GoDucks.com editor and football beat writer Rob Moseley returns from a final few days of summer vacation to take over practice reports as of today.
Venue: Outdoor practice fields
Format: Full pads, though with no live hitting, and it was a competition day
Situations: Among the late 11-on-11 periods was a third-down scenario, and the special teams drills included punts and kickoff coverage.
Highlights: On a competition day, they were many, though my impression was that it was a little sloppy overall. The passing game was slow to get going, and there were a couple instances of the offense or defense being docked points for mental errors, including on the day's final, decisive play. The score was tied 68-68 for the final snap, and Josh Huff took a pitch to the house, but a celebration penalty was called and the defense was awarded a 68-59 win.
That the score was close for the final play took a little rally from the offense in that third-down scenario. Marcus Mariota found his rhythm through the air, with several completions to Daryle Hawkins that included a long touchdown over the coverage of Troy Hill. "In that situation we wanted to come back and make it a game," Mariota said. "We eventually did. … It gets the juices flowing a little bit and it was a lot of fun."
The defense earlier built a lead thanks to some disruptive play by Boseko Lokombo, who stopped two run plays in the backfield, in one case forcing a fumble. Danny Mattingly added a tackle in the run game and a near-interception as the defense built a lead midway through the day.
Early on it was more back-and-forth. In the first few scored periods, Reggie Daniels made a nice break on a route but couldn't come up with the ball on a near interception of Jake Rodrigues, who was throwing under pressure. A few plays later, Mariota beat Taylor Hart to the edge and then used a ball fake to get by Tony Washington on a long run.
Most entertaining period: It was actually one of the first of the day, a physical, two-on-one drill in which a defender at the line of scrimmage tries to fight off a blocker and tackle a ballcarrier. Andre Yruretagoyena used his size advantage to pancake Rahim Cassell, and Ricky Havili-Heimuli won a heavyweight battle with Hamani Stevens before swallowing up the ballcarrier. Havili-Heimuli impressed me whenever I focused on him, really. "Ricky's really playing well, practicing well," UO coach Mark Helfrich said. "I think he finally just feels 100 percent."
Tight end Johnny Mundt also pancaked Mattingly. In other battles between young guys, I thought Doug Brenner and Alex Balducci fought to a stalemate, and Jake Pisarcik just got the better of Torrodney Prevot.
Other observations: Four punters — Alejandro Maldonado, Dylan Ausherman, Matt Wogan and walk-on Ian Wheeler — took reps from inside their own end zone, in which a quick get-off time is imperative. Maldonado and Ausherman looked most comfortable to my eye. … Offensive lineman Everett Benyard looks ready to blossom into a bigger role as a senior. … From what I can tell, there's still much to sort out among the inside linebackers. … Among the newcomers who stood out to me in special teams drills were Mattingly and Tyrell Robinson. But the play of the day has to go to starting left tackle and backup long snapper Tyler Johnstone, who made a tackle on a punt. … On Thursday night, the Ducks all received iPads, on which they'll be able to access playbooks, practice film and scouting reports. Helfrich said he does see merit in also having a hard copy of the playbook, for the sake of taking notes. … Running backs coach Gary Campbell was away attending to a personal matter.
Up next: The Ducks hold their first double day Saturday, practicing in the morning and again in the afternoon.