Oregon freshman Brady Breeze will start at safety in Jim Leavitt’s 3-4 defense this year. Following Brenden Schooler’s position change from safety to wide receiver in fall camp, an opening at safety has been created.
We are just 27 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)
HYBRID LB/CB/S - Tyree Robinson (Thursday)
STARTING SAFETY, BRADY BREEZE
“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”
Thinking my defensive projection series was over, Leavitt threw me a nasty Uncle Charlie that buckled my knees when Schooler made the switch from defense to offense this week. Adjustments needed to be made.
Insert the freshman from Lake Oswego who was redshirted last year. Breeze was rivals.com No. 1 overall prospect from the state of Oregon. He was one of 50 All-American’s selected to participate in the U-19 National Team at the 2016 International Bowl.
Most Oregonians know of Breeze’s potential on the field, so there isn’t much need to sell his case. However, he does have some solid competition at safety. Khalil Oliver and Tyree Robinson have both started at the position in the past and are seeking a strong campaign in 2017. In most scenarios, all three will share time on the field.
“He has great ball skills, really strong hands and he can run,” Taggart replied. “All the things you’re looking for and he has some size. I’m really excited to see him continue to grow at that position and see how the Herbert-Schooler combination helps us.”
As mentioned before, Leavitt transitioned play calling duties from the linebacker to the safety position when he arrived at Oregon. Therefore, the freshman would have a great deal of responsibility on his shoulders, much like his Central Catholic career.
Breeze has been impressive through six days of camp and that is what gave the coaching staff the confidence to make the switch. After Taggart noticed the Ducks were lacking some athletes at wide receiver, he welcomed Schooler and created a three-man fight at safety. Leave it to the new coach to always create competition.
“We have some depth there (safety), only so many can play,” said Taggart. “Overall, we just got to see what’s best for our football team. We felt like putting Schooler over there could help our football team.”
THE FINAL VERDICT
As the second freshman starting on the defense, Thomas Graham Jr. and Breeze should thrive under Leavitt’s guidance. In fact, Breeze will collect 70 tackles, 45 solo, seven pass deflections, three interceptions, two fumble recoveries and one sack. The freshman will be praised by the Pac-12 Conference for his stellar defensive play on two separate occasions during the season.
NOW, this really completes our 11-part defensive series. On to the next, Willie Taggart’s Starting 11 offensive series will begin on Tuesday.