SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Oregon head coach Chip Kelly says Kansas State’s All-American Arthur Brown might be the best linebacker his team will face all season.
That seems to be a common belief among the Ducks players, who will see the Wildcats in the Fiesta Bowl on Thursday at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.
“Never seen someone like this guy,” Oregon offensive lineman Hroniss Grasu said of Brown, who was named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year by the coaches.
But that compliment, coming from an offensive juggernaut like No. 4 Oregon, is significant. The Ducks have the fourth-ranked offense in the country and are No. 2 in scoring offense, averaging 51 points a game this season.
Brown said he’s taking Kelly’s comments about him being the best linebacker his team has seen, as an honor.
“I have a lot of great support as well,” he said.
Yes, the fifth-ranked Wildcats (11-1) feature a host of talented players on the defensive side of the ball. But Brown is clearly the face of the unit.
“What they do, they do very well,” Grasu said. “They just get off the ball, especially No. 4, Arthur Brown — best player I’ve seen all year.”
Kelly, however, said it’s not just Brown he’s impressed with, as the senior seems to make everyone around him better.
“How well they tackle in space,” the Oregon head coach said. “They get off blocks and they tackle extremely well in space, they don’t miss many tackles. And again, they are extremely fundamentally sound. You’re really, really impressed when you watch how well they tackle in space.”
Brown is big part of that too. The Wichita native leads the Wildcats with 91 tackles this season and is by far one of the fastest players at his position in the country. He said it his quickness that allows him to make the plays perhaps others can’t make. His ability to outrun almost anyone between the lines gives him an edge competitors fear.
“I would say sideline to sideline, having an (indiscernible) pursuit to the ball,” Brown said about his greatest strength on the field. “I need to play my own assignments soundly.”
On Thursday, Brown and the Wildcats will be tested against a Ducks (11-1) team that scores points in bunches, much like the Big 12 opponents K-State saw all season in teams like Oklahoma State, Baylor, Texas Tech and Oklahoma.
Brown is confident and focused heading into his final game as a Wildcat — now just days away from the Fiesta Bowl, which kicks off Thursday at 7:30 p.m. (CST) on ESPN.
“It’s all about preparation throughout the week,” Brown said. “I’m confident in what our coaches have planned for us — that we’ll be ready to play this game at a high level.”