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Football Practice Report: Oct. 20

Oct 20, 2020

Venue: Outdoor practice fields
Format: Full pads

Three days after the first full scrimmage of preseason camp, the Oregon football team was back in full pads Tuesday morning and ramping up situational work.

The defense was generally considered to have an edge in Saturday's scrimmage, not unusual early in camp. At times both Monday and Tuesday the offense's passing game started really clicking, but in a scrimmage scenario to close out Tuesday's practice, the defense probably came out slightly ahead again.

The drill was a "four-minute/two-minute" scenario, in which the offense starts out with a lead and needing to kill a few minutes of clock, also known as "four-minute offense." If unsuccessful, the ball is turned over and another group comes in looking to come from behind and win the scenario — by running the "two-minute drill." Hence, "four-minute/two-minute."

As was the case Saturday, the first-team units faced off against each other, and so did the second-team groups. And when the first units were on the field, the defense got the better of things.

"Our defense, we snap back pretty quick," sophomore STUD linebacker Mase Funa said. "We made all our adjustments over the past weekend. These past few days have been phenomenal on the defensive side, throwing in new installs, throwing in quick adjustments to the offense."

Tuesday's practice-ending scenario began with the No. 1 offense looking to grind out the clock. A tackle by Jamal Hill stopped the first play after a minimal gain, and Kayvon Thibodeaux teamed with Austin Faoliu for a tackle on the next rep. Two plays later, a punt turned the ball over to Anthony Brown and the No. 2 offense looking to overcome a two-point deficit.

Brown completed four quick passes to get the ball into the red zone — one to Josh Delgado, two to Devon Williams and one to Spencer Webb. Tackles by Bradyn Swinson and Justin Flowe denied the offense a touchdown, but No. 2 placekicker Harrison Beattie came on and coolly drilled a 22-yard field goal to win the scenario.

The drill was reset with the No. 2 offense looking to run its four-minute offense, but this time the No. 2 defense got off the field. Again, though, the No. 1 defense held its own with the No. 1 offense looking to come from behind. It was another promising performance by a unit that improved immensely in 2019, and is looking to get back to that level now — if not exceed it.

"We're getting closer and closer," safety Steve Stephens IV said, "to where we need to be to play our caliber of football."

Other highlights: The last scenario belied what otherwise was a solid day for the No. 1 offense. The first full-contact 11-on-11 period of the day featured third-and-short plays, and Cyrus Habibi-Likio moved the chains on the first rep by spinning away from a defender. … Later in practice, Tyler Shough started off a scenario with three straight completions, to Jaylon Redd, Mycah Pittman and Johnny Johnson III. And then in the last 11-on-11 period before the "four-minute/two-minute drill," Shough and the offense got off the field in one play, an electric catch-and-run by Redd. …

The defense had some fun in the third-and-short drill, too. Thibodeaux and Brandon Dorlus teamed up to bring down Trey Benson, although the burly freshman didn't go down without a fight. Kristian Williams (above) wrapped up Sean Dollars at the line, and Popo Aumavae forced Cross Patton to cut back, right into the waiting grasp of Keyon Ware-Hudson. … Late in that drill, freshman Jackson LaDuke made a sack and then teamed with Nick Wiebe for a tackle for loss on consecutive reps. … DJ James and Flowe had interceptions over the course of the morning.

Other observations: Devon Williams flashed a couple different times Tuesday. After Flowe's interception, the big receiver didn't give up on the play but pursued the linebacker on the return, looking to strip the ball out. During the "four-minute/two-minute" drill, Williams had to use his length to bring in a pass, then turned on the jets to get yards after the catch and had the presence of mind to get out of bounds and stop the clock. … Kris Hutson was another young receiver who found ways to stand out. On one rep mid-practice, Hutson set a perimeter block that helped spring Travis Dye for extra yardage. Hutson was rewarded on the next rep by being targeted for a completion from Brown. …

To set the stage for the contact periods to come, position drills really emphasized physicality at the line of scrimmage. That meant a lot of sled work for the front seven and the offensive line, and blocking drills for the receivers (above). … There was good back-and-forth in 1-on-1 pass-rush drills as usual. At one point, big freshman defensive tackle Jayson Jones drove his man back off the line, and the head coach noticed. "Collapse the pocket!" Mario Cristobal yelled in recognition of the push Jones got. "Collapse the pocket!" …

Cornerbacks can earn attention for physical play too. During one 11-on-11 rep, Trikweze Bridges came up to the line to tackle a running back, and the defensive sideline exploded in cheers. … The Pac-12 on Tuesday announced some kickoff and TV information for Friday games to be played this season. On Nov. 20, UCLA will play at Oregon on ESPN at 7:30 p.m. The next week, the Ducks and Oregon State will meet on a Friday, with multiple kickoff times and TV slots still in play. Click here for more information.

Post-practice interviews:

Sophomore STUD Mase Funa

Sophomore safety Steve Stephens IV

Sophomore nickel Jamal Hill