Camp Continues With Second Scrimmage
Family members of several dozen UO football players watched the Ducks scrimmage inside Autzen Stadium on Saturday, and afterward attended a barbecue outside the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex.
What they witnessed from their seats on the south side of Autzen — big plays on both sides of the ball, and also special teams — made for an entertaining afternoon matinee.
"We got better today, absolutely we got better," UO head coach Dan Lanning said following the scrimmage, Oregon's second of this preseason. "There's a lot to clean up. But today was a good day of practice."
Taken as a whole, Saturday's scrimmage unfolded as a mirror image of the first preseason scrimmage seven days earlier. A week after the offense started strong and the defense finished with some big plays, it was the defense forcing some early turnovers Saturday, and the offense working to even things out late in practice.
As the Ducks enter their third week of camp beginning Monday, an area of focus will be cleaning up the turnovers Saturday, which included four interceptions and also a couple of fumbles.
"Offense moved the ball really well early, and really kind of throughout the scrimmage," Lanning said. "But we had a lot of self-inflicted wounds."
An attacking UO defense had a hand in forcing the turnovers, to be sure. Justin Flowe forced a fumble that Bryan Addison recovered, and Bennett Williams and Darren Barkins showed off their athleticism in hauling in two of the interceptions.
The offense was sparked by a young playmaker, receiver Kyler Kasper. He had back-to-back long receptions on the same drive, the second resulting in the first touchdown of the scrimmage.
A similar sequence played out later in the afternoon, when running back Noah Whittington had an explosive play to get the ball into the red area, a drive Whittington capped himself with a touchdown run.
Among the special teams highlights was a 51-yard field goal made by placekicker Camden Lewis.
Whittington's explosive play found him in the open field thanks in part to his blockers, whose quality of play was rewarded on that rep but not some others.
"I would have told you the offensive line was really moving down the field, especially running the ball," Lanning said. "But again, we didn't get to cap off some of those drives because of turnovers."
Both lines of scrimmage set the tone, as the pop of pads echoed throughout Autzen. Several young defenders got in on the action, with some of the louder hits of the day delivered by the likes of defensive lineman Ben Roberts, linebacker Harrison Taggart and defensive back Khamari Terrell.
"I thought our guys were really physical today, and that was really pleasing," Lanning said. "… That was something I was really pleased with, was the physicality of the play."
Oregon's coaches this month have used an analogy with their players involving a stoplight, encouraging them to "play green" rather than red or yellow. In the first scrimmage, Lanning said he saw the Ducks "play green" at times, adding that he always appreciated more. He got more on Saturday.
"There was a lot less thinking out there; there was a lot more playing," Lanning said. "Which is what you want."
When camp resumes Monday, the Ducks will move practice to a more familiar start time, in the late morning. But with the season opener still two weeks away as of Saturday's scrimmage, Oregon's focus will remain inward.
"We're going to adjust our days a little bit, but the focus is certainly on us," Lanning said. "We haven't transitioned to game one yet. We'll get at some point to where we start to introduce the first opponent, but we're not to that point yet."