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By Jason Vondersmith/Portland Tribune/Oregon's junior defensive tackles eye kickoff vs. Auburn

EUGENE — A lot of attention will be paid to defensive linemen in the Auburn-Oregon game (4:30 p.m. PT Saturday, AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas).

The Tigers have a stellar defensive line of Derrick Brown, Nick Coe and Marlon Davidson. Brown is considered one of the best interior defensive linemen in the country.

SCOTTWhich brings us to Oregon's three-year starters — Jordon Scott and Austin Faoliu. The junior defensive tackles are no slouches, and they'll be surrounded by good players in Gus Cumberlander, Drayton Carlberg, Gary Baker, Kayvon Thibodeaux and others.

"We've got a lot of stuff to prove," Faoliu said. "When you think of Oregon, you think of the offensive line and the quarterback (Justin Herbert). We're trying to make a name for ourselves."

Scott goes one step further.

"For the defense as a whole, it should be a great year," he said. "It should be one of the best years for Oregon defense ever."

The two big fellas in the middle of the D-line should be the anchors. Each started games as freshmen, as well as during their sophomore years.

In their third year, they'll have a new defensive coordinator in Andy Avalos, who wants to emphasize defensive linemen being aggressive and making plays, a la Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams, and not sitting back and plugging gaps. Faoliu likes the sound of that.

"Just come off and try to get TFLs (tackles-for-loss) and sacks," Faoliu said. "We can come off and not hold anything back. We know the plays."

Said Scott: "The front is more attacking and not just holding up gaps. There's not really a danger (in giving up plays). Just got to do your job at a high level."

The likes of linebackers Troy Dye and Isaac Slade-Matautia will have their back.

"There's never a hesitation to open up something and worry about (the runner) cutting back," Scott said.

Faoliu, from Santa Ana, California, and Scott, from Largo, Florida, have bonded since their 2017 arrival in Eugene.

"Jordon's like my brother," said Faoliu, whose brother, Andrew, also plays for the Ducks. "When we came in freshman year, I leaned on him. I saw things I needed help with; we kept helping each other out. We wanted to make names for ourselves and go big."

They are battlers in the trenches.

"We look at each other before every play and say, 'Let's do this, let's get into the O-linemen,'" Faoliu said.

Said Scott: "He's a good guy, and I'm trying to match his intensity. He's a real guy."

Faoliu is 6-3, 295 pounds.

Scott is 6-1, 325 pounds at latest check. He weighed 355 pounds when he joined the Ducks for spring ball 2017, and immediately drew praise from then-coach Willie Taggart and teammates. Dropping pounds has been part of his mission.

"I want to play at 315, but coaches say 325," he said. "I feel like the less I have to worry about my weight being a factor holding me back, the more I can control."

Scott is careful now about what he eats, and has shed the high school habit of fast food. Besides lowering his playing weight, Scott wanted to lose some pounds for his own pride and health.

"I was eating bad in Florida. I eat a lot better (here)," he said. "I don't eat beef anymore; I eat everything but beef. There's nothing wrong with beef, I just try not to eat burgers; that's where you get most of the calories, with bacon, cheese, fried egg, bread, fries. Now I eat spinach salads and stuff like that. I like spinach. It's not that bad."

Lighter in weight, Scott can become better at the pass rush and his moves.

"He's been serious about losing weight and being more athletic," Faoliu said. "He's gotten faster and way more athletic."

Still, Scott has earned his reputation for being a stout defensive tackle. It's important for he and Faoliu and others to be immovable objects in the middle of Oregon's D-line.

And, it's imperative for the unit to remain healthy. Many a team struggles when injuries mount up front.

"We never know who's going to go down," Faoliu said. "That's why everybody needs to know all the positions."

Well, except for Scott, who is settled in the middle.

"You never know in football — it's a high-collision sport," Scott said. "You never know when somebody's going to go down."

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