EUGENE, Oregon — The first day of fall camp is complete for the 2017 Oregon football team. First-year Duck head coach Willie Taggart led his team onto the practice field for exactly two hours on Monday morning. UO will fight increasing temperatures throughout the week.
Fall camp started eight days earlier than last season with the new rule that outlawed two-a-day practices. Regardless, Oregon hit the ground running on the last day of July.
Sitting just 33 days out from opening day, Oregon football began their preparation for another football season. With temps in the high 80’s, this was a balmy day compared to what the Ducks will be facing later in the week.
Forecasts are projecting triple digits from Tuesday until Friday. It will reach a high of 107 degrees on Wednesday. And that’s all for me from the meteorologist chair.
The UO coaching staff is changing things up this year if that wasn’t already obvious. They are introducing freshmen practices. The frosh players will now have opportunities to get more repetition than a normal practice, which is focused on the first and second team.
“All the guys are going to get a ton of reps,” said the Oregon head coach. “It gives us a chance as coaches to really coach them up. So when they get with our varsity guys there is no drag.”
You heard him, freshmen and varsity. How can you not like that?
Taggart made sure to give his team water breaks and rest periods in the shade of the facility. The Ducks worked in groups, as usual, with five minutes for each drill represented on the scoreboard clock. Everything was run with pace, precision, and hustle.
“We didn’t go as fast as we wanted to go because we didn’t have as much depth because we split practice up,” Taggart said. “I was impressed. Those guys came out and worked today.”
It’s very early, so there is no need to get too excited after two hours of practice. However, the Duck defense was flying around the ball on Monday with only their helmets.
“Training camp is really when a football team comes together,” Taggart stated. “It gives us an opportunity to put guys with guys that really wouldn’t hang out. Get to know them a little better. I think that’s a big deal.”
Brenden Schooler had a nice day. The sophomore let a sure interception slip through his hands on a deep ball in the end zone. However, he made up for it on the very next play with the first pick of camp.
Ugo Amadi looked very good. He made a few nice plays, including an impressive interception of Justin Herbert. He was rocking the No. 7 after Taggart handed out the single-digit numbers last week.
Herbert connected with his core receivers early and often. The sophomore unleashed frozen ropes into the chest of Charles Nelson and Dillon Mitchell regularly.
As if it’s even possible, Herbert slung a couple balls that made it seem like his arm strength has actually improved. He made about three or four throws where he really ripped it.
The play of camp (thus far) came on a deep hook-up between Herbert and Nelson. The quarterback launched a pass to Nelson who was swarmed by Schooler. Somehow, Chuck TooRaw adjusted in mid-air and made a spectacular snag in the end zone. The score led to the first celebration of camp between the two. Their celebrating needs more work.
Overall, it was a solid first day of camp. The energy will be ramped up another notch for Day 2 on Tuesday under 102 degrees on the turf.
Nevertheless, the heat isn’t even the most difficult part of camp for these Ducks. Most just want a restful sleep at night, but that may be tougher than envisioned while in the dorms during camp.
“For the coaches, it gives us a chance to go back to school,” Taggart said with a smile. “Stay in the dorms, sleep in a hard bed. Get to know each other at night. I think that’s really important for our guys.”
We'll continue to post brand new interviews with Taggart on a daily basis.