Football Practice Report: Dec. 9
Venue: Outdoor practice fields
Format: Full pads
The Oregon football team had yet to take the field for practice Wednesday morning when it was reported that the Ducks' opponent this week, Washington, was hitting pause due to coronavirus protocols.
While the Huskies awaited test results that would be delivered Thursday, and while fans waited to hear if the UO-UW game would be played as planned Saturday at 1 p.m., Mario Cristobal's program wasn't waiting on anything.
The Ducks, Cristobal said following Wednesday's practice, were "100 percent focused on playing Washington, our opponent this weekend. ... We go with what we know, and right now what we know is we're playing Washington on Saturday."
The UO coach addressed Washington's situation with his team prior to the start of practice. To the Ducks' credit, Cristobal said, players stepped up and made sure the news wasn't a distraction.
"We talked about it," sophomore safety Verone McKinley III said, "and then we moved on. We had the same practice we would have any Wednesday."
Part of Oregon's ability to get in the work despite Wednesday's news was cultural — Cristobal wants his players to be able to overcome any obstacle they might confront, whether that be an opponent on the field or a circumstance beyond their control.
And part of the Ducks' ability to focus Wednesday stemmed from the painful fact that they have lost two straight games entering this week.
"We have a lot to work on ourselves," sophomore Kayvon Thibodeaux said. "… Either we're going to kick off or we're not. Either way, we're going to keep preparing until they say otherwise."
Practice highlights: The defense was once again able to celebrate a couple wins in the weekly 2-minute drill. Tyler Shough got the No. 1 offense across midfield with a couple quick completions, but a touchdown was required to win the drill, and a fourth-down pass was incomplete to end the possession. … With the twos on the field, Nick Pickett and Keyon Ware-Hudson had sacks to keep the No. 2 offense from advancing beyond midfield. …
Shough was really sharp all morning. In a "good-on-good" period to open practice, he connected with Johnny Johnson III for a long touchdown pass. In a later period matching units of the travel squad against each other, Shough had a really high completion percentage, spreading it around to the likes of Johnson, Devon Williams, DJ Johnson and Hunter Kampmoyer. … Steve Stephens IV ripped the ball away from a receiver in 1-on-1 drills for an interception, and McKinley had two interceptions during 11-on-11 work, one of them coming in a red-zone drill.
Other observations: Inside linebacker Nick Wiebe got some playing time last week at Cal, and seems to have made a good impression. He's been getting some run with the No. 2 defense this week, at times next to Dru Mathis. … Depth has been an issue at safety in recent weeks, and Pickett has demonstrated his versatility the last couple days by practicing at both safety spots. He's primarily been a boundary safety in his career but can play to the field as well. ... The Ducks were blessed with two brilliant mornings for their practices Tuesday and Wednesday, but rain is expected beginning Thursday.
Head coach Mario Cristobal
Sophomore defensive lineman Kayvon Thibodeaux
Sophomore defensive back Verone McKinley III