By Rob Moseley
Venue: Moshofsky Center
Format: Full pads
At the conclusion of Tuesday’s practice, Mark Helfrich assembled his team to talk about the upcoming schedule. Following another practice Wednesday, the Ducks would have a day off, and then two days light on hitting Friday and Saturday before leaving town for a brief holiday break.
Wednesday would be the last full-contact practice prior to Oregon’s arrival in San Antonio for the Alamo Bowl next week. Helfrich made no bones about how he expected the team to approach it – he wanted to see a war, Helfrich told them Tuesday.
Today – after a brief false start – he got it. The Ducks were banging on both sides of the ball, the scout team had several standout moments as it prepares the team to face Texas on Dec. 30, and while Helfrich said afterward there still some issues with execution, he liked the effort he got.
“It was a lot more physical, especially in the team run period,” Helfrich said, focusing on an 11-on-11 period featuring primarily run plays early in the day. “We re-started one period to get a little bit more physical, and we installed things on both sides of the ball so there was a little hesitation, but when we re-started it, it was very physical.”
The false start came early on, with the ones and twos facing off each other rather than against scouts. That seemed to get the team’s attention, because the hitting was intense after that, whether it was DeForest Buckner throwing a running back around like a rag doll in the team run period, or Tyler Johnstone and Evan Baylis getting upfield to seal off space on a Marcus Mariota touchdown run.
“We started off a little slow, but we redid it and everybody picked it up after that,” Johnstone said. “The scout team was going really hard, and it was battle back and forth, for sure.”
Added Buckner: “The defense, we played a little tougher today. We have a lot of new stuff we’re putting in, and we’re getting used to it – that’s why coach had to restart one of our periods. But I feel like, yeah, we gave him a little war once we got all that stuff fixed.”
Highlights: The day began with the ones, twos and threes each facing off for a single snap. Mariota and Bralon Addison connected for a gain with the ones, Ayele Forde stiff-armed a defensive back for a long run with the twos, and T.J. Daniel stopped a run play at the line for the three defense. … Thomas Tyner and Jake Rodrigues had long gains during the team run period, and Tyner later broke two tackles for a touchdown in the red zone. …
Both Helfrich and several players mentioned the great showing by scouts today. Daniel had another tackle for loss later in the day, Darren Carrington was catching passes all over the place while playing the role of Texas’ big-play receiver Mike Davis, and Eric Amoako broke up at least two Mariota passes, one in the red zone. … During a pass period late in practice, Bucker tipped two balls at the line and Arik Armstead got to another.
Other observations: Isaac Ava, at 260 pounds the biggest linebacker on the roster, got some reps with the travel squad today. He made his presence felt, too, with a couple of big stops during team run. … Addison and Mariota had several nice connections, good to see after Addison was out sick a couple days last week. … Jeff Lockie had the honor of breaking the post-practice huddle, after being lauded by Helfrich for a 4.06 grade-point average in the fall. … The Ducks will have a team meeting and medical treatment Thursday morning, and a movie night later in the day.