Football Practice Report: Nov. 30
Venue: Moshofsky Center
Format: Full pads
Preparing a defensive game plan involves striking a balance.
On one hand, coaches want their players ready for whatever the opposing offense might run. On the other hand, those same coaches want those same players executing with speed and aggression. Diagnose what you see, then cut it loose.
At Utah two weeks ago, UO defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter didn't strike the right balance, he now believes. He hopes to rectify that when the Ducks and Utes meet again Friday, in the Pac-12 Championship game at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.
In round one, Utah averaged 5.68 yards per play. The Utes converted 11-of-14 chances on third down. They were a perfect 5-for-5 in the red zone. And in hindsight, DeRuyter thinks he knows one reason all of that happened against Oregon's defense.
"We had our guys thinking too much," DeRuyter said Tuesday, following Oregon's final practice of this week in full pads.
DeRuyter and his staff don't want to be too hard on themselves; Utah presents a bunch of different looks offensively, and the Ducks needed to be ready for any of them. But the hope is, a more stream-lined game plan will allow the UO defense to cut it loose and play faster Friday.
Against Oregon State last week, the Ducks took a positive step. They rebounded from the loss to Utah by holding what was then the Pac-12's best rushing offense to just 85 yards on the ground.
"I think we gave them a better plan than we had the week before," DeRuyter said. "And our guys responded."
The Ducks don't want to alter everything from the first meeting with Utah. Nose tackle Popo Aumavae, for one, was strong that night, piling up a career-high eight tackles. He and fellow interior lineman Brandon Dorlus have been stout all year, and will need to be again Friday.
And some recent personnel tweaks could be helpful too. Now that inside linebacker Jackson LaDuke is back in the mix full-time — he made only a brief appearance in his season debut at Utah — DeRuyter can employ looks like the front that started against Oregon State, which featured three inside linebackers on the field together.
Better depth and a better plan led to better play by the UO defense against OSU, compared to the week before at Utah.
"I liked our progress against the run last week," DeRuyter said. "And we've gotta take another step this week to have a chance."
Practice highlights: The weekly 2-minute drill was one for the offense — Anthony Brown scored to win the scenario for the ones, and Ty Thompson connected with Isaah Crocker on a "game-winning" touchdown with the twos. … Noah Sewell had an interception in a period against scouts, and Trikweze Bridges followed by swooping down from his safety spot and blowing up a run play with a really physical hit. … Jackson Powers-Johnson and Jayson Jones had some really good back-and-forth in their reps during pass-rush drills. … Kickers Camden Lewis and Henry Katleman were perfect in placekicking drills.
Other notes: The Ducks usually are in full pads on Tuesday and Wednesday of a game week. Due to this week's game falling on Friday, they moved the schedule up a day, but didn't go in full pads Monday because of the quick turnaround following Saturday's win over Oregon State. But they were indeed in full pads Tuesday. … Offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead said he's aware of reports linking him to other jobs, noting that "certainly it's the time of year the (coaching) carousel is spinning." That said, he added, "all my focus and attention is on doing the things that are necessary to prepare the offense to play well."
Offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead
Defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter
Senior quarterback Anthony Brown
Junior defensive tackle Popo Aumavae
Sophomore safety Verone McKinley III
Freshman all-purpose back Seven McGee