by Andy McNamara
Assistant AD, Athletic Communications
Nicholls preparations begin in earnest as Ducks get a jump start on game week.
Venue: Grass practice fields
Situations: Individual position drills, field goal/PAT blocking, safe punt returns and a heavy dose of scout team periods to end practice.
First off, while it should be obvious by the lack of journalistic flair and flow, this is @McNamaraUO filling in for @DuckFootball today as Rob is on a highway or in the woods somewhere, running to Seaside on a Hood to Coast team. He’ll be back at his keyboard Monday. On to the report…
The first wrinkle of the Mark Helfrich era, in terms of game week preparation, saw the Ducks practicing outside as opposed to inside the Moshofsky center, which is unique for a session early in the week. The new turf fields and additional space at the outdoor complex certainly play into that and should continue to benefit preparations while the weather cooperates.
Helfrich was pleased with today’s effort, which saw several players don scout team jerseys for the first time as the ones and twos become clearer. The first-year head coach gave a preview of the depth chart to local reporters after practice, including Alejandro Maldonado being listed as the primary punter. GoDucks.com will release the entire Week 1 depth chart on Monday.
Helfrich also talked about which players the staff would prefer to redshirt, while indicating that running back Thomas Tyner, tight end Johnny Mundt, drop end Torrodney Prevot and linebacker Tyrell Robinson are among true freshmen he expects to contribute right away.
Rob will have a detailed look at No. 3 Oregon’s 2013 depth upon his return Monday.
Highlights: Dior Mathis carried his strong fall camp into the first game-week practice, intercepting Jeff Lockie on one series of 7-on-7 and breaking up a Jake Rodrigues pass to Devon Allen on the next. Mathis is one of several Ducks with starting talent who happens to play at a deep position.
Rodrigues flashed his cannon of a right arm during 3-on-2 drills, getting into a great rhythm and firing one laser after the next. I fully expect Lockie and Rodrigues to share the No. 2 QB role heading into the season opener as both have been solid throughout August.
Not to be outdone in the ball-throwing department, Marcus Mariota had another eye-popping day distributing the football. Mariota made a beautiful sideline throw on the run, finding Bralon Addison during 11-on-11 against the scouts. Addison completed the play with a nice leaping catch. A few snaps later, the sophomore QB spotted Josh Huff wide open and threw a flat-footed, high-arcing strike to beat a pass rush.
Other observations: Oshay Dunmore has fully moved from defensive back to outside linebacker, which freed up Tyson Coleman to put in quality time and reps with the inside ‘backers … Maldonado and Matt Wogan traded several field goals from varying distances and were both perfect inside of 43 yards. Both kickers made 2 of 3 from 43 … Walk-on Ian Wheeler may be the best practice punter the Ducks have had in my 8-year tenure. He delivers perfect ball after perfect ball during return and coverage periods with an effortless stroke. It may not sound important, but the value of not wasting plays with errant kicks during those drills is huge.
Up next: The Ducks will have their final off day before the season opener before resuming practice Monday morning..