EUGENE, Oregon — Head coach Willie Taggart is approaching fall camp differently after the removal of two-a-day practices. Before the heat started melting the O’s off helmets, the freshmen Ducks took to the practice field on Wednesday from the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex.
With a forecast of 107 degrees by late afternoon, Oregon made sure to get their players out of the blazing heat early in the day. Prior to the “varsity” practice at 10:00 a.m., the freshmen had their own workout early in the morning.
“I see a lot of young guys,” said Taggart. “They have been fantastic the last few days. We just have helmets on so everyone looks like an All-American.”
Wednesday was the first day the entire team was on hand at the same practice. It certainly made for some interesting and impressive moments.
Offensive line working in unison pic.twitter.com/qjwkv79e16— Quack Addict (@TheQuackFiend) August 2, 2017
One thing that stood out was the continued excellence of cornerback Thomas Graham Jr. and defensive tackle Jordon Scott. The two freshmen have been a mainstay with the No. 1 defense since their arrival on campus in the spring.
“Once we put the pads on, things will be a little different,” Taggart stated. “You got to have courage on impact.”
The players will be wearing their shells beginning on Thursday.
Depth was a concern heading into camp. The only position the coaches were not worried about is the running back group. Senior Royce Freeman leads a formidable quartet with Tony Brooks-James, Kani Benoit, and Taj Griffin. Yet, the rich are getting richer.
Freshman running back Darrian Felix has caught the eye of his head coach, again. The Florida native has been drawing rave reviews, especially from his running back coach Donte Pimpleton.
“I think we have ourselves some pretty good young running backs,” Taggart echoed.
The offense is returning many of the same players from last season. Their priority will be to limit the mistakes this year, including a more simple attack. Simple but dangerous. As for the defense, it’s less transparent.
This year, the defense could be a strength in young numbers. The No. 1 athlete from the incoming class has been showing that he belongs with the first team. Deommodore Lenoir will continue to receive ample opportunities.
“Deommodore Lenoir has done a great job for us and Jaylon Redd,” said Taggart. “I’m really excited to see those guys come and compete with the older guys. I think they’re ready and they are athletic enough to do it. I’m excited to watch them.”
The competition will be elevated another level when shells are introduced on Thursday.
We'll continue to post interviews with Taggart on a daily basis.