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Football Practice Report: Aug. 23

Aug 23, 2022

Venue: Outdoor practice field
Format: Shells

Oregon's tight end room is a mix of vets looking to prove themselves after injuries, and young guys looking to take the next step of their careers. All of them are working to make progress in honor of their fallen teammate.

In their meeting room inside the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex, Oregon's tight ends leave vacant the seat that used to be occupied by Spencer Webb. When they head out to the practice fields each day, they look to keep his spirit alive in that venue, as well.

"We talk about it," position coach Drew Mehringer said. "I think we want to honor his memory by being great at the way we approach our work. We ask ourselves, is that reflective of what this unit should look like on film? Don't miss on the opportunities that you have; they're not here forever."

This preseason camp presents different opportunities for different members of the tight end room. Cam McCormick and Patrick Herbert are looking to prove they're back from injuries that sidelined them last fall. Terrance Ferguson and Moliki Matavao want to build on promising freshman seasons. Terrell Tilmon is adjusting to a new spot after playing linebacker a year ago.

Mehringer addressed the progress of each on Tuesday after practice.

On McCormick and Herbert: "Obviously Cam's played a lot of football throughout his time here. So he's brought a lot of veteran experience, and even for the guys who played here last year it's nice to have senior leadership in that room. Pat is just scratching the surface on what he can be. He gets better and better every single week."

On Ferguson and Matavao: "With guys that had played last year, we wanted to make sure they were reliable and dependable. Obviously that they knew what to do, get lined up right, but could execute the offense in every facet that we ask them to do, and be guys that are reliable in the passing game."

On Tilmon: "Any time when you flip sides of the ball, there's a massive change in philosophy in what you're overall trying to get done. Blocking to tackling is different. He's come a long way in a very short amount of time. .. He's learned a lot. He's been good."

As this offseason has progressed, the tight ends have learned the offensive system of new coordinator Kenny Dillingham. The coaching staff, meanwhile, has gotten a feel for individual players' strengths, and how they best might be utilized in the scheme.

How many tight ends could see the field in the fall? Mehringer said that, when the Ducks run the ball, he wouldn't be opposed to using "14" personnel – one running back and four of his tight ends.

"That'd be selfish," he said with a smile. "(But) how great does that sound?"

To a bunch of UO tight ends looking to make some noise this fall, no doubt it would sound like music to their ears.

Notable: Following Saturday's scrimmage, the Ducks had an off day from practice Sunday and held their annual preseason retreat at Camp Harlow. The team resumed practice Monday, and practiced for the first time this month in the Moshofsky Center. … Former UO defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti was on hand for a portion of practice Tuesday. …

You might recall head coach Dan Lanning challenging Brandon Dorlus last week to jump out of an 11-on-11 drill, go to the sideline and test how close he could get to running his top speed as measured by the GPS devices players wear during practice. That is proving contagious – on Tuesday, as the offense switched sidelines for a drill, running backs Byron Cardwell and Noah Whittington both dropped down into a sprinter's stance and then ran to the other side of the field, testing their own top speeds late in practice.

Quotable:

Wide receivers coach Junior Adams
On the team "going to the doctor" in the wake of its scrimmages to diagnose improvement

"I thought last week was a good week. The best way to describe it was 'growth.' We had to fight through some adversity. Practice was hard. We had some ups and downs, peaks and valleys. But like Coach Lanning says, going to the doctor, guys come back and they're ready to learn."

Wide receiver Troy Franklin
On his mindset entering his sophomore season

"Second year, so I'm definitely more comfortable, confident. … I'm staying strong in the mental game. If I mess up on a play, flush it and get to the next one. If I'm tired, fight through that stuff. Being mentally strong is a big thing for me this time around."

Post-practice interviews:

Wide receivers coach Junior Adams

Tight ends coach Drew Mehringer

Sophomore receiver Troy Franklin

Sophomore receiver Seven McGee