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Football Practice Report: Aug. 31

Aug 31, 2021

Venue: Outdoor practice fields
Format: Full pads

From the time Oregon first hit the practice field in 2021, back in the spring, Anthony Brown was atop the rotation at quarterback. He remained there for the beginning of preseason practice in August.

So it's not a huge surprise for the Ducks that Brown will be the starter when they take the field for their season opener against Fresno State on Saturday (11 a.m., Pac-12 Network). But it's not just that Brown began the offseason as the No. 1 quarterback, it's that he validated it most every day.

"We all knew he was going to be the guy," senior receiver Johnny Johnson III said. "He obviously proved it throughout camp; it wasn't handed to him. He had to go out there and perform every day. He earned it, for sure."

The Ducks held their first practice of game week Tuesday, and there was Brown, fulfilling his duties as the starting quarterback for drills. And there he was after practice, when members of the offense met with media, fulfilling another standard duty of any starting quarterback – doubling as team spokesman.

"Shoot, I'm excited," Brown said when asked about Saturday's opener in Autzen Stadium. "I've been watching Oregon since I was young. So I'm excited to get out there in front of the fans and do something well."

What does Brown do well? Just about everything, Johnson said.

"He has a great pocket presence," Johnson said. "He can put the ball on the line; he can throw it deep. He makes good decisions. He knows how to find people, how to find the checkdowns when he's getting pressured, things like that. He's a smart player overall, he has experience and he's ready to go."

Perhaps in a nod to Brown's anticipated status with this year's Oregon team, he was issued the locker next to the Ducks' returning starter at center, Alex Forsyth. They've developed a bond that should pay dividends throughout the fall, texting each other about things they've picked up watching film, or even agreeing to meet in person for film sessions.

Oregon's offense line talks about being "five as one" on the field, Forsyth said, but that number could be expanded.

"It's really six or seven as one," he said. "When you're talking about protections, you've got to have the quarterback and running back on the same page as well. So that's huge for us, building that chemistry."

Brown began his career at Boston College, and was the starter for most of three seasons despite two major knee injuries. After spending last year as Oregon's backup, he's now preparing to lead the Ducks onto the field Saturday.

"It's cool to finally get back out there and be able to start again," he said. "But, still got work to do."

Practice highlights: The last practice period was a "good-on-good" situation, and Brown quickly moved the ball downfield with completions to Jaylon Redd, Kris Hutson and CJ Verdell. … A previous "good-on-good" period saw him start hot as well, with completions to Troy Franklin and Redd. But Mykael Wright didn't let the offense make it three in a row that time, slapping away another attempted reception by Franklin. … Dontae Manning also prevented a Brown-to-Franklin connection, earlier in practice, ripping the ball out as Franklin looked to secure it. …

Kristian Williams recorded a tackle for loss in a team period, getting to Trey Benson in the backfield. … Bryan Addison intercepted a tipped pass when the No. 2 defense was facing the No. 3 offense, and later Verone McKinley III had an interception in the end zone against the scout team. … In a period of field-goal kicking, Henry Katleman was 4-of-4 and Camden Lewis drilled a kick from 50 yards out.

Other observations: During preseason camp, the offense practiced in white uniforms with the defense in green. Since the Ducks are the home team Saturday and quarterbacks will be throwing to teammates in dark jerseys, the units have swapped for the week of practice, with the offense in green and defense in white. … The practice pace was relentless. After a month of daily schedules that included slowed-down "teach" periods for on-the-field instruction, during game week it's all about reps, reps and more reps.

Post-practice interviews:

Senior receiver Johnny Johnson III

Junior running back CJ Verdell

Junior offensive lineman Alex Forsyth