Football Practice Report: Nov. 23
Venue: Outdoor practice fields
Format: Full pads
In the wake of the injury to Johnny Johnson III in Oregon's win over Washington State, the younger receivers on the UO depth chart were on alert.
"We definitely knew it was time to step up," freshman wideout Dont'e Thornton said. "We knew right there we were gonna get a lot of playing time."
Little did they know coming out of the WSU game just how much playing time they'd actually get. Because in the days after Johnson was injured, his fellow senior Jaylon Redd suffered an injury of his own in practice, and Mycah Pittman opted to leave the program.
If it wasn't clear already, Thornton and his classmates were going to be asked to do more. This past week at Utah, Thornton made the first start of his young career, and Kris Hutson caught a career-high four passes. Troy Franklin was in the regular rotation, and freshman Isaiah Brevard was on the travel squad.
This week, Franklin is being cross-trained at Oregon's 'Z' receiver position, after previously backing up Devon Williams at the 'X' position. And running back Seven McGee is getting practice reps at the 'H' slot receiver position.
The result of the game at Utah wasn't to Oregon's liking. But the play of those young receivers was a rare exception.
"In a game where you're looking for some bright spots, because there weren't a ton of them," UO offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead said, "… that's certainly something on which we'd like to build."
The chance to do so arrives this week, when the Ducks host Oregon State in Autzen Stadium on Saturday (12:30 p.m., ESPN). It will be senior day for Oregon, making the injuries to Johnson and Redd all the more heart-rending. But as always, it's "next man up" for the program as well.
"We always talk about, next man up, no drop-off," Thornton said. "We work hard every day so, even with those three receivers out, there's no drop-off."
Practice highlights: Thornton was putting that mantra into action Tuesday morning. He caught a couple of different balls in early drills on which he showed great concentration to haul in passes while running full-stride, and using his height to reach the ball where a defender couldn't. … Noah Sewell got his hands on a couple of turnovers throughout practice, and DJ James hauled in an interception on an overthrow. … During pass-rush drills, tackle Jayson Jones was really showing out for the defense.
Other observations: After rejoining practice last week, Sean Dollars had his most explosive run since returning during an early drill Tuesday. That was great to see. … The Ducks held practice on their outdoor fields, and got the full gamut of fall weather in Eugene. Practice began under overcast skies, a little drizzle fell for a few minutes a couple of times, and by morning's end bright sunlight was bathing the fields.
Senior quarterback Anthony Brown
Junior running back Travis Dye
Sophomore offensive lineman Dawson Jaramillo