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Football Practice Report: Oct. 12

Oct 12, 2021

Venue: Outdoor practice fields
Format: Full pads

The Oregon football team is three days away from having the chance to soothe the sting of defeat.

For a program dealing with an avalanche of injuries, the Ducks welcomed last week's bye on the schedule. But that meant extra time between their loss at Stanford and their next game, against California in Autzen Stadium on Friday (7:35 p.m., ESPN).

The game at Stanford ended in a flurry of breakdowns by Oregon, on both sides of the ball. On Tuesday, UO coach Mario Cristobal was asked how the Ducks' defensive backs have bounced back from allowing touchdown passes on the final play of regulation and in overtime to the Cardinal; his answer could apply to the entire team as well.

"It's all about how you play that next play," Cristobal said. "They know it — and more importantly, they've shown it in practice."

Oregon's resiliency has continued to be tested since the loss. Offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead's status for Friday night's game remains unknown after he wasn't on the sidelines at Stanford. And the Ducks will play the first half against California without defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, after his ejection for targeting on Stanford's final possession of regulation.

But there will be some welcome returns to celebrate Friday night as well. Cornerback Trikweze Bridges will be available after his own ejection for targeting on the opening kickoff at Stanford; the Ducks surely could have used his height and length at corner on the jump balls Stanford repeatedly threw into the end zone late in the game.

And edge defender Bradyn Swinson looks ready to return after missing the last three games. Swinson had sacks in each of the Ducks' first two games, against Fresno State and Ohio State, and he'll be a sight for sore eyes at a position where Thibodeaux, Mase Funa and Adrian Jackson all have missed time due to injury this season.

"We'll see how he does," Cristobal said of Swinson. "But he's ready for a heavy rep load, if need be."

Even in his absence, Swinson demonstrated the type of resiliency Cristobal has wanted to see up-and-down his roster since the Stanford game. While rehabbing the last few weeks, Swinson was pushing hard to make a case for returning as soon as possible.

"You had to hold him back; that's really appreciated," Cristobal said.

Oregon's head coach is eager to see much more of that fighting spirit come Friday against California.

Practice highlights: The offense on Tuesday won both reps of the weekly 2-minute drill, a scenario the defense has generally won for much of this season. Quarterback Anthony Brown completed four of his first five attempts with the No. 1 units on the field, helping set up a "game-winning" field goal of 41 yards. Camden Lewis drilled that kick, despite being iced with a timeout by Cristobal. … The No. 2 offense also only needed a field goal to win, but went ahead and scored a touchdown. Jay Butterfield, part of the young rotation at QB with that unit, completed a long pass to Devon Williams to get the ball into the red zone, then hit Spencer Webb for the touchdown. …

Swinson had an interception in 7-on-7, and Noah Sewell nearly had one in that period but couldn't secure it. Sewell made up for that in a later team period against scouts, picking off a ball. … In that same period of work against scouts, receiver Spencer Curtis held on to a reception despite getting blasted by Verone McKinley III, and Mycah Pittman hauled in a deep ball from Brown. …

Brown had a beautiful touch pass for a touchdown to Williams in a 1-on-1 drill conducted in the red zone, and Webb made a one-handed TD catch in that drill. Bridges and Jordan Happle had pass breakups in the end zone. … Steven Jones and Brandon Dorlus had a couple of really spirited head-to-head reps in pass-rush drills. Jones probably won the first, and then Dorlus evened the score.

Other observations: After practicing inside the Moshofsky Center on Monday, the Ducks were outside on a crisp fall morning in Eugene on Tuesday. That should prepare them for cool, dry conditions projected for Friday evening. … Due to the Friday game, the practice schedule was moved up a day, so the Ducks will hold their walk-through Wednesday before their "Fast Friday" practice Thursday. … Long snapper Luke Basso showed some versatility Tuesday by helping provide some depth at tight end for the scout-team offense, even catching a pass against the defense.

Post-practice interviews:

Sophomore safety Verone McKinley III

Sophomore safety Steve Stephens IV

Sophomore defensive lineman Brandon Dorlus

Freshman linebacker Keith Brown