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  For all the attention Troy Dye deservedly drew and received last season, an equally important factor on the second level of Oregon's defense was Isaac Slade-Matautia. Dye made the most tackles (84) for Oregon for a fourth straight year, but Slade-Matautia had 62 along with 11 pass breakups, which tied for the most in the country by a linebacker. Slade-Matautia had 20 tackles in seven games before a broken collarbone derailed his 2018 season. He took over for Kaulana Apelu, replaced his production and made the defensive calls on the field.

In 2020, Slade-Matautia's role and production will need to grow in Dye's absence. Having an experienced player like Sampson Niu filling the role at weak-side linebacker helps relieve some stress compared to a freshman stepping in, but this is Slade-Matautia's linebacking unit now and in 2021 and how he leads will impact how Oregon's loaded group of younger linebackers develop as well. As important as defensive coordinator Andy Avalos and inside linebackers coach Ken Wilson are to grooming the defense, how players interact amongst themselves will be more important amid this peculiar season. - The Oregonian

rSr/2023 ILB Isaac Slade-MatautiaSouthern Methodist
News Source: The Oregonian

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