The Oregon Ducks do not have many questions on defense going into 2012. Solid front to back and left to right, Nick Aliotti's unit has the attention of the college football experts as the Ducks attempt another Pac-12 championship.
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On an Oregon roster replete with solid defenders, senior linebacker Michael Clay is one of the best. Finishing the 2011 season second in the Pac-12 with 102 tackles despite missing three games due to an injury, the Bellarmine Prep standout has been honored for achievement both on the field and in the classroom.
Duck Sports Authority spoke with one of Oregon's primary defensive leaders to get his insights and analysis.
Who are the young linebackers catching your eye?
"Rodney Hardrick, Anthony Wallace, Rahim Cassell, Tyson Coleman playing on the outside with Bo leading him. Those guys, they are stepping up and they are going to need to step up if we're going to have a rotation like we've had the last three years."
How do you like being a coach on the field?
"I have to. There are only so many coaches with 105 players. They have to rely on the veteran guys to help the younger guys get where they need to get and understand a lot of the concept that we're running."
Do you care much about the hype surrounding the defense this year?
"We hear about it, we have ears, but we like to just go out there, put our hardhats on and just go out 110% every day and get better."
What is your goal for this season?
"To be Pac-12 champions again. Four straight is sort of unheard of besides the USC dynasty. We want to go out there and be Pac-12 champions."
Duck Sports Authority subscribers can view the video interview in its entirety for additional insights from Oregon's stellar senior.