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Football Practice Report: Nov. 17

Nov 17, 2021

Venue: Moshofsky Center
Format: Full pads

In the heat of a game, Oregon center Alex Forsyth enjoys as much as anyone else seeing UO quarterback Anthony Brown square up defenders while running with the ball.

Come Sunday, though, given time and space to reflect, Forsyth has a different message for his QB.

"You gotta start sliding, dude," Forsyth recounted with a laugh after Oregon's practice Wednesday. "It's scary. I kind of hold my breath every time I see it."

In that case, Forsyth has been holding his breath quite a bit the last couple weeks. Brown's running ability has been a featured element of Oregon's offense in November, entering the No. 3 Ducks' game at Utah on Saturday (4:44 p.m. PT, ABC).

Against Washington State last week, Brown had a career day running the ball with 17 carries for 123 yards and a touchdown. Combined with Oregon's win at Washington the week before, Brown has 186 rushing yards the past two weeks, one-third of his total for the season through 10 games.

All told in 2021, Brown has 551 rushing yards with eight touchdowns. His total rushing yardage ranks 11th in the Pac-12, and his average per carry — 5.06 — is better than two of the 10 players above him on that list.

"It's one more person to worry about," Brown said. "… Being a part of the run game and affecting the defense as much as I can is good for us."

Brown's two-game stretch attacking defenses with his legs followed a three-game span against Cal, UCLA and Colorado in which he completed 74-of-98 passes for 847 yards and four touchdowns, with two interceptions. Whatever the defense has given him in five games since Oregon's loss at Stanford, he's been able to take.

All that throwing in October gave little hint of all the running Brown has done since. He didn't necessarily plan to be a focal point in the run game, he said, but he's handling it despite the toll it might take on him physically.

"We work out a lot, so I prepare my body for this," Brown said. "It doesn't really affect me much."

As to Forsyth's preference that he slide, Brown said he worries about taking a shot to the head from a defender while in a defenseless position. Instead he prefers to try and run around or through a would-be tackler.

"I wish he would slide more," Forsyth said, "but he loves the physicality — and I love that part. … You've gotta be willing to put your body on the line for your brother next to you. He knows we'll do anything for him, and I know he'll do anything for us."

Practice highlights: Each side of the ball could celebrate a win Wednesday in Oregon's weekly 2-minute drill. The No. 1 defense got off the field without allowing a score thanks in part to a sack by Kayvon Thibodeaux, while the No. 2 offense won its rep thanks to a beautifully thrown touchdown pass from Ty Thompson to Troy Franklin. … Defensive lineman Brandon Dorlus was dominant in the first 11-on-11 period of the day, making three tackles in a span of four reps at one point. … Tips and overthrows: Adrian Jackson and DJ James had interceptions in exactly those situations Wednesday.

Other observations: Wide receiver Mycah Pittman has left the program. "We wish him the best," UO coach Mario Cristobal said, "and we don't judge." … Linebacker Jackson LaDuke continues to ramp it up as he looks to make his season debut following an injury. Cristobal said LaDuke "looks great" in practice and is in line to be a contributor. … Tight end DJ Johnson and receiver Johnny Johnson III are getting "healthier" after dealing with injures that sidelined them last week, Cristobal said.

Post-practice interviews:

Head coach Mario Cristobal

Junior offensive lineman Alex Forsyth

Junior running back Travis Dye

Sophomore offensive lineman Steven Jones