By Rob Moseley
Venue: Autzen Stadium
Format: Fast Friday
The lights went down in Oregon’s team theater Tuesday night, and the projection screen lit up. Mark Helfrich stood at the front of the room, showing the Ducks footage from national sports programs discussing the Heisman Trophy race.
The point was, there’s a certain player not getting enough mention. A player from Oregon. The theater erupted when a UO highlight was finally shown … and there was walk-on offensive lineman Brigham Stoehr, running free down the field and catching a pass with the scout-team offense in Monday’s practice.
The production was tongue-in-cheek, but the message was real. What players like Stoehr mean to the program deserves attention. This week in particular, guys like Stoehr, Brian Teague and Lane Roseberry were crucial to the Ducks’ preparations as the UO defense readied itself to face the jumbo formations of the Stanford offense.
“They handled it great,” said UO graduate assistant Mike Keldorf, who coordinates the scout-team offense. “Brighs had to play more of a tight end role, and he handled it great. Lane took every single rep at fullback, which was huge, because we were in two-back sets for a lot of practice. And Teague was another guy that we used as both a lineman and a tight end, which fits perfect for him considering he’s played both positions.”
Stoehr is a 6-foot, 280-pound native of Moorpark, Calif., who passed up some opportunities to play at small colleges in his home state in order to walk on with the Ducks. He practices at guard and center typically, but was used as a tackle and tight end this week as Oregon prepared for Stanford formations that can feature seven and eight offensive linemen.
“You’ve got to move around based on what the team needs,” Stoehr said. “I’m here to fill whatever spot they need. If I’ve got to play tight end, I’ll play tight end; if I’ve got to play running back – they’re not going to put me there, but whatever helps.”
Though he had lined up as an eligible receiver for certain plays, Stoehr had yet to actually run a route by Monday, the third practice of the week. That all changed when he released from the line, looked back over his shoulder, caught a pass and lumbered into the end zone, trailed closely by jubilant fellow linemen, including Teague.
It was the first reception of Stoehr’s life, he said.
“I had to savor the moment, because it my first – and maybe last – touchdown against, what, the No. 2 defense in the country?” he said.
Stoehr was an all-county lineman for Moorpark High as a senior last fall. He passed up chances to play at smaller colleges in his home state, instead choosing to walk on with the Ducks.
“I was like, might as well go for my dream of playing for a D-I school,” he said. “Might as well shoot for my dreams, and fall short if I happen to, than having never done it at all.”
If nothing else, Stoehr will always remember his brief Heisman campaign.
“I felt included from the get-go here anyways -- they do a great job of bringing freshmen in and making them a part of the team,” Stoehr said. “But it was a great feeling seeing my face up there.”
Scout-team scrimmage highlights: The first play was a nice check-down by Damion Hobbs for a touchdown to Davaysia Hagger, ironic because the defense dominated play the rest of the period. … Stephen Amoako stripped a receiver and picked up the fumble, and Juwaan Williams broke up a pass in the end zone. … Cody Carriger made a stop on a short pass, and later forced a fumble in the backfield. … Stetzon Bair, Mike Garrity, David Kafovalu and Danny Mattingly all stopped running backs for little or no gain.
Note: Because the travel team was reviewing plays and schemes for Thursday’s game, there are no highlights to pass along from them.