By Rob Moseley
Venue: Moshofsky Center
Format: Full pads
Earlier today, UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone indicated to reporters that the Bruins would likely need to start a third true freshman offensive lineman against Oregon this week, guard Scott Quessenberry.
Quessenberry, a 6-foot-3, 288-pound native of La Costa, Calif., has played in just one game this season. That’s not much film available for Oregon’s defensive coaches and players to study.
But Quessenberry isn’t a total unknown to the Ducks. Oregon recruited him, and so just in the last year was breaking down his high school film, getting a feel for Quessenberry as a player. He’s one of a number of players recruited by both Oregon and UCLA entering their 4 p.m. matchup in Autzen Stadium on Saturday, providing an air of familiarity to the Pac-12 battle.
In recent years, the Bruins and Stanford have been among Oregon’s most prominent competitors in recruiting. Just as the Ducks were after Quessenberry, the Bruins already had a sense for Thomas Tyner’s skills from recruiting, prior to Tyner having contributed for the Ducks over their first seven games.
“Obviously they recruit Southern California as well as anybody, and they have a national appeal as well, as hopefully we do,” UO coach Mark Helfrich said. “I don’t know exactly what type of kid they’re after, but yeah, there’s been a bunch of overlap.”
How much help can that be? In Quessenberry’s case, he’s at least not a complete unknown. But the Ducks know he’ll have developed quite a bit since coming under the tutelage of college coaches.
“A little bit, a little bit,” Helfrich said of the level of familiarity. “But you never know a guy, necessarily, until you’re coaching him. Just the true personality of a guy, or what type of player he is.”
Quessenberry is being pressed into action because left tackle Simon Goines’ knee injury suffered last week against Stanford proved serious. The Bruins reportedly will shift left guard Xavier Su’a-Filo out to tackle and insert Quessenberry at guard, on a line that already includes true freshmen Alex Redmond and Caleb Benenoch on the right side.
“It’s funny, you watch their line and it’s not like you’re going ‘That’s the true freshmen,’” Helfrich said. “They played really well for the past few games. ... It’s not a situation where you could block out the numbers and go, ‘There’s two guys that are new,’ which sometimes you can.”
Helfrich said there are ways to try to put pressure on a young player pressed into action, but that coaches won't be inclined to deviate too much from their usual scheme. He said Washington State made a few tweaks last week, for instance, when the Ducks started true freshman Cameron Hunt at right tackle.
"They did a couple things that you could tell (were different) -- and not necessarily huge schematic things -- and he handled those really well," Helfrich said. "Things he had to adjust to that were a little bit out of the norm, he did really well. Mentally he's been good.
"His biggest thing is, he just plays really hard. He's a tough guy, and he's going to be a really good player."
Highlights: Moments from throughout the day … Bralon Addison leaping for an underthrown deep ball, reaching behind the defensive back to get the football and hauling it in as he fell down. … Wade Keliikipi reaching out with one hand and grabbing the jersey of a scout-team running back trying to race past, stopping him in his tracks. … Pharaoh Brown turning back to look for the ball in one-on-ones, seeing it coming to his other shoulder and spinning around 360 degrees to make the catch and continue his progress. …
Josh Huff reaching down to snare a pass just before it hit the turf, and managing to keep his balance and continue upfield. … A couple red-zone highlights for scouts: Kani Benoit blasting off tackle for a touchdown, and Tyree Robinson reaching out to break up a potential TD pass from Marcus Mariota to Johnny Mundt.
Other observations: Just a coincidence that the guy playing the role of UCLA star linebacker Anthony Barr this week is himself a converted tight end, scout-teamer T.J. Daniel? For what it’s worth, I made a point of trying to identifying the scout playing Barr this afternoon, and on the next play Daniel swooped in to intercept a pass right at the line. (Couldn’t help of Akeem Ayers' interception against the Ducks a few years ago.) … I don’t get how anybody manages to block DeForest Buckner, ever. Not after watching him in one-on-one pass rush drills. … Mundt had a nice bounce-back moment during one-on-ones. He was blanketed by Tony Washington on his first rep and couldn’t make a catch, but bounced back to make a couple of nice catches when matched up with Boseko Lokombo, reaching out to grab a slightly overthrown ball in the back corner of the end zone.