Football Practice Report: Nov. 10
Venue: Outdoor practice fields
Format: Full pads
Two weeks ago, Ryan Walk was a non-scholarship offensive lineman who had spent the past three years toiling in obscurity primarily with the Ducks' developmental squad.
On the last day of October, Walk's work ethic and resiliency were awarded with a scholarship. During the opening game of the 2020 season, he made his first career start, at right guard for Oregon against Stanford.
And on the first day of the new week, Walk was named the Pac-12's offensive lineman of the week for his play in the Ducks' 35-14 win over the Cardinal.
"Of course it's an honor," Walk said Tuesday, after the Ducks returned to practice to prepare for this week's game at WSU on Saturday (4 p.m., FOX). "Lot of great players across the country. Really thankful to the coaches for getting me ready this week; the scout team, they gave us a great look; and the guys I play next to, they really make my job easy."
Walk made his starting debut in the same game as did one of his roommates, UO quarterback Tyler Shough. In another interview after practice Tuesday, Shough acknowledged there were times Walk was questioning his future, and wonder if he might be better off transferring.
"The big thing for him, he kept his nose down and kept working," Shough said. "He kept faith in the process, and I'm glad to see it paying out for him. He knows there's more work to be done, and we're not going to settle for one week."
Walk grew up attending Oregon games, and played for Sheldon High in Eugene. His teammate there, and later with the Ducks, was Justin Herbert – whom Walk heard from after Mario Cristobal surprised him and linebacker Nate Heaukulani with scholarships after practice on Halloween.
In the days leading up to last week's opener, Walk was in a heated six-player battle for the five starting positions along the offensive line against Stanford. He ended up winning the right to start, and played extensively at both guard positions.
Having grown up watching Oregon games from the stands in Autzen Stadium, Walk was now a starter, and a scholarship recipient.
"It wasn't exactly how I envisioned it as a kid; the stadium was a little bit empty," Walk said. "But other than that it was a lot of fun to be out there with the guys, and to get the win."
Practice highlights: Tyler Shough and his receivers were locked in during a "good-on-good" period against the No. 1 defense. Shough had completions to DJ Johnson, Mycah Pittman and Johnny Johnson III during one series; Steve Stephens IV came over to "thud up" Johnson pretty good at the end of that play, but Johnson held on. … Jamal Hill punched the ball out at the end of one reception, although it went out of bounds. …
Jordan Happle had a pick-six during a period against scouts. That's a good sign from a guy who may get the start at field safety Saturday while Verone McKinley III sits out following his targeting penalty last week. … Camden Lewis and Henry Katleman each hit a 50-yard field goal with the team trying to distract them. Lewis looks like his confidence remains good despite a miss against Stanford, on a re-kick following a penalty that negated a successful attempt.
Other observations: Happle is one of a couple defenders who could help fill in for McKinley. Bennett Williams is another option, although he's also the backup nickel defender. If Williams plays safety, another option at nickel behind Hill could be Dontae Manning, the true freshman cornerback. … Along with Manning, another true freshman who could be in line to make his debut sooner rather than later is running back Trey Benson. …
Kristian Williams continues to fill in as a backup defensive tackle while Popo Aumavae is sidelined, and continues to impress his coaches. Tuesday, Williams had a solid rep in a drill focused on attacking double-teams, a thankless task to say the least. "I know that sucks," defensive coordinator Andy Avalos told Williams after a rep, "but that's a hell of a fit."
Senior receiver Johnny Johnson III
Junior offensive lineman Ryan Walk
Sophomore quarterback Tyler Shough