by Rob Moseley
Venue: Moshofsky Center
Format: Full Pads
In a normal week, Oregon graduate assistant coach Joe Bernardi would talk on the phone with his dad, Gary, a couple times a day.
Joe, a former offensive lineman at Fresno State, assists UO offensive line coach Steve Greatwood with the position here. Gary has been a major college assistant at seven West Coast schools since 1980, coaching offensive linemen all but one season. Naturally, they have a lot to talk about in a normal week.
But this is a not a normal week. Gary Bernardi is in his first year as the offensive line coach at Colorado, the opponent for Joe Bernardi and the Ducks this week.
"Right now, we pretty much text each other," Joe said. "We both know that we have a job to do, and respect each other's privacy on those types of things. We're good about it."
As Joe put it, this isn't the family's first rodeo. When Joe was a senior for the Bulldogs, in 2010, Gary was in his first year as a San Jose State assistant, working then as he does now for head coach Mike MacIntyre. The Bulldogs and Spartans played that year, a game Joe missed with an ankle injury.
"I was kind of one of those game-time decision deals, so I couldn't tell him the whole week that I wasn't going to play," Joe said. "I had to tell my family the whole week that I was going to play in the game, when I knew I wasn't going to play.
"In a situation like that, it’s hard. But it is what it is. It’s part of the job."
Joe said that, while it's hard on he and his father the week of such games, it's harder on the whole family once the game starts. And that's particularly so this week — Joe's twin sister, Briana, is married to Colorado cornerbacks coach Andy LaRussa.
So yes, this is a complicated week for the Bernardi family. (Also, for fellow GA Cha'pelle Brown, a former Colorado cornerback who was profiled today by The Register-Guard.)
Highlights: During a game week it isn't often that the No. 1 offense and defense go head-to-head. They're working against the scouts primarily. An exception is a point during the week in which a defensive unit is left out on the field to face, in quick succession, plays run by the No. 1 offense and No. 2 offense. Those units rotate onto the field while the defense stays out there.
Today featured one such period. Taylor Hart wrapped up Byron Marshall at the line on the first rep, and DeForest Buckner followed suit against a second-team running back. Thomas Tyner reached the second level on a run, and Ayele Forde squirted through the line on the fourth rep, after which the starting defense was given a reprieve.
The No. 2 defense then faced four plays in the same format, with Erick Dargan stopping a short pass near the line of scrimmage and Tyner getting bottled up at the line. The No. 1 defense then got back on the field for one more series, allowing a completion by Marcus Mariota to Johnny Mundt but otherwise holding its own.
Other observations: Colt Lyerla noted after Saturday's game that, while Pharaoh Brown hasn't had a breakout game yet, it's coming. Today's practice supported that line of thinking; Brown is a very reliable receiver, big enough to shield defenders and make the catch. Whenever the Ducks decide to target him in a game, he'll be yet another weapon in the arsenal. … Walk-on tight end Davaysia Hagger also is an amazing receiver. I don't have a sense of his other attributes, but his ball skills with the scout team are phenomenal.
Dargan had interceptions in both seven-on and team periods, and Buckner forced a fumble in team for the second day in a row. … Not sure how this would have played out live: Bralon Addison made a great catch of a Mariota pass, and had Bronson Yim bearing down on him just after the catch. Would Addison have held on and crossed the goal line if Yim had been free to hit him? We'll never know. … A couple victories for scouts today: Damion Hobbs connecting with Chris Tewhill in the end zone, and Stephen Amoako breaking up a Mariota pass intended for Eric Dungy.
Finally, De'Anthony Thomas met with media after practice, wearing pads but also a boot on his right lower leg. Thomas said he's "just being patient and waiting until I feel good" after leaving the Cal game with a sprained ankle suffered on the opening kickoff. He didn't speculate about his availability Saturday at Colorado.