EUGENE, Oregon — After special teams occupied Oregon’s focus on Monday, the Ducks got back to the basics on Tuesday afternoon from the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex.
18 days away from opening day, Oregon football is focusing on eliminating mistakes. Just as important as ball security, the Ducks’ head coach wants his players to tie up any loose ends before the 2017 campaign commences.
“I want the execution to be second nature to our guys,” said Taggart. “Really, we want to limit the missed assignments. As we get closer to the first game, I think it’s important that we cut back on the missed assignments. Those have to slack down a little bit.”
A big part of making mistakes is overthinking. Some coaches place so much on their players mentally, it literally weighs them down physically on the field. Taggart, Jim Leavitt, and the UO staff know mistakes will be limited if the players understand what is being asked of them.
“I think for Coach Leavitt, he put everything in that first week,” Taggart stated. “And now that we’re not installing anything, you see guys lining up and playing football. They’re able to play fast. They don’t have to think as much now.”
Just had a BLT Sandwich and threw down a cold Pepsi! Excited as ever to get on the practice field! Focused, legs feel great, ready to go!!— Jim Leavitt (@CoachJimLeavitt) August 15, 2017
When the players comprehend the concept of the system they're playing, that is when you see teams flying around the ball on defense and scoring in waves on offense. Every successful coach understands that communication is the key to success while limiting mistakes is the key to not losing.
“One thing I’ve been really impressed by is the communication of the guys,” said the head coach. “We try to play the music as loud as we can so those guys can find a way. I want them to yell in their big boy voices to make sure everyone knows what’s going on.”
The defense is playing instrumentally better this fall camp compared to 2016 under Mark Helfrich. The players can see and feel it. A big part of the defensive surge has been the return of Justin Hollins.
After missing the spring, Hollins has been making his presence felt at fall camp. In Oregon’s first full scrimmage of the fall, Hollins recorded four sacks and a safety.
After transitioning from outside linebacker to defensive end in 2015, the junior is looking to create consistent havoc up front for his coaches in 2017. He started all 12 games at defensive end last season.
“Very important. He’s one heck of a football player,” Taggart said in reference to Hollins. “I’m excited about him. We didn’t get a chance to see him in the spring. He’s going to help out this football team tremendously.”
Less than three weeks from their first game, Duck players are getting restless to hit someone besides themselves.
This is the time of the year guys want to play against others, but that’s the time we get better. This is about football. This is about coming together as a football team.
We'll continue to post interviews with Coach T and his coaches/players on a daily basis.