by Rob Moseley
Oregon began double days Saturday morning, their sixth practice of the first week of preseason camp.
Venue: Outdoor practice fields
Format: Shells (helmets and shoulder pads), including the spring game helmets
Situations: A 15-minute 11-on-11 session to end the day, preceded by some seven-on-seven during which the linemen did pass-rush drills, and special teams work including kickoff coverage, kickoff return and PAT block.
Highlights: The lengthy 11-on-11 to end the morning included a few eye-opening moments. Daryle Hawkins had a long "touchdown" grab for the second time in the last 20 hours, a finger-tips catch of a Jeff Lockie ball. Oregon's other contender for the No. 2 quarterback job, Jake Rodrigues, also had a long "touchdown" toss, rolling out and finding B.J. Kelley behind the secondary. The touchdown made up for an interception Rodrigues threw to Issac Dixon a little earlier. Lockie tucked the ball on a nice rushing gain during the same drill.
The Amoako brothers each made my notebook as well. Stephen Amoako first stepped up from his cornerback spot to blow up a pitch play, and later hauled in an interception on a tipped ball. Not to be outdone, Eric Amoako also came from the corner to make a tackle in the backfield, a mirror image of his twin brother's play moments before.
And I'd be remiss if I didn't include big nose tackle Wade Keliikipi getting legitimate air to jump and bat down a Marcus Mariota pass at the line.
Most entertaining period: The nature of watching a practice is that the passing game stands out the most; the ball in the air always catches your eye, and it's easiest to assess the outcome of a rep. Complete, or incomplete. Nice throw, or off-target. Caught, or dropped. Covered well, or blown. Blocking schemes and running back decisions and play diagnosis by defenders is much, much tougher.
But I try to make a point of turning away from seven-on-seven when the linemen are doing pass-rush drills. It's fun to see the big boys going one-on-one. Today the guy who impressed me the most was DeForest Buckner. He beat blockers once each on a spin move and a speed rush, remarkable for a guy who goes some 285 pounds. Even though he's the backup to Taylor Hart, Buckner will surely play a ton, and might be a darkhorse candidate to lead this team in sacks, the way Hart did last year.
There were a couple of stalemates between hulking tackle Ricky Havili-Heimuli and interior linemen Hroniss Grasu and Hamani Stevens, and a win (to my untrained eye) for Jake Fisher against Hart in a battle of two established studs. I also thought freshman center Doug Brenner held up pretty well in two tough tests against sophomore Arik Armstead.
Other observations: This morning's workout, like much of the first week, was heavy on installing new concepts. You're seeing more in-practice teaching from the staff than you would later in the month, and certainly once the season starts, when it's all about max reps at max tempo. … Freshman tight end Johnny Mundt took reps with the kickoff coverage team today, after doing so during punt drills Friday. Special teams is typically a great way for a newcomer to earn early playing time. … Another true freshman, guard Jake Pisarcik, took reps with the second-team offensive line on a couple different series during 11-on-11. … Former Marshfield coach Kent Wigle attended practice and visited with his former starting quarterback Mark Helfrich afterward.
Up next: The Ducks are right back at it this afternoon.
BASKETBALL - M
BASKETBALL - W
GOLF - M
GOLF - W
TENNIS - M
TENNIS - W
TRACK & FIELD
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