Football Practice Report: Sept. 7
Venue: Outdoor practice fields
Format: Full pads
For all the trouble Fresno State gave Oregon last week in the Ducks' season-opening victory, the UO defense could come away pleased with its ability to limit big plays by the Bulldogs.
Fresno State had three plays of 20 yards or more, and only three Pac-12 teams allowed fewer through last weekend. The Ducks also experienced how painful explosive plays can be – both of Fresno State's big plays of 30 yards or more contributed to scoring drives.
This week the challenge of limiting big plays becomes even tougher for Oregon's defense. The Ducks go on the road to play Saturday at Ohio State (9 a.m., FOX), which had scoring plays of 71, 38, 56, 70 and 61 yards on offense last week in a win over Minnesota.
"As a defense, wherever you are or whoever's on the field with you, your goal is always to eliminate explosives," UO safety Jordan Happle said Tuesday after the Ducks' first of two padded practices this week. "If you can make an offense work up the field and put together long drives, I don't think a lot of offenses want to do that. So that's always our goal – eliminate as many explosives as possible, and make them work for their yards."
First and foremost, Happle said, the Ducks will look to stop the run. That will make passing situations easier to predict – or at least somewhat so.
But UO defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter said Ohio State's efficiency with the use of play action keeps a defense on its toes. Selling out to completely stop the run could come with a price.
"You've got to keep adding more guys, and that's where they get you with explosive plays," DeRuyter said. "It presents a huge challenge, and our guys are going to have to be on point this week."
For a defense, "eye discipline" is the tactic of relying on pre-determined keys to predict a run play or a pass play, rather than falling into a trap the offense might lay. And for the Ducks, eye discipline will be crucial on Saturday.
"We don't have to put on a Superman suit for this game," safety Bennett Williams said. "We just have to play our game and do what we're supposed to do. If all 11 guys are doing their job … we should be all right."
Practice highlights: Oregon's defensive backs looked like they were gearing up for the challenge Ohio State will present in Tuesday's practice. Verone McKinley III broke up a deep ball and then had an interception within moments of each other in one 11-on-11 period. … Later, safety Bryan Addison added an interception. … In pass-rush drills, coaches were very pleased with the reps true freshman Brandon Buckner took.
Other observations: Crowd noise played over several different practice periods, as the Ducks prepared to play before potentially over 100,000 fans on Saturday. … Jeffrey Bassa has changed his number to 33. Bassa previously shared No. 20 with receiver Tevin Jeannis, but both are in the mix for Oregon's kickoff coverage team. … In another number change that eliminates a conflict on special teams, outside linebacker Terrell Tilmon is now No. 34 after previously sharing No. 14 with receiver Kris Hutson.
Other post-practice interviews:
Junior safety Bennett Williams
Sophomore defensive lineman Brandon Dorlus