by Rob Moseley
Oregon held the first situational scrimmage of preseason camp this afternoon.
Venue: Autzen Stadium
Format: Full pads
Situations: The offense did clutch, red-zone and second-and-long scenarios, and special teams worked on everything but kickoff return.
Highlights: The Ducks' scrimmage began with the edge to the defense, as had been the case for much of the last week. Each of the three offensive units opened the day needing to drive to a "game-winning" touchdown; none did so, with Joe Walker ending the drive for the ones by intercepting a tipped pass from Marcus Mariota to Daryle Hawkins. But the offenses began to turn it around when a field goal was required, with the ones and threes both successfully completing the "comeback."
Then things really got rolling, and ultimately it seemed to me the Ducks ran the ball today as well as they have so far this month. Byron Marshall had a 17-yard touchdown run to cap a drive that started at midfield, and later had a 23-yard gain in a second-and-long scenario. Lane Roseberry had an 18-yard run during second-and-long and a short touchdown in the red zone later in the day, and both Kani Benoit and Kenny Bassett had some nice moments as well. In interviews afterward, both head coach Mark Helfrich and offensive line coach Steve Greatwood said they still want to see more physical play from the offensive line. But given the strength of Oregon's defensive line, the showing by the running game today was a positive development.
Among the other scoring plays were a 13-yard pass from Jeff Lockie to Blake Stanton; a 24-yard pass from Jake Rodrigues to Chance Allen; and a 30-yard connection between Mariota and Josh Huff. Mariota was kicking himself after the scrimmage for a second interception he threw, during the red-zone drill. He said he was anticipating the wrong route from a receiver, and threw the ball right to safety Ben Butterfield in the end zone. But he had another positive moment midway through the scrimmage when the pocket broke down and, with chaos breaking out around him, Mariota kept his composure and found Marshall for a 25-yard gain.
Most entertaining period: Several newcomers to the roster made their presence felt late in the scrimmage, particularly during red-zone drills. Just prior to that scenario, receiver Darren Carrington broke several tackles on a 41-yard touchdown reception, though his ball security left something to be desired. Carrington then made a nice 11-yard grab in traffic in the red zone, setting up a short touchdown run for Benoit.
Kicker Matt Wogan also had a strong day, I thought. He was perfect on five field-goal attempts, including a 47-yarder to end the scrimmage. And he nearly put one kickoff out of the back of the end zone. Alejandro Maldonado missed his chance from 47 yards but was otherwise perfect.
Other observations: Running back Thomas Tyner left the scrimmage midway through and was on crutches with a boot later. Helfrich offered no details on his status. … Left tackle Tyler Johnstone continues to impress in his role as backup long snapper. He made two tackles well down the field on punts this afternoon. … At least two offensive linemen, Cameron Hunt and Andre Yruretagoyena, played three different positions over the course of the scrimmage. … Several guys look ready to help on multiple special teams this season, including Reggie Daniels, Issac Dixon, Oshay Dunmore and Tyrell Robinson. … Terrance Mitchell was involved in the wildest play of the day, trying to field a punt in traffic but muffing it, then returning it from midfield for a touchdown — which was called back due to a penalty. And had the play not already been flagged, punter Dylan Ausherman might have made the tackle anyway. Still, it was a crazy little scenario. … Helfrich said the Ducks ran about 130 plays today, and I counted around a half-dozen flags from the officials on hand, nothing egregious
Up next: The Ducks will practice twice on Wednesday.
BASKETBALL - M
BASKETBALL - W
GOLF - M
GOLF - W
TENNIS - M
TENNIS - W
TRACK & FIELD
Mon, Dec 30
Football 3:45 PM
Valero Alamo Bowl
San Antonio, Texas