Venue: Outdoor practice fields
Format: Helmets, jerseys and shorts
In some ways, the Ducks hit the ground running as they opened preseason camp with the first practice of the fall this afternoon. The tempo during drills was good, there were some impressive plays both ways, and Oregon took so many reps – as usual – that the newcomers all got plenty of snaps their very first day.
In other ways, it was very much a first day. Those newcomers had to be introduced to – and veterans reminded of – Oregon’s practice format, right down to the clapping in unison during “Joker & the Thief.”
During the stretch period just before drills began, Marcus Mariota was in the middle of the formation, barking out instructions to the rest of the team. Later, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu was on some fellow defensive players as they moved between fields, reminding them to jog rather than walk between drills.
Ultimately, Mark Helfrich told the Ducks afterward, “If today’s the baseline, we’re going to be in pretty good shape.” The enthusiasm was generally there, the effort was generally there. Helfrich of course wants to see the Ducks improve each and every day, but for a first day of camp, with a few basics to brush up on, he was generally pleased.
Highlights: As usual, practice began with an up-tempo team situation, and the defense yielded hardly at all. The offense got going a few minutes later; on the very first rep of 7-on-7, Mariota hit Johnny Mundt for a touchdown. Erick Dargan got revenge for the defense a couple plays later, leaping into the air and breaking up another potential Mariota-to-Mundt completion.
The team periods during the latter half of practice featured touchdown passes from Mariota to Darren Carrington, who weaved through the secondary to score; from Jeff Lockie to Johnathan Loyd and from Taylor Alie to Jalen Brown. Thomas Tyner, Royce Freeman and Ayele Forde all had long runs late in the day. With no pads on, the defense couldn’t really come up and hit, but Troy Hill had a couple of athletic pass breakups, playing with the ones in a secondary that also included Ekpre-Olomu, Dargan and Reggie Daniels.
Other observations: Recognizing there’s a lot of interest in newcomers, a few notes follow. Morgan Mahalak showed nice touch on a couple balls in 7-on-7, dropping them just over defenders and into the hands of receivers. … Freeman showed off some really sticky hands, and Tony James lined up at both running back and receiver, just as the roster lists him. Helfrich referred to Tyner and Byron Marshall today as “excellent all-purpose backs,” and it appears there are two more in the pipeline. … Jimmie Swain and Arrion Springs got their hands on potential interceptions they couldn’t quite haul in. …
During special teams drills, Charles Nelson fielded punts along with Ekpre-Olomu and Loyd. … Freeman, Justin Hollins, Jalen Jelks, Henry Mondeaux and Khalil Oliver all got some reps covering punts, with Tanner Carew snapping. … Johnny Ragin III, a transfer who arrived in April, practiced as an inside linebacker today. He’s on the roster as an outside linebacker, after practicing there this spring. Ragin has requested a waiver from the NCAA to be eligible this season, and could help bolster a position where the Ducks suffered some offseason attrition. … Former UO punter Jackson Rice was on hand, and will work as an intern this season in the Ducks’ recruiting office. He’ll be joined by former defensive lineman Zac Clark.