Oregon Ducks safety Bryan Addison becoming more than situational defender

Bryan Addison has been a situational pass defender for Oregon three seasons and now the safety is playing the best of his career.

Used primarily as a substitute in Oregon’s dime package in 2020 and 2021, Addison is playing more on first and second down this season and has a career-high 16 tackles with one for loss, an interception, pass breakup and forced fumble. The fifth-year junior had two tackles with an interception and pass breakup in last week’s win over UCLA, where he signed at one point.

“It felt a little bit of revenge for me, throwing it back to 2018 and everything I went through back in the day,” Addison said. “It felt good to be back out there on the field and playing hard against those guys. It was one of those types of things I wanted to go out there and show what Chip Kelly missed out on in a sense.”

All of Addison’s plays against the Bruins came on third and fourth down. He broke up a would-be touchdown pass in the end zone on third and 18, made a great open-field tackle of Zach Charbonnet – though UCLA converted on fourth down, and intercepted Dorian Thompson-Robinson on fourth and 6.

“He’s got range,” Oregon coach Dan Lanning said. “As we we went back and evaluated some of the things, this guy can cover sideline to sideline. Obviously having that receiving background allowed him to come down with a ball there at the end of the game. But he’s getting his hands on a lot of balls and he gets guys down when it comes to tackling. And that’s showing up.”

The 6-foot-5 Addison is still most effective as a deep cover safety but he’s refined his skills to play every down.

He could be particularly important for the No. 8 Ducks (6-1, 4-0 Pac-12) against Cal, which has several tall receivers and a quarterback who can drive the ball downfield.

“He’s got phenomenal talent,” safety Bennett Williams said. “Early in the season and fall camp we were on him like, ‘Dude you can be really special, just certain stuff you got to lock into it and treat everything like you’re a professional.’ I think he’s really embraced that recently and the play speaks for itself. He’s such a rangy safety, covers so much of the field. That takes away a lot for a quarterback.

“The deep balls, we haven’t seen it all season, but him back there definitely prevents that. He’s a playmaker, he comes downhill. When he’s in that mode and the right mindset he is a pretty unstoppable force so we’re going to keep getting on him. …

“Really his tackling is what has improved the most. Coming downhill to make the tackle rather than waiting or backing up. As a tall guy, 6-5, it’s not easy to go down and make those tackles so that’s something we’ve been on him a ton about but he’s definitely stepping up to the plate and can be a huge contributor for us the rest of the season.”

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