The final spot in Jim Leavitt’s starting 11 will be awarded to the Oregon hybrid defender, Tyree Robinson. He enters his final season in college with a purpose. This is the 11th and final piece of our 11-part defensive projection series.
We are just 30 days away from Oregon’s first game against Southern Utah on Saturday, September 2 at Autzen Stadium.
Here are my projections for the defensive and offensive starters of Willie Taggart’s 2017-18 team. Let’s get caught up with what you missed:
JIM LEAVITT’S 11
SAFETY - Brenden Schooler (Monday)
CORNERBACK - Arrion Springs (Tuesday)
LINEBACKER - Troy Dye (Wednesday)
DEFENSIVE TACKLE - Scott Pagano (Thursday)
DEFENSIVE END - Henry Mondeaux (Friday)
DEFENSIVE END - Jalen Jelks (Saturday)
LINEBACKER - Jimmie Swain (Sunday)
LINEBACKER - A.J. Hotchkins (Monday)
CORNERBACK - Ugo Amadi (Tuesday)
CORNERBACK - Thomas Graham Jr. (Wednesday)
STARTING HYBRID, TYREE ROBINSON
Oregon’s defensive coordinator loves to play with his best athletes on the field, regardless of their “designated” position. Leavitt has plenty of athletes with versatility, which should lead to some exotic defensive formations.
In the Pac-12 Conference where the opposition loves to run spread formations with heavy three-receiver sets, Robinson is a perfect fit for Leavitt’s 3-4 defense. His speed, tackling ability and play recognition should bridge the gap as a hybrid linebacker/cornerback/safety for Oregon.
Robinson is 6-foot-4 with a strong body. He made an impressive midseason transition from safety to cornerback during the 2015 season. The Ducks went on to win six straight games.
His versatility always led me to believe he could play an outside linebacker “hybrid role” or the nickel back. Most times, you don’t see a nickel back in the starting lineup of a 3-4 defense, but Robinson’s length gives Leavitt numerous options. At times, his defensive set could look more like a 3-3-5 formation.
Last season, Robinson again made the switch from safety to cornerback in the midst of starting 11 of 12 Oregon games. He finished fourth on the team in tackles (53) and tied for a team-high with six pass deflections. The San Diego product intercepted one pass, but it preserved a win vs Arizona State after returning it 84 yards.
It wasn’t so much his statistics that blew people away, but his durability. In 2016-17, Robinson was on the field more than any other Duck defensive player. Overall, he was a part of 984 total snaps. He logged a season-high 124 snaps in a double overtime loss to California.
He will benefit from two years of moving around, but a consistent role could see him excel into one of Oregon’s best defenders this season. In any type of zone, from cover 2 to cover 4, Robinson understands his assignment and could thrive in the right spot.
Nobody is going to question the speed and athleticism on the field for the Ducks’ defense this year.
THE FINAL VERDICT
Robinson will finish with 70 tackles, 52 solo and 4.5 tackles for loss. He will deflect 13 passes, including 4.5 sacks, three interceptions, and two fumble recoveries. The hybrid nickel back will lead the team in snaps played once again. His electric senior campaign will earn him All-Pac-12 1st Team honors, alongside a solid pay day at the next level.
This completes our 11-part defensive series. On to the next, Willie Taggart’s Starting 11 offensive series will begin on Monday.