By Rob Moseley
Venue: Outdoor practice fields
Format: Full pads
After the edge went to the defense in this morning’s practice, Marcus Mariota didn’t want to see more of the same Monday afternoon. But when the Ducks were warming up for the day’s second practice, Oregon’s junior quarterback didn’t like what he saw.
Just before the offensive players ran to one end of the field to join their defensive counterparts for pre-practice stretching, Mariota huddled them up. He then proceeded to read them the riot act, the typically soft-spoken quarterback raising his voice to a level teammates couldn't recall hearing before.
“It was inspiring to see Marcus kind of step out of his comfort zone,” senior offensive lineman Hamani Stevens said once the practice was in the books. “We were really sloppy in our warmups, and he just got on us. It was inspiring to see that, and it pushed everyone. … Marcus just set the tone, and the rest of practice, we had a great day.”
While the offense definitely had its moments over the course of the afternoon, the defense held fast in the final period, a “clutch” drill in which the offense needed to drive to a game-winning touchdown or field goal. The offense will have plenty of chances at redemption Tuesday, when the Ducks are scheduled to scrimmage in Autzen Stadium.
Today’s practice was held outdoors on a day when temperatures approached 100 degrees. Coaches and support staff were relentless in reminding players to hydrate, and players generally seemed to handle the conditions well.
“It’s a mindset,” Stevens said. “You can’t blame anything on outside influences like the heat or weather. You’ve just got to stay focused and play the game.”
Highlights: Troy Hill had a nice pass breakup to help spoil the No. 1 offense’s first drive during clutch, when a touchdown was required. Jeff Lockie and the twos got three first downs, one on a nifty completion to Johnathan Loyd, but couldn’t finish off the drive. When the offense needed a field goal, Mariota got them in position for a 32-yard kick, but a low snap foiled the attempt.
During earlier team periods, Thomas Tyner and Byron Marshall got to the second level in a running drill, and Lockie hit Loyd when the Ducks used play action to keep the defense honest. Freshman linebackers Jimmie Swain and Justin Hollins got in on tackles, and Danny Mattingly came up and thumped Royce Freeman; on the next play, Freeman turned the tables by getting past the line and splitting two defensive backs on a long gain. Later in the afternoon, Marshall and Freeman each added another long run, DeForest Buckner and Rodney Hardrick had multiple tackles for loss and Cody Carriger plucked a ball down at the line of scrimmage for a pick-six.
Other observations: Jamal Prater, Haniteli Lousi, Doug Brenner and Tyrell Crosby had notable reps for the offense in pass-rush drills, while Arik Armstead, Jalen Jelks and Stetzon Bair scored wins for the defense. … Bair capped a really impressive day all around, adding a couple tackles for loss in team situations this afternoon to follow up on his fumble recovery this morning. … As he has done from time to time over the course of his career, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu took some reps at safety this afternoon. … Mariota and Darren Carrington were really on the same page today, hooking up a number of times in one-on-one passing drills, 7-on-7 and team situations. …
Instead of the normal tempo drill, practice began with the offense given the ball to run one play down near the goal line. Morgan Mahalak and Kenny Bassett ran for touchdowns, Ekpre-Olomu broke up a pass in the end zone, Ryan McCandless recorded a sack and Mattingly had another big collision, this time with Tyner. … Erick Dargan made several plays over the course of practice, including an interception in one-on-ones. Ekpre-Olomu also broke up several passes during the day. … Mattingly took reps at one point with Johnny Ragin III as the other inside linebacker, a really intriguing tandem based on the way each has performed in practices so far as Ducks.