By Rob Moseley
Venue: Outdoor practice fields
Format: Full pads
The Ducks wrapped up the second week of preseason camp this afternoon. They’ll get a day away from the practice fields Sunday before resuming work Monday.
Mark Helfrich said afterward the staff has installed essentially a season’s worth of schemes, and is still at the tail end of the installation phase. That figures to continue through Wednesday, prior to Thursday’s scrimmage, an unofficial end to preseason camp.
“Once we get into game mode, which won’t be until late next week, we’ll really start refining things,” Helfrich said.
Some of the review right now is on finer points, such as a clock management situation the Ducks went through late in today’s practice. The offense had a lead and a few minutes of clock to kill, while the defense wanted to force a turnover or a quick stop to have a chance at a “comeback.”
The No. 1 offense moved the chains when Devon Allen caught a pass and did a good job of staying inbounds. But a few plays later, Helfrich penalized the offense for trying to call a timeout it didn’t have based on the rules of scenario as laid out beforehand; ultimately the defense forced a punt with about a minute left.
The No. 2 offense, on the other hand, successfully “won” the scenario. Kenny Bassett had a couple runs to move the chains, and then Jeff Lockie used a really nice ball fake to get another first down. He then took a knee for the “victory.”
“We’ve got some guys that, a lot of them haven’t played in college before, and a bunch of them haven’t played here,” Helfrich said. “Just reaffirming their knowledge in rules and regulations at this level. That kind of stuff is something we have to hammer even a little bit more than normal.”
Highlights: The penultimate play of practice was one of the most spectacular reps of camp so far. Taylor Alie had led the No. 2 offense to a touchdown in an overtime drill, so Marcus Mariota and company needed to respond. Mariota was flushed from the pocket and scrambling around, and Allen looked like he might be open in the front corner of the end zone. Mariota lofted a pass that way, which went just over the head of Allen … and into the arms of Keanon Lowe, who came sliding across the back of the end zone for the touchdown.
Was it skill or luck on the part of the quarterback? “Because Marcus threw it, he probably knew exactly where Keanon was going to be,” one coach said afterward, only half joking. (It should be noted, however, that Tyree Robinson broke up a pass in the end zone on an attempted “game-winning” two-point conversion.) That drive also included a great second effort by Royce Freeman to move the chains on third down, followed by passes broken up in the end zone by Chris Seisay and Rodney Hardrick, prior to Lowe’s touchdown.
Other observations: The Ducks practiced in their yellow game helmets, testing the fit as the season approaches, which they’ll presumably do with the other versions in the coming days. … Austin Maloata is an absolute beast. The two lines did a 3-on-2 drill with three blockers against two defenders, and the tandem of Maloata and Henry Mondeaux really looked good. Maloata drove Hroniss Grasu back a couple yards on one rep, and on another the freshman defeated an attempted double team by Andre Yruretagoyena and Doug Brenner. Just a very aggressive, physical player. … Maloata also had a highlight of the day’s opening drill, a bit of fun in which linemen ran routes against each other. He caught a pass from Mariota, and Mondeaux also caught a pass, though the high school tight end wasn’t exactly out of his comfort zone. …
Speaking of Maloata, Helfrich mentioned him among a group of players possibly in line to contribute this season. That group also includes Freeman, Charles Nelson, Jalen Brown and Tyrell Crosby on offense, and Jimmie Swain and Khalil Oliver on defense, Helfrich said, acknowledging that there could be other names he was overlooking. The guy with the best chance to play right away is long snapper Tanner Carew, given the need there. … Seisay is a guy who has really seemed to step it up this week; Robinson and Juwaan Williams did so as well in the secondary. …
Pharaoh Brown was pretty dominant in a 3-on-3 receiving drill that tested blocking and tackling on the perimeter. The next drill was down in the red zone, and he secured a touchdown catch after a defender tried to break up a pass and the ball popped into the air. … Darren Carrington had several nice plays during that period, while Erick Dargan, Johnny Ragin III and Robinson had interceptions. … During the first team period, grad assistant Joe Bernardi, who helps Steve Greatwood with the offensive line, stressed tempo to the quarterbacks. “Get this line playing as fast as possible,” Bernardi said. “If they’re out of breath, you’re doing something right.”