By Rob Moseley
Venue: Outdoor practice fields
Format: Full pads
During the fall, there are days the entire UO football team makes a quick pass through the ice baths under the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex following practice.
That hasn’t been the case this spring, with no practices on back-to-back days. On Friday, there were a couple exceptions: receiver Devon Allen and cornerback Dior Mathis, who are entered in the Oregon track and field program’s weekend meet at Hayward Field.
Mathis, who is trying to hold off challengers for a spot with the No. 1 defense this spring, is entered in the 100 meters Saturday in the Oregon Relays. Allen, a redshirt freshman wideout, has a heavier load: the 400 hurdles Friday evening, and the 100 and 110 hurdles Saturday.
Allen isn’t a real fan of ice baths, but given the juggling act he’s performing between football and track this spring, he was willing to oblige strength and conditioning coach Jim Radcliffe’s request.
“We’re working on the balance,” Allen said. “Not so much today; I pretty much did everything today. But I know my body and how I need to go with everything.”
For Allen, doing everything at football practice means running routes at Oregon’s breakneck practice speed, which may be more taxing on the receivers than any other position. He’s also returning kickoffs and punts this month; when kickoff drills began Friday, he was with the first group alongside veteran Keanon Lowe.
Allen might have made the play of the day Friday. Late in practice during team drills, a pass was tipped at the line, into the air around the second level of the defense. Allen was running across the field, found his way to the ball, hauled it in and continued on a diagonal path to the end zone, aided by a block from Chance Allen.
“The ball goes in the air, there’s nobody around, may as well grab it and score,” Devon Allen said. “That’s how the game works sometimes.”
Allen said the six-hour break between football and track – he’s scheduled to run at 5:47 p.m. – wasn’t particularly taxing, even given the fact he has a quiz to take in between. He planned to get some food, take his test, then get off his feet before the track meet.
Allen is down about 20 pounds from last fall, to 185, resulting in better speed both in football and track. He’s hoping to help the Ducks score in the hurdles, sprints and relays both at the Pac-12 meet and NCAA Regionals, and with time to hone his technique perhaps could even be a factor in the 110 hurdles at nationals.
For now, the goal is for Allen to post low enough times to ensure qualification for regionals, and then dial back on his track schedule to rest up for the postseason. Unfortunately, that means trying to post fast times smack in the middle of spring drills, but Allen has been able to make that balancing act work so far. He has yet to practice in both sports on the same day, but for some technical work on relay exchanges last Friday.
That’s allowing Allen to stay as fresh as possible, and work on expanding his role with the football team.
“As the weeks go, I’m definitely feeling more that I can play every position,” Allen said. “I know what I’m doing. I’m not having to think so much, and after that you can just play fast and go have fun.”
Highlights: Mark Helfrich continues to harp on the offense’s tempo, though both units put points on the board to start the day. A nice pass breakup in the end zone by Mathis forced the No. 1 offense to settle for a Matt Wogan field goal, and Jake Rodrigues ran for a touchdown with the twos after a couple Thomas Tyner runs got the drive going. … Overall, I was most impressed with the defensive line today. Arik Armstead flushed Marcus Mariota from the pocket on that first drive of the day resulting in Wogan’s field goal, and Armstead later knocked down a pass at the line. …
Also up front defensively, Tui Talia had a sack during team drills and looked very quick in pass-rush. … Joe Walker jumped out a few times as well with his ability to stop the run. … Rodrigues connected with Johnny Mundt for a touchdown in the last period of the day, the scoring play having been set up by an acrobatic Chris Tewhill catch.
Other observations: Reggie Daniels spent another day with the No. 1 defense alongside Erick Dargan, who had a leaping interception of Rodrigues at one point. … Damion Hobbs got a chance to operate the No. 1 offense for a series, and had a nice completion to Chance Allen after rolling out. … For the second time this spring, Helfrich lauded Torrodney Prevot in the post-practice huddle for leadership he’d shown on the sideline over the course of practice.