By Rob Moseley
Venue: Outdoor practice fields
Walking to the parking lot Tuesday evening, I was chatting with another staff member who remarked that it already seemed like preseason camp had been going on three or four weeks. The sense of routine set in after only two or three days, and that was a full week ago already.
That feeling must be particularly acute for players, who are taking on a huge load both mentally and physically in preparation for the season. After practice this morning, Mark Helfrich noted that players have been “overloaded” with more schemes than they’d ever need for any single game during the season.
Helfrich also acknowledged the physical toll camp takes, by giving the Ducks a break this afternoon, when a second practice had been scheduled. Instead the team will attend meetings and athletic treatment, one day after Tuesday’s full-contact scrimmage.
“Going into the season, the only day you’ll probably be 100 percent is the first day,” said senior safety Erick Dargan, whose tip-tip-tip-tip-interception juggling act was a highlight of team drills today. “So any time you get time off for recovery, you want to take advantage of it. That’s what we plan to do today.”
Usually a morning practice would be in helmets only, with very little hitting. With no second workout today, the Ducks were in shells, and held a longer workout than the typical morning.
Highlights: The offense started well today after finishing the scrimmage strong. Neither the ones nor twos got into the end zone in the tempo period to open practice, but both moved the ball as well as they have so far this month – a welcome quick start after they started slow Tuesday. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu broke up a pass in the end zone with the ones, after a Royce Freeman run and Dwayne Stanford reception got Marcus Mariota and company into the red zone. Jeff Lockie threw a really nice deep ball to Darren Carrington that just missed the mark for the twos; again, though neither unit “scored,” it seems like the offense is starting to find its rhythm.
During the next team period, Mariota had a breakaway run, though on later keepers he was stuffed when Christian French and Rodney Hardrick correctly diagnosed plays. … Ekpre-Olomu and Juwaan Williams had nice pass breakups during 7-on-7, and after practice Helfrich praised the work Williams put in. … A red-zone period featured two Mariota touchdown passes to Devon Allen, one by Lockie and another by Taylor Alie. On the flip side, DeForest Buckner and Alex Balducci collapsed the pocket a couple times to force incompletions.
Other observations: Former UO and NFL punter Josh Bidwell attended practice. He spent some time chatting with Ian Wheeler, who got the first reps at punter during Tuesday’s scrimmage. … Ayele Forde is spending a ton of time at receiver in position drills. He’s got really good hands out there, and had a nice block to clear space for Devon Allen during the tempo period to open practice. … Jake Fisher was one of the last guys off the field, and looked to be working on his footwork coming out of a left tackle stance. …
Walk-on Jeff Bieber caught Lockie’s touchdown pass in the red zone. A few minutes later, Bieber went over the middle but couldn’t come up with the reception after getting hit by Johnny Ragin III. … Freeman had a potential touchdown in the red zone, depending on the result of a collision with Dargan had the play been live. Freeman broke free and scored during the final team period. … Henry Mondeaux continues to look really effective as a pass rusher, and he bottled up Freeman on one rush. Mondeaux drove arguably Oregon’s most powerful blocker, Hamani Stevens, backwards in a pass-rush rep; the guy who gave Mondeaux the most trouble during that drill was fellow true freshman Tyrell Crosby, who also has been consistently sharp so far.