By Rob Moseley
Venue: Outdoor practice fields
As noted above, the Ducks were in shells (helmets and shoulder pads) for the first time this preseason, the third overall day of camp. The pads were popping, to use a cliché – but while Mark Helfrich was happy about some extra noise he heard today, it didn’t have to do with that.
“It’s getting louder,” Helfrich told the Ducks after the workout, and he was referring to the communication he was hearing between players prior to each rep. Linemen calling out blocking adjustments, defensive backs switching the coverage, and on and on.
“Volume is confidence,” Helfrich said. The increased chatter is a sign players are becoming more familiar with their reads, and more confident in those reads to the point they’re communicating them to teammates. It tends to be strongest among the veterans, but newcomers are working in with the two-deep at certain spots, so some of those guys are showing progress as well.
Coaches have talked the last couple of days to media about the crash course newcomers endure. They’re expected to take as many reps as anyone else, and have at least a general sense of what they’re doing.
And if at times they find themselves a little lost? “When in doubt, go fast,” Helfrich said. “And we’ll fix it later.”
Highlights: The day ended with a third-down drill that featured a number of nice plays by each side of the ball. Among the offense’s conversions were a Marcus Mariota pass to Byron Marshall, a couple Mariota runs, a Morgan Mahalak pass to Charles Nelson and a Mahalak run. Kani Benoit spun out of a potential tackle at the line and got to the second level, and Dwayne Stanford made the play of the day, a leaping, one-handed catch near the goal line.
But the defense made a bunch of stops, too. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu broke up a pass, as did Glen Ihenacho. Danny Mattingly stopped Royce Freeman just short of the first down, and Arrion Springs gave Austin Daich the same treatment.
Other observations: The newcomer who jumped out the most to me today was left tackle Tyrell Crosby. He pancaked one of his fellow freshmen in a team period, and more than held his own in a couple reps during one-on-one pass rush drills. … Henry Mondeaux also flashed some skills during the pass rush drills. Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner looked essentially unblockable one-on-one, while Hroniss Grasu and Alex Balducci engaged in a couple of spirited battles. …
With pads on, defenders were able to “thud” (but not tackle) ballcarriers more emphatically than the past two days. Probably as a result of that, there weren’t as many long, breakaway runs this afternoon. … One exception was Mariota, who broke into the open field on a couple options plays during one team period. In both cases, his nemesis from the spring, Erick Dargan, was the only thing standing between Mariota and the end zone. At full speed, in a full-contact situation, who wins that battle? … One poor running back was the ballcarrier on a tackle for loss that saw him end up under a pile made up of Buckner, Armstead and Tony Washington. That’s 832 pounds. …
Reggie Daniels, Eddie Heard and Issac Dixon had interceptions at various points in the afternoon. … I couldn’t tell what prompted it, but after one nice run by Freeman, graduate assistant Joe Bernardi ran out and gave a leaping high five to offensive lineman Tanner Davies.