by Rob Moseley
Venue: Autzen Stadium
Format: Helmets, jerseys and shorts
The Ducks held their pregame walk-through this morning in the stadium, and now will ramp the tempo back up Friday in advance of Saturday's visit from Tennessee. The tempo is really slowed down for these sessions, so that players can emphasize recognition and communication against the scouts pre-snap, and then assignments and execution after the snap.
That said, there is a sense of urgency to rep everything as much as possible. "We can't see this stuff enough, guys, we can't see it enough," John Neal yelled at one point. "Over and over and over and over."
The offense, defense and special teams rep all the plays they'll use in the game, so as usual I won't bother going into specific highlights or personnel stuff from this one. Instead, we've got an update on a couple recent alums of the program, Michael Clay and Jackson Rice, who made the eight-hour drive up from the Bay Area last night and attended practice today.
Clay and Rice have been working out together in the East Bay Area, basing themselves out of Rice's hometown of Moraga. They're working out together after each getting shots in NFL camps this past offseason, though Rice sounds a little more serious about continuing to pursue that dream.
Rice, Oregon's punter the last four years, had a rookie-camp tryout with the Redskins in the spring. Spurned by both the NFL Scouting Combine and in the draft, he said he "probably wasn't mentally there" like he needed to be for the Redskins camp. But he's keeping himself sharp now, either for a midseason chance or more likely an opportunity next offseason.
"I'm in a much better mental state now," Rice said. "I'm approaching every day much differently than I was, and I feel like I'm much better prepared now."
Clay, the Ducks' leading tackler last year, was with the Dolphins on a free-agent contract in preseason camp. He called that a valuable experience, and said he'll answer the phone if it rings in the future. But he also expressed interest in returning to Oregon as a graduate assistant coach.
"Football doesn't last forever," said Clay, who has been helping his father coach the junior varsity at his alma mater, Bellarmine Prep in San Jose, Calif. "If I had a master's in my back pocket, I'd be doing pretty well for myself."
Back on campus for the weekend, Clay and Rice will finally have a chance to tour the Ducks' new football building. They watched it being constructed the last couple years, and now finally get a chance to experience it.
"It was a tease the whole time," Rice said. "Mike and I keep joking that we regret not redshirting so we could have had at least one year in it."
Rice said Eugene "is always going to be home to me," and you could see why from the way numerous players and coaches made a point of exchanging handshakes and hugs over the course of practice today.
"That's just the kind of team we are, just a fun, huge family," Rice said.
Observations: Mark Helfrich called today Oregon's "best mental day of the year." He acknowledged a somewhat sloppy day earlier this week, but made it sound like the Ducks were definitely back on track by this morning. … Matt Wogan nailed a 33-yard field goal early in the day. Alejandro Maldonado has taken both of the Ducks' field-goal attempts through two games, but I wouldn't be shocked to see Wogan get a shot at some point. Would still figure to see Maldonado take the first attempt in a game. … Not the edgiest of predictions, but I gotta think Johnny Mundt finally gets his first career reception this week. He's played a ton of snaps the last two weeks but hasn't caught a pass yet.