EUGENE, Oregon — Following the season ticket holder barbeque and practice on Sunday night, the Ducks enjoyed an off day on Monday before getting back to work at Autzen Stadium on Tuesday.
The Ducks were scheduled to run a game day rehearsal on Sunday, but head coach Willie Taggart wanted to ease off the gas for a moment. After a great fall training camp thus far, Taggart understands what his players need.
“Consistent play,” said Taggart. “On the offensive side, take care of the ball and score touchdowns. On the defensive side, I want to play fundamentally sound and take the ball away.”
Like the first scrimmage of fall camp, this one played very similar except for the fact that it was taking place at Autzen instead of the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex.
The No. 1 offense and defense matched up against the No. 2 defense and offense. For the majority of the scrimmage, the No. 1’s dominated as they should.
“I’m ready for this scrimmage, it’s like a game,” said an excited Taggart. “It’s going to be fun. It’s football season, it’s like Christmas. We should all be vibing, it’s football season.”
Once again the freshman cornerback Thomas Graham Jr. made his presence felt. He intercepted a pass, as he continues to impress everyone in the program. This future star may never see the bench during his Duck career.
“I could (see him starting Week 1),” said Taggart. “Thomas had a good spring too. That’s what is going to make our football team better. The more those guys step up and compete, the better we’re going to be as a football team. Thomas had a great spring, he’s having a great training camp. He’s a guy that is pushing to be a starter.”
If we’re talking about Graham in one sentence, the next must be about Jonah Moi. The outside linebacker continued his ascension with another outstanding defensive day. Moi intercepted a pass during the scrimmage, as well. He is carving out a heavy role for the 2017 campaign.
I think they’re fired up for today’s scrimmage, to be honest with you. Guys who show up and show out, the spotlight does strange things to people.
Offensively, quarterback Justin Herbert is finding his rhythm. He’s getting pretty close to being game ready and Tuesday was another step in the right direction.
“I’m really excited about the entire team and every area we have worked on,” said the head coach. “We’ve got another week of practice this week, then next week is game ready. I’m excited where our football team is.”
And another name that continues to pop up is freshman wide receiver Johnny Johnson III. He’s exhibiting spectacular athleticism and great hands every day, especially the last two practices at Autzen. Watch for him to assume a large role for himself in Week 1.
“I just want to see our guys go out and play with some passion,” Taggart said in reference to the season opener vs Southern Utah. “Enthusiasm. Play smart, tough football and guys look like they’re having fun. If our guys can do that, good things will happen to our football team.”
We'll continue to post interviews with Coach T and his coaches/players on a daily basis.