Don Pellum

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Following Alamo Bowl meltdown, Mark Helfrich makes staff changes at Oregon

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When a team gives up a 31-0 lead at halftime to lose, something has to change. Oregon blew a 31-0 lead in the Alamo Bowl to TCU last week and has relegated defensive coordinator Don Pellum to the role of linebackers coach. He will fill the role that has been left vacated by Erik Chinander, who is now on the move to UCF to take on the role of defensive coordinator. Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich announced the changes Monday afternoon.

“I want to thank Coach Chinander for his hard work these past two seasons,” Helfrich said in a released statement. “This is a natural progression for him as he’s an outstanding young coach.”

Despite demoting Pellum on the staff, Helfrich complimented his new linebackers coach.

“Don is a great man who has helped shape the culture and growth of Oregon Football in several different capacities for nearly 30 years,” Helfrich said. “He’s committed, as we all are, to being part of the solution to improve the end results on the field.”

As for Oregon’s defensive coordinator position, a national search is now underway to fill the hole. Oregon’s defense ranked 117th in the nation in total defense, notably one spot below in-state rival Oregon State and one spot ahead of Idaho. The Ducks allowed 485.3 yards per game in 2015. Oregon also ranked 116th in scoring defense, allowing 37.5 points per game.

Oregon stays in-house to fill defensive coordinator position

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Oregon’s hole at defensive coordinator has been plugged. Don Pellum will be promoted to the job after serving as linebackers coach for the Ducks. According to The Oregonian, the hire has not become official and may not until later in the weekend or Monday, but it is the move that will be made by the university.

Pellum succeeds Nick Aliotti, who resigned at the conclusion of the 2013 season. He will take over a defense that ranked third in the Pac 12 in total defense and second in scoring defense in 2013. Oregon may be known for their offense, but their defense is capable of using speed to their advantage as much as any team they will run in to.

Considering how long Pellum, a former starting linebacker for the Ducks, has been a part of the coaching staff at Oregon, this is a long overdue promotion.

Pellum’s spot as linebackers coach will be filled by Erik Chinander, who will join the program after one year with the Philadelphia Eagles and former Oregon head coach Chip Kelly. Chinander joined Kelly in Philadelphia after serving as a defensive assistant at Oregon for Kelly.

Oregon considered bringing in new coaches from outside the program, but head coach Mark Helfrich opted to stay close to home. The unity of the coaching staff can be an asset, especially when it comes to recruiting. Given Pellum’s experience leading the recruiting charge for Oregon, that is a good decision.

Photo: Oregon Athletics