Football Practice Report: Dec. 2
Venue: Moshofsky Center
Format: Full pads
Members of Oregon's defense know what to expect going forward after the last two weeks.
First UCLA had 267 rushing yards in Autzen Stadium two weeks ago. Then, Oregon State ran for 269 yards in an upset of the Ducks last week.
"A lot of teams probably saw that," UO senior defensive lineman Austin Faoliu said, "and now they're game-planning."
This week, that would be California, which is set to host Oregon on Saturday (4 p.m., ESPN). The Golden Bears are 10th in the Pac-12 at 139.7 rushing yards per game, but their total has increased every week — from 54 yards at UCLA to open the season, to 124 at Oregon State, to 241 last week against Stanford.
"You can see looking at their numbers and the film, they've improved every single week," UO safety Jordan Happle said.
Earlier in the season, tackling was an issue for the Ducks. They aggressively worked to address it in practice, with added emphasis in position drills.
At Oregon State last week, though, open running lanes seemed to be a bigger problem than tackling. Oregon's defenders want to work harder going forward to free themselves up and fill those lanes.
"Just getting off blocks so we can make plays in the backfield is the main thing," Faoliu said.
It's one thing to identify an issue, and another to going about fixing it. That doesn't happen with the snap of the fingers, but only through hard work in practice.
"Tuesday, Wednesday, those are our work days," Faoliu said, citing the two days each week the Ducks practice in full pads. "Going play by play, what can I fix, the small details. Just taking it day by day and play by play."
Practice highlights: Faoliu and the defense had a pair of small victories to celebrate Wednesday, from Oregon's weekly 2-minute drill. The defense won both scenarios, beginning with the first-team units on the field. Jaylon Redd got the offense past midfield with an explosion play, but the defense was able to get off the field without allowing a score. With the twos on the field, Anthony Brown had a clutch completion to Kris Hutson on a fourth-down play, but on the next rep Brown took a shot down field and safety JJ Greenfield came soaring in over the top of the intended receiver and a cornerback to make an interception. …
Tyler Shough had more success in a "good-on-good" period earlier in practice. He opened the drill with a long touchdown catch-and-run by Johnny Johnson III, and later added passes for significant chunks of yardage to Sean Dollars and DJ Johnson. … Greenfield and Mykael Wright had interceptions in a service period early in practice, and Steve Stephens IV had two picks on the day, one in 1-on-1 drills and another in 7-on-7. … One of the best balls of the day was by the scout-team offense, a long throw that Bradley Yaffe put right on the money to Korbin Williams. Nick Wiebe was a bright spot defensively, with a tackle for loss and an interception in the span of about three reps during 11-on-11.
Other observations: Stephens has been really pushing since returning to practice last week, and looks like a candidate for significant playing time at safety this week. … Henry Katleman got the first rep in Wednesday's placekicking period, after winning that job last week for the OSU game. Both Katleman and Camden Lewis went 3-for-3 in the period. … Mario Cristobal said the Ducks are "hoping for some good news" on a few injured players who might be cleared to play against Cal, but he didn't offer specifics with two more days left to evaluate their status.