DeForest Buckner shuts down Joshua Garnett
Coming into this week’s Oregon-Stanford showdown, DeForest Buckner was the highest-graded interior defender in the nation going up against Joshua Garnett, the highest-graded guard in the nation.
Buckner emerges having only enhanced his credentials and extended his lead atop the interior defender rankings, while Garnett has slipped off the top spot in the guard list thanks to their matchup. He was the clear winner when the two went head-to-head early every time. Coming into this game, Garnett has surrendered just two sacks, two hits and three hurries for a total of seven pressures on the season. Buckner beat him for a sack and three hits alone, and demolished him on a bull rush for two of them.
Bull rushes don’t produce as much pressure as simply beating a player to the in or outside — because it’s a hell of a lot tougher moving a 300-pound blocker all the way to the quarterback than it is just beating him there yourself — but they can lay down a real marker of sheet physical superiority. That’s what this game felt like for Buckner who beat Garnett outside twice, but also just drove him back to the quarterback on a couple of occasions.
This is something Garnett simply hasn’t experienced much, especially this season. In fact, Buckner is the only player to generate any positive pass-rush against Garnett by bull rushing him this season, and he did it as if it was no big deal. This was Garnett’s first negatively-graded game of the season and only the fourth over the last two years.
Buckner was a player that I liked better than teammate and first-round pick Arik Armstead a year ago, and this represents his 11th-straight positively graded game — every game this season. He has now eclipsed the mark Henry Anderson posted a year ago as the best-graded interior defender in the nation, and has done so over just 11 games.
Buckner now has a sack in the past five consecutive games and has yet to be blanked as a pass-rusher this season. He has been absolutely dominant as a pass-rusher and is not much worse as a run defender, where he was actually far better against Stanford.
Buckner is a man amongst boys in almost all of the games he plays in, and as we saw this past Saturday, he’s just far too physically strong and talented for most college blockers to stand a chance.