Hill is serving out his discipline and court-mandated training and community service, and he may successfully work through this as a learning opportunity. He's a good pound-for-pound football player. Speaking of the 0-7, did you ever see film of the A-11 offense? It's a spread to the 10th power. Everyone eligible.
I like that as well, teams play like they practice, and we heard that last season’s practices tended to be loose and that came through in their play. I don’t see a return to the Bear Bryant days when players went without water, but if players are conditioned to be concerned about how their backpacks look, it will become second nature to be alert during games.
@DrakeMallard I was impressed by his commitment and thoughtfulness meeting the media for the first time as defensive coordinator. I think he earned this promotion and he will prove himself to be very capable.
@DrakeMallard I think the 0-7 defense is the next big thing in college football. I would like to see the Ducks run this almost all of the time. Everybody up and moving around will completely revolutionize defense. You negate offensive blocking schemes if no one is lined up directly in front of your linemen. Speed trumps size if the O linemen have to run to make their first block. Blitzing would be much easier and you could see ball handling much better. You have ends, tackles and linebackers weaving in and out, back and forth, constantly on the move. This is the next big innovation.
@duckified I agree, df. I think his style and deportment are a better fit for Helfrich, and there will be more consistency and a tighter chain of command.
@redtail2003 One of the Ducks most effective defenses was the group coached by Charlie Waters in the late 90s
RG, I try to be open to different points of view, new information and looking at things from different angles. I didn't like the hire at first. I thought the Ducks needed an infusion of new blood on defense, or, if they wanted to hire from within, that John Neal, given his excellent track record with the secondary, was the more likely choice.
Having heard Pellum address the media and Helfrich discussing his reasons, I'm willing to reconsider my position. I'm very excited for the spring game and a first look at the defense and the 2014 team.
@Raygun383 Great comment, Raygun.
"I believe there is a lot that Don Pellum will teach Mark Helfrich before it's over." Hear, hear to that. And good on Mark for hiring someone who can demonstrate that Rich Brooks toughness. Like Dale, I was a bit dismayed at first with the DP hire. A lot of that was due to my ignorance of Mr. Pellum. He just quietly did his job for years. I think one thing he alone will bring, vs. an outside hire, is an deep understanding of what has been working, and what needs to change. Can't wait to see his D.
@goducks58 The choice was a bit of a surprise given their initial declaration to conduct a national search. Now that the decision is made, we'll get to see what Pellum produces now that he is in fact in charge of everybody.
@DougMai Coaches like Pisarchik, but I think he'll stay on the o-line, where depth is just as critical. He's a guy who really blossomed as a senior, grew a bunch, and the Ducks got him under the radar. Father is a former NFL player. May make the rotation this year.