Football Practice Report: Nov. 17
Venue: Moshofsky Center
Format: Full pads
Joe Moorhead hasn't been on Oregon's staff all that long, but it's been long enough to make clear what he considers the two biggest factors in wins and losses – explosive plays and turnovers.
Time and again, Moorhead cites those factors as keys to what he wants to see the Ducks get done. Through two games of the 2020 season, it's a mixed bag.
"We've hit our explosive play mark two out of two games," Moorhead said Monday, two days after Oregon's 43-29 win at WSU that moved the Ducks to 2-0 on the season.
"But obviously the turnovers are something I guess you'd refer to as a statistical outlier right now, that we're on the minus end of that. It's something we need to get resolved."
Through two games, entering Saturday's visit to Autzen Stadium by UCLA, the Ducks have lost five turnovers, and haven't forced any. Their per-game turnover margin of minus-2.5 is tied for last among the 125 FBS teams – tied with Akron, which is 0-2 on the season.
Explosive plays have helped overcome that margin. Oregon leads the nation in yards per play at 8.16, albeit in a smaller sample size than some other programs. The Ducks have seven plays of 30 yards or more, two more than anyone else in the Pac-12; Oregon's eight rushes of 20-plus yards are twice as many as anyone else.
Still, the UO offense wants to play a cleaner game beginning Saturday against the Bruins. That begins with quarterback Tyler Shough, who had a pass intercepted at WSU last week when it appeared the intended receiver might have been held by a defender.
"It's a split-second reaction; I didn't see he got held until after I threw it," Shough said. "If it's cloudy, then I've just gotta dirt it or throw it away in those situations. Just gotta be better at that – anticipating it and then reacting accordingly."
The maturity in that response is the same maturity Shough demonstrated in helping the Ducks fight back from their three first-half turnovers to rally and beat Washington State last week.
"I just like the way he overcame, and led the team," senior receiver Jaylon Redd said. "We did what we had to do, at the end of the day."
Practice highlights: The ability by receivers to high-point the football was on display throughout Tuesday's practice. Devon Williams, who is taking reps with the No. 1 offense while Mycah Pittman is unavailable, had an incredibly acrobatic catch in 1-on-1 drills. In a team period, Johnny Johnson III went up in traffic to snare a pass over the middle, and against the scout team Tevin Jeannis jumped high in the air to shield off a safety and bring in a reception. …
Verone McKinley III showed off his skills against both the run and the pass. In a "good-on-good" team period, he stuck on the hip of Johnson and slapped away a pass as it was arriving. Later, burly back Cyrus Habibi-Likio was rumbling up the field and McKinley came over the loudly thud him up. … Anthony Brown had good chemistry with Williams when both were with the No. 2 offense. With Williams up with the ones Tuesday, Brown built up a similarly good rapport with Isaah Crocker, completing two balls to him in another "good-on-good" period to close practice.
Other observations: Hat tip to walk-on tight end Cooper Shults, who has stepped up and helped the Ducks operate the last two weeks in sets involving two tight ends. With that said, it was also a welcome sight Tuesday to have Hunter Kampmoyer back complementing breakout star DJ Johnson in some of those sets. … With Nick Pickett sidelined for the first half against UCLA due to his ejection for targeting at WSU, transfer Jordan Happle looks like a candidate to replace him as the boundary safety. Happle started at WSU as the field safety in place of McKinley, who was himself serving a suspension for a targeting ejection.
Sophomore quarterback Tyler Shough
Senior receiver Jaylon Redd
Senior offensive lineman George Moore