By Rob Moseley
Venue: Autzen Stadium
Oregon State boasts a big-armed quarterback in Sean Mannion, whose 371.7 yards per game and 34 passing touchdowns are both second nationally this season. OSU receiver Brandin Cooks leads the country with 141.8 yards per game, and his 32 plays from scrimmage of 20-plus yards are six more than anyone else.
The Beavers’ defense is in the bottom half of the Pac-12 statistically, but it has been opportunistic, with 17 interceptions and 24 total takeaways, tied with Oregon for third in the conference.
Despite all of those numbers – as impressive as they are – the Ducks’ focus entering Friday’s Civil War remains squarely on themselves. That’s usually the case leading up to a game, but never more so than heading into Friday’s 4 p.m. game at Autzen Stadium.
“Especially after last week,” UO coach Mark Helfrich said after practice today, in reference to the disheartening loss at Arizona, in which the Ducks came out flat and then couldn’t match the Wildcats’ intensity over the remainder of the game.
“Hopefully our young guys are learning a valuable lesson: that your mental focus, your level of intensity for anybody, has to be piqued. And that’s why we talk about it that way.”
So far, Helfrich likes what he’s seen from the Ducks’ response to their second loss, which knocked them out of the Pac-12 title race.
He told players after practice this has been “a really good work week” so far, and that film review showed yesterday’s practice to be the best, most physical “Wednesday” workout of the season. (The Ducks’ practice schedule is moved up a day because of the Friday game, making Tuesday of this week like a Wednesday on the practice calendar.)
But the true test, Oregon knows, comes Friday, in the mentality the Ducks bring into the game. It will be senior day, with a rival on hand. But the Ducks can’t just assume those factors will spark their intensity. They need to bring it individually, and not sit back and wait for a teammate to do so.
Especially, as Helfrich said, after last week.
Other observations: Given the moved-up practice schedule, today was Oregon’s walk-through. So, “Fast Friday” will be held on Thursday, and there will be no practice report from that one. … Helfrich said the team will have an extended break Thursday afternoon, with meetings tomorrow night moved back to allow for a Thanksgiving meal. Players will eat with teammates who live locally, or with position coaches. … Among today’s practice guests was Dave Randall, an Oregon fan who last year lost a son to the condition that claimed running backs coach Gary Campbell’s son this fall. Randall contacted Campbell earlier this year, and the two spent some time together after practice today.