By Rob Moseley
Venue: Autzen Stadium
Format: Fast Friday
The developmental squad scrimmage that preceded today’s walk-through was “our most physical practice, by far,” for that group this season, UO coach Mark Helfrich said. No single play better embodied that than one on which linebacker Brett Bafaro anticipated the snap count and smashed into an offensive lineman, forcing a running back to bounce outside.
The 10-minute weekly scrimmage for scout-team members is a chance to cut loose and have some fun after toiling all week in practices. But Bafaro’s high-contact moment was a reminder that it’s serious business, too.
“It’s huge,” said Bafaro, a redshirt freshman whose sole appearance this season came against Cal. “We don’t get to get into the game most of the time, and if we do it’s at the end. So this is like our fun time. We love to get out there and compete, and it makes all of us better.”
As the Ducks prepared this week to face Utah on Saturday (1 p.m., Fox Sports 1), Bafaro and the other linebackers – Isaac Ava, Danny Mattingly, Ryan McCandless, Grant Thompson – were particularly helpful with the scout team.
“We asked them to do a lot – and think a lot – because of the different looks Utah will give us,” said GA Joe Bernardi, who coordinates the defensive scouts. “They were running and hitting and really working their tails off.”
For Bafaro, a former first-team all-state linebacker for Hillsboro, standing out both as a scout and this morning is an encouraging sign. By his own admission he has “a long way to go in his development” after taking more time than expected to adjust to the college level – on and off the field – so the Friday scrimmages are a huge chance to prove himself.
At inside linebacker, the Ducks have relied on veterans Rodney Hardrick, Derrick Malone and Rahim Cassell plus sophomore JC transfer Joe Walker primarily this season. But true freshman Tyrell Robinson also has played, and Mattingly has been a consistent standout in practices.
So Bafaro has been lost in the shuffle a bit. That’s something he still has time to change, deep into his second fall on campus.
“Now Eugene’s becoming home,” Bafaro said. “Building relationships with the other players and coaches has been huge, especially (position coach Don Pellum); he’s guiding me through this pretty well.”
Scout-team scrimmage highlights: The first play of the morning was a doozy, as Damion Hobbs lofted a pass into the end zone that Darren Carrington went up and snagged despite blanket coverage. … Quarterback Taylor Alie – who also had a strong week, according to GA Mike Keldorf – had to leave the pocket and look for yards after T.J. Daniel penetrated the line. Though he didn’t get much of a chance to show his skills there, Alie is “extremely coachable and pays attention to the details,” Keldorf said. “You only have to tell him once and he tries to the best of his ability to make it happen.”…
Hobbs looked like he was about to have another touchdown, to Austin Daich, but Tyree Robinson swooped in for an interception. Moments later, Robinson came up and got to a running back behind the line of scrimmage. … Mattingly and Stetzon Bair also disrupted plays in the backfield.