By Rob Moseley
Venue: Outdoor practice fields
Format: T-shirts and shorts
With more than a week left before a Thursday showdown at Stanford, the No. 2 Ducks began bye-week practices today with a non-contact workout on a cold but sunny morning in Eugene.
Temperatures dipped under 30 degrees overnight, and were still there when the players arrived this morning, three days after their 42-14 win over UCLA to improve to 8-0 overall and 5-0 in the Pac-12. The team then reported for a rare outdoor Tuesday workout, which could be termed a “practice” only in the loosest sense.
Physically, today involved only about 45 minutes’ worth of calisthenics – lunges, bear crawls and such. But there was more to it than that.
“Today’s just about team-building,” UO coach Mark Helfrich said. “Get them moving a little bit, get the kinks out from the game, get treatment, get healthy and then get cranking tomorrow.”
There were a couple different team-building aspects to the workout. For one thing, as the players lined up along the length of the field to begin drills, they weren’t allowed to stand next to anybody from their position group.
Also, the drills were picked by a leader who stepped to the front of the group, unprompted, then led the team with military precision, cries of “right … left … right ... left” echoing off the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex. The guys who took that initiative today were senior defensive end Taylor Hart, senior safety Brian Jackson and sophomore left tackle Tyler Johnstone. Prominent displays of leadership, there.
Rest assured, though, there was plenty of focus on the Stanford game already, even if it wasn’t in practice. That comes in film, meetings and treatment.
“From a physical standpoint, there’s a dead end on that,” Helfrich said. “From a mental standpoint, absolutely we’re starting that today.”
The Ducks will have “two tough days” of work Wednesday and Thursday, he said. Friday is an off-day, and then Saturday starts the normal five-practice preparation for the Thursday game at Stanford.
Other observations: Only about half of the coaching staff was on hand this morning. Presumably the other guys were out recruiting. … Helfrich celebrated his 40th birthday Monday in typically understated fashion – dinner with his wife, he said.