by Rob Moseley
Editor, GoDucks.com

Venue: Outdoor practice fields
Format: Full pads

Mark Helfrich brought a little Southern flavor to practice today, as far as the soundtrack goes. Not only did "Rocky Top" play over the PA five or six times — and that's just while I was there, before leaving about 25 minutes early to visit with the Daisy Ducks — other country tunes were scattered in there as well.

It wasn't as bad as in 2010, when as I recall an entire practice featured nothing but "Rocky Top" on repeat, prior to the Ducks' game at Tennessee that season. And there have been practices prior to USC games that featured one of their fight songs on constant repeat. "Rocky Top" played so many times three years ago that I knew the words by the end of that Tuesday's practice, and that wasn't the case today.

For the record, the Tennessee band will not be on hand Saturday in Autzen Stadium. So there are only a few more versions of "Rocky Top" to endure as the Ducks wrap up practices over the next couple days.

In case you're interested, on a day to day basis the practice soundtrack features a lot of the new Jay-Z album; "Wake Me Up" by Avicii; "Summertime Sadness" by Lana Del Rey; that "Light Em Up" song by Fall Out Boy that played incessantly during the NHL playoffs (other people watched those, right?); "I Need Your Love" by Calvin Harris; "HeadBand" by B.o.B.; and a few others. (For the most part they're edited versions, so as not to offend neighbors and passers by.)

At this point I've heard them all so much, I'm ready for a change. But the one that most consistently irks me is some mash-up using Jay-Z lyrics and "War Pigs" by Black Sabbath. I get jazzed to finally hear a good metal tune, and it's not to be. Alas.

Highlights: After the kickoff team did some full-speed reps yesterday, the kickoff return team was in action this morning, though without live tackling. De'Anthony Thomas returned the very first rep for a "touchdown," and it looked to me like the "thud" tempo had nothing to do with that; it was a legitimate return. Now, of course, the question is whether any opponent will kick it to him in a game this season. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu also had what looked to me like a legitimate breakaway "touchdown" return. Otherwise the scouts did a good job in coverage, including one return that was completely bottled up by scouts Bronson Yim and Blake Stanton.

Other observations: The hesitant Byron Marshall from last week's Virginia game was nowhere to be seen today. One example: He blew through the scout-team line on a run up the middle at one point, with zero hesitation. … That said, Thomas Tyner got a lot of reps today too. I would imagine the competition for reps between those two will be good motivators for both guys. … A couple other plays that caught my eye: Boseko Lokombo drifting into coverage on a running back and breaking up a pass, T.J. Daniel stopping DAT in the backfield to win a rep for the scouts, and Erick Dargan doing a good job to shed a receiver's block and made a tackle on a screen pass.

Along with my early departure from practice, I spent a lot of time focusing on Derrick Malone today, for a feature I'm writing, which is why this report probably feels a little thin (apologies). I got enough insight into his preparation for the Tennessee game that I probably won't publish my feature until Sunday, after the game. He let me sit on some film review Monday afternoon, and today I watched to see how he put to use what he gathered from that session. It was cool to see the scout team doing what Malone watched on film, and to watch him react now that he had a better sense of some of their tendencies.