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Football Practice Report: Aug. 24

Aug 24, 2021

Venue: Outdoor practice fields
Format: Full pads

The transition between preseason camp and preparations specific to first-week opponent Fresno State is underway for the Oregon football team.

The Ducks were in pads Tuesday, for the first time since the final scrimmage of camp this past Saturday. When the team is back in action Wednesday, the practice script will include time devoted specifically to the Bulldogs, who visit Autzen Stadium on Sept. 4 (11 a.m., Pac-12 Network).

And come Thursday, head coach Mario Cristobal said, it will be "full-throttle" for the Ducks in the direction of the season opener.

Prior to the start of preseason, Cristobal said he was anticipating the most competitive camp of his UO tenure. As of Tuesday, his mind was clearly still in camp phase, before turning his full attention to the opener. Because Cristobal wasn't yet ready to cast judgment on the quality of camp as a whole.

"We're not done yet," he said. "We've gotta finish it."

Senior offensive lineman George Moore and sophomore outside linebacker Mase Funa

Tuesday's practice featured extensive 11-on-11 work, with periods devoted to playing with tempo, executing on third down and winning a 2-minute drill. Cristobal said coaches have an idea at this point about what the two-deep looks like at some positions, but that competition continues at others.

"Multiple guys got reps with the first and second team," he said following practice Tuesday. "Competition continues to be a big factor in helping us get better."

In the coming days, coaches will sit down with players to clarify their standing on the depth chart, prior to its public release. Some position battles remain close – one at cornerback between Trikweze Bridges and Dontae Manning appears to be particularly so, for example – and could linger into next week.

Senior quarterback Anthony Brown

To this point, the Ducks seem to be on track to put together the kind of intensely competitive preseason camp Cristobal was seeking. The finish line is in sight.

"We'll get there," the UO head coach said. "But we've got to keep pushing."

Practice highlights: Speaking of intensely competitive, the last offense-defense period of Tuesday's practice was the 2-minute drill. Anthony Brown completed passes to Spencer Webb, CJ Verdell and then a leaping Johnny Johnson III to get the ball into the high red zone. That set up a field-goal attempt of 46 yards for Henry Katleman, who made it – only to have to set up for another kick when it turned out Cristobal had called timeout just before the snap. The defense pinned its ears back again, and Manning got through to tip the kick at the line. …

Senior wide receiver Johnny Johnson III

Dont'e Thornton made a couple nice plays for the twos to get them across midfield in the 2-minute drill, but later in the drill Adrian Jackson forced a fumble that Darren Barkins jumped on for a turnover. The No. 3 offense ultimately did put points on the board, when Jack Vecchi used a great block from fellow receiver Isaiah Brevard to score a touchdown. … Verdell put on a show in the tempo period, running through a defensive back on one rep and then juking another defender on the next rep to avoid a tackle at the line. … Dru Mathis had an interception in that period, on a tipped ball. …

During the first 11-on-11 period, Bennett Williams came downhill against a run play to stop a back at the line, and Micah Roth also exploded to the ball for a tackle near the line of scrimmage. … In a period of third-down reps, Brown moved the chains with completions to Johnson and Mycah Pittman, but Williams denied another potential first down by stopping a ballcarrier just short of the sticks. … Avante Dickerson broke up a pass with the twos in that drill.

Sophomore placekicker Henry Katleman

Other observations: You know how you don't talk about a no-hitter when it's in progress? Early in practice a coach noted aloud that the quarterbacks and receivers had a perfect completion percentage late in one drill. Sure enough, the next rep was an incompletion. … Oregon's young receivers have a lot of maturity to their game. Not only did Brevard have a great block in the 2-minute drill, Thornton showed outstanding awareness on one of his big plays by making a catch, eluding a tackle and then getting to the sideline to stop the clock in the drill. … When the UO Police officer on hand outside practice is the handler for Onyx the police dog, he tends to have a lot of company as the team leaves the practice fields. The coaches and players who stop to say hello can vary, but it seems like Joe Moorhead, Bradyn Swinson and Kris Hutson always make a point of doing so.

Receivers Devon Williams and Kris Hutson with UO Police dog Onyx after practice

Post-practice interviews:

Head coach Mario Cristobal