by Rob Moseley
Venue: Autzen Stadium
Format: Jerseys and shorts
So it was only natural this week that, with the UO scout-team offense needing extra receivers to replicate Washington's up-tempo, spread attack, the Ducks would turn to the two true freshman defensive backs. Robinson, a safety, and Williams, a cornerback, spent this week not breaking up passes but trying to catch them against Oregon's starting defensive backs, earning them places in this week's "scout-team spotlight."
"It's great giving them a look," Williams said. "I play with them in individuals every day, and now I'm just trying to make them better as much as I can."
Williams, a native of Tucker, Ga., played receiver as a high school sophomore before moving to quarterback as a junior and senior, while playing defensive back as well. Robinson, out of San Diego, scored 10 touchdowns on his 17 receptions as a prep senior.
Robinson made perhaps the play of the week in practice Wednesday. On an overthrown deep ball, he reached out and tipped the ball into the air, giving him time to run under it for the reception.
"It all came pretty natural," said Robinson, at 6-foot-4 and a lithe 200 pounds one of the most graceful athletes on the entire roster. "It was fun to play offense again, get that feel for playing receiver again."
The veteran defensive backs seemed to enjoy it as well. It seemed like whenever Williams or Robinson caught a pass with the scout team, the vets took a few extra liberties in terms of getting a lick in on them.
Williams laughed at what he considered an indoctrination tactic.
"Now that they have the chance, they're going to take it, just bring me into the DB unit," he said.
In all seriousness, though, Williams thought the chance to catch passes for a few days this week could only help his development as a corner.
"Playing receiver, you get the ins and outs of what they do and how they try to beat a DB," Williams said. "You take that to mind as a DB, how to stop them from beating you. It will help in the long run — knowing what their break point is, how to defend the ball, how to defend the back-shoulder throw."
Other observations: Today's practice was Oregon's "Fast Friday" up-tempo walk-through, reinforcing concepts from earlier in the week but at a quicker pace than on Thursday. … As usual, the travel party's walk-through was preceded by 10 minutes of scrimmaging for the rest of the roster. Some highlights: Outside linebacker Mike Garrity with a couple tackles for loss, Stephen Amoako breaking up a pass and coming up to stop a run play, Damion Hobbs completing balls down the field to Darren Carrington and Jeff Stolzenburg, and Kani Benoit getting to the second level on a run. … I know everyone wants to know the status of De'Anthony Thomas, but that's something that won't be answered until game time Saturday.