By Andy McNamara
Venue: Outdoor practice fields
Format: Full pads
With Oregon’s preseason camp officially in the books, the Ducks enjoyed a rare weekday void of intense training on Friday as the staff reviewed the month’s progress and settled on primary offensive and defensive depth, as well as scout team members. Saturday, those decisions were on display as the Ducks’ conducted their first game week practice, going through what would be a typical Monday routine.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota has been stressing tempo to his troops all offseason and the offense looked as if it definitely received the message, as the ones and twos were sprinting back to the line of scrimmage between plays during their first periods against the scout defense this year.
The defense struggled to get a good look from the offensive scouts at the outset, but according to defensive end Arik Armstead, that was rectified by the end of practice.
Emphasizing the importance of scouts to the newcomers, head coach Mark Helfrich asked all players who have redshirted during their time at Oregon to stand, as he addressed the team at the conclusion of practice. The number represented half the roster.
“I encourage you to talk to these guys about the importance of it and what it takes to be the best scout team player you can be,” Helfrich said. “The importance your role has in the team’s overall success cannot be overstated. It’s crucial.”
Highlights: Juwaan Williams and Zac Schuller each got the best of one another during 4-on-3. Williams took advantage of a slip by Schuller to make an interception on the first rep, but when matched up again, Schuller got open, made the catch put on a shake-and-bake move that caused the safety to fall down. … Reggie Daniels continued his strong finish to the month with a nice breakup during 4-on-3. … Pharaoh Brown, also coming on strong as of late, made an excellent over the shoulder grab under tight coverage during the same drill.
Johnathan Loyd plucked a high pass from Taylor Alie with one hand during 7-on-7, his first of three consecutive receptions from the redshirt freshman QB. … Byron Marshall’s ability to catch the ball was again on display as he made a nifty sliding grab on a ball from Mariota.
The Ducks’ projected starting front three on defense was extremely active during the scout team period with DeForest Buckner and Alex Balducci each making multiple tackles for loss. … Another defensive lineman, true freshman Henry Mondeaux got in the backfield for a would-be-sack. … Troy Hill laid out to break up a pass as the scout quarterback opted against throwing toward Ifo Ekpre-Olomu’s side of the field.
Play of the day goes to Marshall, who busted his hump downfield while running with the third-string kickoff coverage squad to greet and “tackle” the scout returner. That kind of effort from a first-string, 1,000-yard tailback sets a great example for the younger guys. Other guys who stood out during kickoff coverage were freshmen Charles Nelson and Justin Hollins.
Other observations: With today’s practice being a “Monday” in terms of the Ducks’ normal game week routine, the team will have a bonus practice next week after tomorrow’s off day. … Helfrich received good news on Friday when he learned Johnny Ragin III was granted a waiver by the NCAA to play this season. The sophomore linebacker has been enrolled at Oregon since winter term after transferring from Cal.
Former head coach Rich Brooks took in practice and chatted with Helfrich after the workout. … The Ducks wore their “Sonic Boom” helmets to adjust fitting for their potential use later in the season.