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Football Practice Report: April 3

Apr 3, 2021

Venue: Outdoor practice fields
Format: Helmets

Tim DeRuyter isn't trying to reinvent the wheel in his first year as Oregon's defensive coordinator. But some of the parts may look a little different, and have different names.

DeRuyter participated in his second spring practice Saturday as the new head of the UO defense. Come fall, it sounds like the Ducks will mix a bit of the old with a bit of the new when it comes to their system in the transition from former D coordinator Andy Avalos to DeRuyter.

"A lot of things that Coach Avalos' defense and what we're going to do this fall are very, very similar," DeRuyter said Saturday afternoon. "Some of those things, I wanted to keep the terminology so guys had familiarity with it.

"But we do some things differently. So obviously those terms are going to change."

The transition to new leadership has been made easier for the Ducks thanks to some veterans at key positions. DeRuyter said edge players Kayvon Thibodeaux and Mase Funa have helped set the tone through two practices this spring, as have the deep group of inside linebackers. On the back end, safety Verone McKinley III has established himself as a vocal leader.

In the trenches, Popo Aumavae and Brandon Dorlus have been early standouts. But DeRuyter is looking forward to making a deeper assessment of the line as the Ducks get into next week.

"Seeing those guys develop and play with physicality next week when pads come on, that will be important for us to gauge," he said.

Installing a defense that prides itself on creating turnovers and stopping the run also falls to DeRuyter's assistants, and he has a familiar face on hand in a co-worker last season at California, new UO defensive backs coach Marcel Yates.

DeRuyter said he's also benefiting from the culture at Oregon under head coach Mario Cristobal.

"Our guys know how to practice," DeRuyter said. "Coach Cristobal has established a program here and a standard of how we have to do things, with a sense of urgency and physicality."

Sometimes in a coach's career, DeRuyter said, he might get to a new job and not find that to be the case. Oregon is an exception.

"That's been really important," he said, "to get this thing to where we want to go."

Practice highlights: If creating turnovers is DeRuyter's No. 1 priority, he must have been pleased Saturday. In a 7-on-7 period, a pass was bobbled by a receiver, and linebacker Noah Sewell made a diving interception. … Later in 11-on-11, there was a bad exchange in the offensive backfield and defensive lineman Maceal Afaese jumped on the ball for a fumble recovery. … Safety Jeffrey Bassa nearly had another interception in team, anticipating a route and leaping to get into the path of the pass to break it up. …

In 1-on-1 drills, DJ James showed some great anticipation to break up a pass to Johnny Johnson III. … Jack Vecchi might have had the best play for the offense in that period, getting vertical and then reaching behind a defender to haul in the pass. … In special teams drills, Tom Snee had a booming punt on the first rep of that period, a nice job of being ready for his moment. In a field goal period, freshman defensive lineman Keanu Williams got his hand on a kick.

Other observations: DeRuyter mentioned in his post-practice interview that Bryan Addison, who moved from receiver to cornerback last fall, is practicing at safety this spring. … Offensive line coach Alex Mirabal also clarified some organizational chart information. Freshman Kingsley Suamataia is playing left tackle with the twos, behind George Moore. Jonah Miller also is starting out at left tackle, Bram Walden is the No. 3 right tackle and Jackson Light is the No. 3 center behind Alex Forsyth and Jonathan Denis. ... Because Oregon baseball played later in the day, as was the case Thursday, two-sport QB Robby Ashford participated in the final hour of football practice before heading to PK Park.