by Rob Moseley
Venue: Outdoor practice fields
Format: Full pads
The Ducks were back outside today after two days of heat and humidity inside the Moshofsky Center. Mark Helfrich wanted to test his team early in the week with conditions along the lines of what they'll face in Virginia on Saturday, but he also wanted to give them time to rehydrate and recover prior to the game.
While today wasn't quite as crazy as Tuesday, there was another flurry of interceptions late in practice. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Derrick Malone and Terrance Mitchell all picked off passes during a late 11-on-11 period against scouts. Then, in a clutch scenario to end the day, with the offense needing to drive to a field goal, Tony Washington intercepted a pass to end the drill between the No. 1 offense and No. 1 defense.
Intercepting passes is of course a hallmark of Oregon's defense; the Ducks led the nation with 26 last season. So it was somewhat surprising that, in the opening game Saturday, Nicholls threw 50 passes and the Ducks didn't intercept any. That's not to say they were without chances; Dior Mathis, for instance, mishandled a potential pick late in the game.
Overall, the Ducks were plus-two for the day in the turnover department. They didn't fumble or throw an interception, while recovering two Nicholls fumble. Which pleased Helfrich — to a point.
"There were a bunch of chances to catch interceptions, which we need to convert, and some chances when they had some sloppy ball security that we need to take advantage of," Helfrich said. "And conversely, a few times on offense we got lucky; just (need to) keep coaching up the young guys on ball security, which is an ongoing thing to the end of time."
Helfrich also mentioned wanting to see touchdowns after the Ducks make takeaways, which makes the momentum change even more of a crusher. Oregon settled for a field goal after a fumble recovery in the first quarter, but did reached the end zone on Jeff Lockie's rushing touchdown after a fumble in the fourth.
Today's practice included at least one fumble recovery, by Avery Patterson on a mishandled pitch by the scout-team offense. Turnovers by the travel team offense were essentially nonexistent; I didn't see any today, at least, until Washington's late interception.
Highlights: The No. 2 defense also won its chance during the clutch drill, with the offense running out of time before getting into field-goal range. … Marcus Mariota was locked in during a red-zone drill, in which four of his first five passes went for touchdowns, to De'Anthony Thomas, Bralon Addison, Josh Huff and Byron Marshall. … Marshall had another receiving touchdown during the period in which Hamani Stevens threw a great open-field block, and Marshall ran for a score, too. … Lockie had scoring passes to Daryle Hawkins and Evan Baylis during the drill, and Thomas Tyner ran for a couple scores. …
During pass-rush drills, I focused on Oregon's guards, who will be in the spotlight at Virginia due to the Cavaliers' four-man front. Stevens won a rep by holding off Jared Ebert, but overall the defensive line seemed to have the advantage. DeForest Buckner had a couple nice reps, one going against Jake Fisher, and Arik Armstead also was impressive during the drill, as usual.
Other observations: Chris Seisay was tested a couple times by the scout team while taking reps with the No. 2 defense, valuable experience for a true freshman on the bubble for playing time this season. Along with the four true freshmen who played last week, I'd expect to see Tyrell Robinson and Tyner play Saturday, and for Seisay, Devon Allen and Jake Pisarcik to make the trip east as well. … Josh Huff's blocking stood out a couple times during 11-on-11 segments focused on the run game. … The Ducks added three newcomers to practice today — tight end Davasyia (like Lavasier) Hagger, running back Jamias Jones and defensive lineman Jason Sloan. Hagger was in No. 82, Jones wore No. 37 and Sloan was No. 93.
Oregon Football Practice Report — Sept. 4
Release Date: 09/04/2013