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Football Practice Report: Oct. 27

Oct 27, 2020

Venue: Outdoor practice fields
Format: Full pads

Practice resumed for the Oregon football team Tuesday morning, after a pause while the Ducks abided by pandemic protocols.

Five student-athletes tested positive for COVID-19 during the team's daily antigen testing regimen Saturday. That resulted in a cancelation of the team's highly anticipated Saturday night scrimmage, and led to those five players being isolated from the team.

Two independent labs then were tasked with analyzing PCR test results from the five. The program announced Tuesday that all five were determined to be false positives, and that those players had joined the rest of the team for the resumption of practice Tuesday morning.

"We got after it," UO coach Mario Cristobal said Tuesday evening. "Today's practice was a very thorough, long, physical football practice."

After having Saturday's scrimmage canceled, the Ducks stuck to their previously scheduled practice calendar and were off Sunday. Monday also was a scheduled day off, but the team held a walk-through that night without the players who were in isolation, while continuing the daily testing regimen.

"It's that kind of year — you've got to adapt and move on," Cristobal said. "… It's kind of been the theme the entire country has had to have. You have to be adaptable. You have to be able to make adjustments."

Losing the chance to scrimmage Saturday was "pretty impactful," Cristobal conceded. But the coaching staff built scrimmage-like periods into practices through the rest of this week, beginning Tuesday morning.

With less than two weeks until the season opener, against Stanford in Autzen Stadium on Nov. 7, Cristobal believes the Ducks are still on track.

"I think our guys are going to be ready when the time is right," he said.

Practice highlights: Among the scrimmage scenarios conducted Tuesday was a red-zone drill. Jamal Hill had an interception to get the No. 1 defense off the field, and Bradyn Swinson recovered a fumble for the No. 2 defense. The first-string offense responded with a touchdown pass from Tyler Shough to Mycah Pittman, but the No. 2 defense scored another win when Jordan Happle intercepted a pass in the end zone that a receiver tipped but couldn't secure. … In earlier scrimmage periods, Daewood Davis had an interception, and Patrick Herbert did a great job looking back into the sun to secure a nice ball from Robby Ashford. …

In the first team period of the day, Justin Flowe wrapped up running backs at the line a couple of times for the No. 2 defense. Nate Heaukulani had a run stop and a pass broken up on consecutive plays, Travis Dye showed some finesse finding space in the secondary before catching a pass from Shough, and left tackle Jaylen Smith pancaked an outside linebacker. … Verone McKinley III was all over the place in the 11-on-11 drills. Early in one period, he sniffed out a short pass and hit the receiver as the ball arrived, and he denied a completion by breaking up a pass moments later. Then, in the same period, MJ Cunningham tipped a pass and McKinley dove to intercept it, just as it was about to hit the ground.

Other observations: Shough continues to take reps with the No. 1 offense, backed up by Anthony Brown. The rest of the quarterbacks rotate through with the third unit, with Jay Butterfield starting to look like he has an edge on the others. … Pittman had a really heady play in 1-on-1 drills. A pass was behind him, headed right into the arms of the defensive back trailing him, so Pittman reached back and slapped it away. … The receivers and defensive backs did a perimeter blocking and tackling drill early in practice. Pittman, Herbert and Johnny Johnson III had a really dominant rep for the offense, allowing a ballcarrier to scamper through their blocks untouched by the defenders.