by Rob Moseley
Venue: Moshofsky Center
This morning the Ducks began formal preparations for their Thursday night game at Stanford, holding a "Monday" practice inside the Mo Center.
And it was apparently quite the workout. UO coach Mark Helfrich told the team afterward it was "excellent — the best of the season in every phase" for a Monday.
"Your tempo, your energy, your pace and certainly your execution are all factors in that," Helfrich told media afterward.
He joked with the team that he called donor Phil Knight about a way to reward the Ducks for that effort, and Knight said he'd manufactured an extra hour of sleep tonight. That of course is due to the end of Daylight Saving Time.
"A couple phone calls, you can make a lot happen," Helfrich joked to his players.
As the Stanford game draws closer, the Ducks are being asked quite a bit about avenging last year's loss; quarterback Marcus Mariota today acknowledged having a chip on his shoulder about that defeat, the only one of his UO career and the last game in which he threw an interception.
Helfrich is OK with that, as long as it's channeled constructively.
"If our guys use last year as a motivational factor to practice harder today, we'll take it," he said.
"Any external motivation that was used to prepare, great," Helfrich continued, emphasizing the word "prepare."
By a quirk of the schedule, UO coaches have been watching film on Stanford for the past few weeks — both Washington and UCLA played the Cardinal the week before facing the Ducks.
That's not as valuable as one might think — Nick Aliotti, for instance, was watching Stanford's defense in those cases, while scouting the UW and UCLA offenses. He's only now seeing tape on the Cardinal offense.
"Special teams is the place where that crossover is most (helpful)," Helfrich said.
Highlights: The offense scored in both clutch periods to end the day, with Daryle Hawkins catching a ball in traffic with the ones and Chance Allen outleaping a defensive back in the end zone with the twos. The offense was assessed a celebration penalty after Allen's touchdown, moving the PAT back, but Alejandro Maldonado nailed the "game-winning" kick. … Mariota may have that long streak without an interception in games, but he was picked off by his good friend Isaac Ava in seven-on today. It was no fluke; Ava nearly picked off Mariota just a couple of snaps earlier. That said, Mariota followed up the pick with a touchdown pass. … Ifo Ekpre-Olomu had at least two interceptions on the day.
As I try to do once a week or so, I walked around to the far side of the field during seven-on to watch pass-rush drills. Ricky Havili-Heimuli was a star of the show, dominating all three reps I saw him take. Torrodney Prevot showed off his athleticism by winning a couple reps, though on a third he was contained by Everett Benyard. Tyler Johnstone also scored a couple wins for the offensive linemen.
Other observations: The Ducks had a guest on hand today, 16-year-old Casey Evans of Roseburg, who is six weeks out from a heart transplant. Several players mingled with him after practice. … Oshay Dunmore had three different coaches go out of their way to laud his effort on a kickoff coverage rep. Not something you see every day, by any stretch. … Both Cameron Hunt and Jake Pisarcik are able to take reps at both guard and tackle at this point. Usually I wouldn't expect to see a freshman learn a second position until spring ball, or his second fall on campus. Very impressive to have two who are so advanced.