By Rob Moseley
Venue: Moshofsky Center
Format: Full Pads
If you’re going to have a humbling educational experience, it’s nice to get it out of the way in a 55-16 victory. Such were the circumstances for Oregon’s kickers, who got the experience of dealing with a cold, wet ball during last week’s win over California.
During a field-goal drill today, both Alejandro Maldonado and Matt Wogan were perfect on the handful of attempts I watched, from between 35 and 45 yards out. That must have been encouraging after their experience Saturday against the Golden Bears.
“The first PAT I kicked, it felt like I kicked a rock,” Maldonado said. “I came off the field like, ‘What did I just kick?’
“I like that it was early in the season. Because it’s only going to get colder from now on.”
Ironically, the Ducks will play at Colorado on Saturday, but the forecast is for warmer afternoon temperatures than the monsoon-like conditions of the Cal game.
Oregon wasn’t immune to those conditions – the Ducks muffed a PAT hold, had three kickoffs go out of bounds and had one punt travel just 23 yards. They also didn’t attempt a field goal, perhaps in a nod to the conditions. But Maldonado averaged 46 yards on his other five punts, downing four inside the 20-yard line and two inside the 5, and he paired with Wogan to make all seven PAT attempts.
“I thought they did a good job, I really did,” Mark Helfrich said. “We had the one not-great punt, but I don’t think that had anything to do with weather. The kicks out of bounds, same thing. Overall, everybody from the snappers and holders, did a good job of just playing.”
The conditions seemed to affect Maldonado and Wogan mentally as much as anything. Maldonado switched from a three-step approach to a two-step approach on punts, since the heavy ball made generating more power difficult – though he didn’t realize it until a teammate pointed it out on the sideline. And Wogan, who had two kickoffs go out of bounds due to nerves in Oregon’s opener, had the problem crop up against against Cal.
“I don’t think (the weather) was a really big issue until I made it one,” Wogan said. “That’s not what you want to do, obviously.
“It shouldn’t get in your head, because it’s really not that different. It’s just a lack of focus. That was immature on my part, and I paid the consequences. That’s why we come out to practice and work on getting better each week.”
Hence, while the offense and defense were inside all day today, the kickers spent some time out on the grass fields. They were still wet with morning dew, giving Wogan, Maldonado and the other specialists another chance to deal with a wet ball. Next time the conditions are nasty in a game, they intend to be ready.
Highlights: A two-hour practice saved the best for last. The day ended with a clutch drill, the offense needing a touchdown with little time left on the clock. It was fourth down when Marcus Mariota rolled to his left, spotted Johnny Mundt in the end zone, jumped to square his shoulders and completed the touchdown pass. That quarterback can play just a little bit.
Ironically, that play capped a day that also featured a rare interception by Mariota, who hasn’t thrown one in a game in 175 attempts. He was trying to hit a receiver down the field when safety Issac Dixon stepped in front and made the pick. … That early period also featured a sneaky little break-up by Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, who was running with a receiver when a pass was delivered into the receiver’s midsection. Rather than some aggressive break-up, Ekpre-Olomu just slipped his hand in and knocked it down, as if he were swatting at a fly. … Bralon Addison showed great hand-eye coordination on a deep ball that was over his head. He reached up with one hand, knocking the ball out of the air, juggled it for a second and then hauled it in for a touchdown.
Other observations: One of the final periods of the day was 11-on-11 against the scouts, and the offense running third-down plays. The awareness by the receivers was just remarkable. They knew where the first-down marker was every time, and made sure they got at least there on their routes. … Along those lines, but more of a schematic deal, was how often in seven-on receivers either found open space in the secondary, or at worst are one-on-one with defenders. … Receiver Darren Carrington is working with the travel squad, for the second time in three weeks. … So far, Monday’s walk-on tryout has yielded one addition to the team, veteran of the program Bobby Dunn. As he is also an Oct. 16 birthday, along with myself, baseball star Bryce Harper and Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir, Bobby is my new favorite Duck.