Football Practice Report: Nov. 11
Venue: Outdoor practice fields
Format: Full pads
Things are going to look much different for the Oregon secondary this week.
For one thing, the Ducks are moving on from the pro-style attack of Stanford to Washington State, where the UO football team will play Saturday (4 p.m., FOX). And the Cougars look different this year, having transitioned from the Air Raid offense coached by Mike Leach to new coach Nick Rolovich and his run-and-shoot look.
The Ducks themselves will look different, too, at least in the first half. Starting field safety Verone McKinley III was ejected in the second half of last week's win over Stanford, and thus won't be available for the first half in Pullman on Saturday.
Transfers Jordan Happle and Bennett Williams are in line to spell McKinley in the first half this week.
"They've been doing a good job," senior boundary safety Nick Pickett said. "It's not a drop-off. Communication is a big thing for us, and they've been doing a good job with that."
Unlike the Air Raid, the run-and-shoot isn't almost solely a passing scheme. The Cougars beat Oregon State in their opening game with 33 pass attempts and 30 rushes.
"They're running the ball, mixing it up a little more," Pickett said. "We're gonna have to mix up our goals."
Among the looks Oregon could throw at WSU's offense is a dime package utilized extensively on passing downs against Stanford. The scheme employed six defensive backs, with nickel Jamal Hill and dime safety Steve Stephens IV taking the field. Up front, Andrew Faoliu and Adrian Jackson played the edge positions.
"I find it a lot of fun," Pickett said of the package. "… We can mix it up and do different things out of it. It just expands our defense."
Of course, defending the Cougars will require more than just a stout secondary. The front seven is looking to get in on the fun as well, after going without a sack against Stanford last week.
"Stanford, it makes it hard for a D line to pass rush and get to the quarterback when he's releasing it that quick," senior defensive lineman Austin Faoliu said. "We've just got to stick to the game plan and stay confident."
Practice highlights: As usual on Wednesday, practice ended with a 2-minute drill. The No. 1 defense was really getting after it, and quickly had the offense facing fourth down near midfield. Tyler Shough got the offense going with a pass to Johnny Johnson III, and a couple receptions by Josh Delgado got the ball into the red zone. But with time for just one more play, Kayvon Thibodeaux and the defensive front collapsed the pocket, and Shough was touched up to end the drill. ...
The No. 2 offense was able to win its 2-minute drill. Travis Dye had an explosive play to get the ball near the red zone, and two plays later Anthony Brown found Devon Williams in the end zone for a "game-winning" touchdown. … In 1-on-1 pass drills, both Dontae Manning and JJ Greenfield ripped the ball out to avoid giving up receptions, and Trikweze Bridges had a diving pass breakup in the end zone. Bryan Addison won a rep for the offense with a really athletic play, leaping in the air for a ball thrown behind him and shielding off the defender to make the catch.
Other observations: Williams has had two really good practices in a row. He broke the ice with his first reception as a Duck last week, and hopefully that fuels his confidence going forward – because if he's playing with confidence, he's a serious weapon. … Mario Cristobal said after practice the tight end depth chart this week could look similar to last week. So, another big opportunity for DJ Johnson and Cooper Shults. … The Pacific Northwest is supposed to get hit this weekend with the first major storm system of the winter, but there was no indication of that during practice Wednesday, a glorious morning in Eugene.