Entering third year, Mase Funa is ready to take the next step

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Entering his third season in an Oregon Ducks uniform, strongside linebacker Mase Funa looks like a player ready to take yet another leap forward under first year defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter.

That’s no easy task, as the former four-star recruit was a freshman all-american second teamer back in 2019, recording 8.5 tackles for loss and four sacks. He was excellent in the shortened 2020 season as well, and is now poised to star alongside Noah Sewell and Justin Flowe in what could be among the best groups of linebackers in college football.

“Mase came in really good shape,” coach Mario Cristobal commented after Oregon’s scrimmage on Saturday. “You know, he’s always been a great striker, and it’s showing up really well [when] he sets edges. Like very few people do, you can get hands-on tight ends and can take on double teams of tackles, tight ends, and tight ends and wings, set edges, turn around back.”

Funa’s big role in this defense will be forcing opposing playmakers to stay inside by setting the outside edge, which will allow Oregon’s defensive linemen, as well as Sewell and Flowe, to make plays at the line of scrimmage.

If Funa is able to consistently set the edge it will be a successful campaign, but he’s also demonstrated plenty of skill as a pass rusher – particularly during camp this year – which could be a sign he’ll be back to being a dominant edge rusher after not recording any sacks in 2020.

“He’s also slippery in the pass game as well,” Cristobal continued. “[He’s] got a great power rush [which] was really developed to speed explosiveness. He’s had a great camp so far. So as always just a great human being has done a great job with our principles and values in our culture.”

DeRuyter’s defensive scheme prioritizes excellent play from the linebackers, and this year’s group at Oregon should mesh extremely well with what he wants to get done – and that’s very, very bad news for the rest of the Pac-12.

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Ducks Depth Chart Preview: Noah Sewell, Justin Flowe lead tenacious group of linebackers