by Rob Moseley
The Ducks held their second practice of the week in full pads
Venue: Grass practice fields
Format: Full pads
Today was a day on which the defense continued to look impressive, though the No. 1 offense found its way into the end zone on a red-zone drill to close out the morning.
Marcus Mariota had 1:10 and one timeout in which to march the offense 60 yards while facing a six-point deficit. He used the full array of weapons at his disposal, passing to Colt Lyerla, Keanon Lowe, Josh Huff, De'Anthony Thomas and Daryle Hawkins on the drive, and getting positive rushing yardage from Thomas, Huff and Mariota himself. Rodney Hardrick had a beautiful pass breakup at the goal line on the drive's penultimate play, but Huff followed with a "touchdown" for the offense.
The No. 2 defense evened the score. Jeff Lockie moved the offense across midfield with help from a couple completions to Johnny Mundt, but the defense forced a fourth-down situation and another pass fell incomplete.
I was also very impressed with the defensive effort during pass-rush drills. The defensive linemen really seemed to get the better of things in nearly every one-on-one matchup, with DeForest Buckner and Torrodney Prevot looking particularly effective.
Highlights: The FUJI period to start the day was held in the red zone, and the defense set the tone for the day right off the bat. Arik Armstead and Derrick Malone bottled up Thomas on a run play with the ones, and Troy Hill had an interception with the twos. Noteworthy, however, was how out of sorts the defense was in terms of alignment before the interception; the offense really had its tempo going during the drill.
There was an 11-on-11 period in the red zone later on, in which Mariota showed that if there's a breakdown in coverage, he's going to exploit it. He found Huff and Lyerla for touchdowns during the drive, throwing balls only the offensive player could possibly get a hand on. The defense made some plays, too, with Malone and Erick Dargan intercepting passes, and Tyson Coleman hauling in a ball tipped at the line by Alex Balducci.
Other observations: During the FUJI period, converted safety Oshay Dunmore took a few snaps with the twos, illustrating just how quickly his transition from safety to SAM linebacker is progressing.
"There's still a lot of learning I've got to do, but that goes for everyone," Dunmore said. "Just continuing to become an expert at your positon every day. ... Coaches are getting me lined up and helping me develop into a good SAM 'backer."
Dunmore had free reign defensively at Newport High on the Oregon coast, he said, playing something like a hybrid of a middle linebacker and a free safety. His job: prevent touchdowns. And some of the basics of his recent position change boil down to that, as well.
"You've still got to defend the run, you've still got to help defend the pass and you've still got to make tackles," Dunmore said. "A lot of it's the same stuff."
UO coaches have spoken of Dunmore's change in general terms, wanting to make best use of his size and athleticism. Two other possible factors: A desire to play Coleman at inside linebacker affecting depth at outside linebacker, and Tyree Robinson's development perhaps having coaches feeling good about depth at safety.
As far as Dunmore is concerned, the move is one he's embracing.
"I just consider myself a defensive player," the redshirt freshman said. "It's just, wherever they need me on the field, I'm going to go out there and give my all.
"If they want me to long snap, I'll come long snap. I just want to get on the field and play. Anywhere on defense -- or I'll come play offense if I have to. I just want to get out there and play."