by Rob Moseley
It was "Fast Friday" for the Ducks, as they ramped their tempo back up after a mental day Thursday.
Venue: Autzen Stadium
Format: Jerseys and shorts
Under the reconfigured practice format the Ducks have utilized the past few seasons, they held their low-tempo walk-through on Thursday, and today ramped it back up inside the stadium. There were no helmets on, but it was an up-tempo rehearsal of all the plays and potential substition situations the Ducks might need against Nicholls, everything from the hands team for an onside kick to hustling out the field-goal unit in the final seconds after the offense spikes the ball with no timeouts left.
The short workout began with a scout-team scrimmage, a chance for players who have been running Nicholls' plays all week to brush up on Oregon's own offensive and defensive concepts.
As is the case with Thursdays, there's little point in passing along play and personnel information this close to the game, so rather than highlights and other observations we'll kick off a new Friday feature called ...
Scout-team spotlight: With input from Oregon graduate assistant coaches Joe Bernardi and Mike Keldorf, who help organize the scout teams each week, we'll highlight a guy who put in particularly good effort each week, or was otherwise instrumental in helping the Ducks prepare to face a particular opponent.
Among the nominees this week was running back Lane Roseberry, whose impact I wrote about earlier this week, and whose effort as a scout has earned him a spot on the travel roster to Virginia next week. Also mentioned was linebacker Grant Thompson, like Roseberry a veteran of the scout team who's mature enough to know how to help the team in the role.
But a newcomer to the team is also standing out to the GAs already, that being offensive lineman Doug Brenner.
"He had a consistent week for us," Keldorf said. "He was able to communicate calls in our offensive terminology to the other linemen to make our practice run more smoothly up front. He is a sharp kid, with an unbelievably selfless attitude. Hard working 'yes sir, no sir' kind of guy."
Brenner is a Portland kid who can play center, a position where the Ducks are stacked with talent: Hroniss Grasu, Karrington Armstrong, and if necessary Hamani Stevens or Mana Greig. He has quickly embraced his role for this season as a scout.
"It's just a great opportunity for us to get the defense better, and at the same time for us to get better," Brenner said. "It's mainly young guys on the scout team, and for us to be having so many reps against the best of the best in the nation, it's just a great opportunity."
In order to keep themselves up on Oregon's offensive terminology, Brenner and the scouts use that verbiage even while running opponents' plays. Then in the scrimmage this morning, they got a chance to match Oregon's terminology with the Ducks' own plays.
In scout-team meetings before practices, coaches discuss the keys they've seen from Nicholls on film -- splits by the offensive linemen and what they may indicate, for instance -- and then it's the duty of Brenner and the other scouts to replicate them on the field.
"Anything we can do to give the defense a better look, that's what we're trying to do," Brenner said.