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Football Practice Report: Aug. 10

Aug 10, 2021

Venue: Oudoor practice fields
Format: Shells

Oregon's defense has been learning under new coordinator Tim DeRuyter this offseason, and the UO offense is digesting a more robust version of coordinator Joe Moorhead's playbook after an abbreviated 2020 season. So perhaps it made sense that the first couple practices of this preseason camp weren't marked by an overwhelming number of big plays.

As of Tuesday, though, that started to change. It was the Ducks' second practice of this preseason in shells, and both sides of the ball seemed to play a step faster physically and mentally. And the big plays followed.

Runs by CJ Verdell and Travis Dye were longer. There with explosion plays through the air, from Anthony Brown to Mycah Pittman in 7-on-7, and Jay Butterfield to Byron Cardwell in 11-on-11. Verone McKinley III had yet another interception. And seemingly every time a run play ended with a loud thud at the line of scrimmage, it was linebacker Justin Flowe making the play.

"Good practice – physical; really, really physical," UO coach Mario Cristobal said afterward. "Guys are doing a good job sustaining and upholding the standards by which we practice."

Sophomore outside linebacker Adrian Jackson

Tuesday's practice came on the day Oregon was revealed to be the No. 12 team in the preseason coaches' poll. If that lofty projection went to the Ducks' heads at all, it sure didn't look like it once practice began.

"The entire focus is on our process, that 1-0 mentality," Cristobal said. "It's that next meeting, it's that next walk-through, it's that next rep."

Typically, the Ducks could have been in full pads as early as Tuesday. Under new NCAA acclimation rules for preseason camp, however, the first day of full pads will be Thursday.

So while the Ducks seemed to turn a corner in this preseason camp Tuesday, there are more obstacles to overcame as the physical intensity continues to ramp up.

"When football soreness sets in, you want to see guys fight through," Cristobal said. "You want to see guys with the mentality to go out there and practice just as hard."

Other highlights: One of Flowe's big run stops came in an 11-on-11 period, and on the very next rep cornerback Jaylin Davies hit a receiver just after the ball arrived and popped it loose. … With the threes up in that drill, Jabril McNeil came off the edge for a tackle for loss. … In the 7-on-7 period, Brown found Seven McGee matched up with a linebacker and hit him for a touchdown, with Johnny Johnson III throwing a downfield block to ensure it was a scoring play. Ty Thompson beautifully led Korbin Williams for another touchdown, throwing a pass just over the defender and hitting Williams in stride. …

For the second day in a row, freshmen Jackson Powers-Johnson and Logan Sagapolu stood out in 1-on-1 pass-rush drills. … The Ducks did red-zone drills for the first time this preseason. One of the best reps of the day was by Johnson, who made a catch in the end zone despite outstanding coverage from Mykael Wright. Later in practice during another red-zone scenario, linebacker Micah Roth recorded a tackle for loss with the threes, and on the next rep Louie Cresto jumped on a loose ball after a muffed exchange. … In a period of third-down plays, each of Oregon's top three nickels had a pass breakup – Bennett Williams, Jeffrey Bassa and Marko Vidackovic.

Freshman outside linebacker Jabril McNeil.

Other observations: The kickoff return team got its first reps of this preseason Tuesday. Wright and Johnson were back deep together with the first unit, Kris Hutson joined Bassa back deep with the twos, and McGee and Cardwell were paired together with the threes. … Cornerback Dontae Manning was a blocker with the No. 2 return unit. With the ones on the field, his position coach, Rod Chance, presented him with a pop quiz, asking Manning the call that was made for the ones, and what his responsibility would be were he on the field. The freshman nailed it. … Freshman nose Jayson Jones got a handful of reps in with the No. 1 defense, and Trikweze Bridges continued to share time with Manning at corner.

Post-practice interviews:

Sophomore defensive back Verone McKinley III

Junior safety Bennett Williams

Sophomore defensive lineman Brandon Dorlus

Redshirt freshman cornerback Trikweze Bridges

Freshman linebacker Justin Flowe