Football Practice Report: March 10
Venue: Outdoor practice fields
New UO football coach Dan Lanning's favorite holiday, he said Thursday, is Christmas.
So what did that make Wednesday, as Lanning anticipated Thursday's start to spring practice for the Oregon football team?
"Last night," Lanning said, "was like Christmas Eve."
The Ducks held their first of 15 spring workouts Thursday, under the direction of their new coach and freshly crowned national champion, Lanning. Mother Nature seemed to acknowledge the hope and optimism that dawns each spring by providing brilliant, sunny conditions for Thursday's practice.
Lanning was hired in December and has devoted himself full-time to the Ducks since completing a national championship run as defensive coordinator at Georgia on Jan. 10. Exactly two months later he led Oregon onto the practice field Thursday, looking to build on the progress made in winter strength and conditioning sessions.
"I thought our guys played with a different speed and enthusiasm than we've seen so far, and obviously that's going to happen on day one," Lanning said. "Really the challenge for us is to see what we're going to do with the next day, and the day after that, and the day after that."
The Ducks have one more practice scheduled for this week, on Saturday, then will pause for spring break before resuming workouts on March 29. The biggest day on the spring calendar is April 23, when Oregon hosts its annual spring game in Autzen Stadium — a packed Autzen Stadium, the staff hopes.
By then the Ducks will have some spring enrollees on hand. This week the team is joined by three transfers who enrolled for the winter — defensive back Christian Gonzalez, quarterback Bo Nix and defensive tackle Sam Taimani — and one recently enrolled freshman recruit, outside linebacker Anthony Jones.
Spring drills are being conducted without much semblance of a depth chart, allowing those newcomers and the returners to get comfortable playing with a variety of different teammates.
"They're doing a great job of adapting and hopping right in," Lanning said of the new faces.
Oregon's practice format under Lanning is largely similar to years past, and the new coach bounced among different position groups overseeing their progress. He jumped on a microphone between periods, to shout out the next drill to be conducted.
"Overall it was a pretty clean day from an operations standpoint," he said.
Once practice was in the books, players and coaches would have the chance to watch the film and break down their progress. When players watch video, Lanning said, he knows the impulse will be to watch big plays they made. But he wants them focused as well on areas for potential progress.
"I challenged our players to go find something you did wrong," Lanning said, "and see if you can not do it wrong next time."
Notable: Among the newcomers, Gonzalez is wearing jersey No. 0, Jones is in No. 5, Nix is in No. 10 and Taimani wears No. 55. … Receiver Kris Hutson is now in No. 1, receiver Donte Thornton and outside linebacker DJ Johnson are in No. 2 on offense and defense, respectively, tight ends Terrance Ferguson moved to No. 3 and Spencer Webb moved to No. 4, receiver Isaah Crocker is now No. 6 and receiver Seven McGee is, fittingly, No. 7. Outside linebacker Mase Funa moved from No. 47 to No. 18. …
McGee remained at receiver to open spring, after moving there prior to last season's Alamo Bowl, and Jackson Powers-Johnson similarly remained with the defense Thursday after playing there last December. Jeffrey Bassa remains at linebacker after moving there from safety early last season. … Among players practicing at new positions Thursday were Adrian Jackson, at inside linebacker, and Jonathan Flowe, who moved from outside linebacker to defensive back. Jonah Miller joined Powers-Johnson in moving from the offensive line over to the D line.
Head coach Dan Lanning
On the excitement in the air Thursday
"I told our guys, I haven't been around a lot of bad first days, and I certainly still feel that way. There was great energy and enthusiasm, a lot of buy-in."
On gradually building up the amount of scheme being taught in practices this early in spring
"Today you want to see your guys go out there and play fast."