By Rob Moseley
Venue: Outdoor practice fields
Format: Helmets only
After the first day off from practice of this preseason camp, the Ducks were back at it this morning for the first of two practices today, forecast to be the warmest, most humid day of camp yet.
The day of rest apparently did the Oregon defense some good, because that side of the ball was really flying around during a team red zone period to end practice. Of the seven “possessions” during the drill, the defense kept the offense out of the end zone five times, including the first rotation through the ones, twos and threes.
The first-team D line, led by DeForest Buckner, was really disruptive on the first possession, and Johnny Ragin III forced Jeff Lockie out of the pocket on third down with the twos. Morgan Mahalak connected with Ayele Forde to extend the threes’ first attempt, but Isaac Ava broke up a pass to keep them off the scoreboard.
The No. 3 defense even got on the scoreboard the next time it was on the field. There was a muffed exchange in the backfield, which Stetzon Bair scooped up before rumbling up the field flanked by several fellow defenders.
The big nose tackle isn't the most fleet of foot guy on the team, but he smelled paydirt. “On that one, yeah – there was nobody else around me,” he said later with a laugh.
The No. 1 offense did score on its second chance, as Mariota completed balls to Chance Allen and Dwayne Stanford before running it in himself. The twos then did likewise, with a Taylor Alie pass to Evan Baylis followed by a Kani Benoit scoring run.
Bair, who also jumped up at the line to swat down a pass in the tempo period to start practice, said the day off Sunday definitely did the Ducks some good.
“I definitely think we’re all pretty sore, but it’s a lot better than where we were, for sure,” Bair said. “That day’s huge.”
Highlights: The 7-on-7 period this morning required the offense to convert second-and-long situations, and Mariota’s group had several one-rep conversions, including a touchdown pass to Darren Carrington. But Mariota was also picked off by Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, and the defensive group got back-to-back pass breakups from Justin Hollins and Michael Manns at one point, and from Khalil Oliver and Jimmie Swain.
Other observations: The day began better than it ended for the offense, with Mariota hitting Stanford in the end zone on the very first play of the tempo drill. … Lockie and Devon Allen also connected, and the only question was whether Allen could have shed a safety’s tackle to score. … True freshman defensive end Henry Mondeaux took some reps with the second team, and was involved in a sack during tempo. ... Practice ended with a 37-yard field-goal attempt by newcomer Aidan Schneider. From my angle it looked to be on line, with just enough distance.