Oregon’s Drayton Carlberg uses big plays to stick in the lineup

Originally Posted on Emerald Media via UWIRE

In the fourth quarter of Oregon’s game against then-ranked No. 7 Stanford, the Cardinal were looking to score, trailing 24-21. The Ducks defense held strong, putting Stanford in a fourth-and-one situation. With the offense remaining on the field, there was no secret what the Cardinal would do. They were going to run the ball and the Ducks needed a stop to silence the Cardinal’s momentum.

On the play, Stanford running back Cameron Scarlett took the ball and was immediately tackled by Oregon defensive end Drayton Carlberg.

“Carlberg made a great play there,” defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt said. “That was pretty neat to see.”

Arriving at Oregon as the No. 2 overall high school player from Minnesota, the redshirt junior entered the year with just 15 career tackles. Beginning this season as a reserve, Carlberg has used hard work and clutch plays to make an impact on the field.

In 2018, Carlberg’s playing time has increased. He’s already tied his season-high in tackles with nine. He is tied with defensive end Jalen Jelks for second on the team with 2.5 sacks, which also ties him for fourth in tackles for loss with nose tackle Jordon Scott.

When starting defensive end Austin Faoliu left the Stanford game with an injury, Carlberg made the most of his opportunity by getting that fourth down stop.

“It’s just pride in yourself and working on your technique every week and trying to improve yourself when your opportunity comes,” Carlberg said. “Just make the best of it. So that’s what I’ve been doing. Just working every day.”

With Oregon leading 21-10 in the second quarter, Cal quarterback Brandon McIlwain had two straight runs for 11 yards to put the Golden Bears on the Oregon 28-yard line.

A big play was needed and Carlberg did it once again. He swung past Cal left guard Kamryn Bennett to sack McIlwain. The quarterback fumbled, and the ball was scooped up by linebacker La’Mar Winston Jr., who had a 20-yard head start in a 61-yard race to the end zone with Cal wide receiver Kanawai Noa.

“I hit the guy and I was on the ground and I look up and see La’Mar just take off,” Carlberg said. “I was like, ‘Thank the lord, man.’ They were moving the ball a little bit so I didn’t even know the ball came out. I was just trying to get to the quarterback. I got up and just threw my hands up when I saw La’Mar. I knew no one was going to catch him because it’s La’Mar Winston. He’s a freak athlete.”

The score was the first of Winston’s career, and he knew it wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for Carlberg.

“I didn’t expect, in my wildest imagination, something like that,” Winston said after the 42-24 victory over Cal. “I’m gonna have to take Drayton to dinner all next week. … The big dogs, they always eat together. I’ma see where he wants to go. It’s on me.”

Follow Maverick Pallack on Twitter @mavpallack

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