EUGENE, Oregon — The Ducks’ offense continues to find their rhythm as fall training camp begins to wind down. After the 17th practice of the fall season on Wednesday, Oregon’s O is starting to click.
Following nearly three weeks of fall training camp that saw the defense dominate the field and headlines, Justin Herbert and the offense is catching up.
It’s completely natural for the defense to be ahead of the offense early in camp. It’s similar to baseball with pitchers and hitters. The pitchers always have the advantage to start spring training.
Midway through the summer, the bats wake up and start retaliating. The Duck offense looks ready to retaliate like a Louisville slugger in the south during the middle of July.
On Tuesday, receivers Charles Nelson, Dillon Mitchell and Brenden Schooler were scrimmaging as the No. 1 unit. Wednesday, freshman Johnny Johnson III entered the No. 1 fold and I don’t see him leaving it anytime soon.
I’ve been excited by Johnson throughout camp. He’s really coming on strong of late, pushing for starter reps. He will be used in a variety of ways this season. The true freshman has the “it” factor working for him, plus a pair of “SC Top 10” hands. Wait until JJ has a full year under his belt next season.
“The jump from that first year to the second year, in my experience, can be exponential,” said co-offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo. “I don’t think you got it all figured out, but the game does slow down a little bit.”
No matter who misses a practice at the wide receiver position, somebody behind them is ready to step up. Arroyo is proud of the effort he has seen from his receivers like Johnson.
In the wide receivers room, if somebody like Charles (Nelson) or Alex (Ofodile) is out, everybody in that room raises their hand. They’re ready to cut it loose, have fun. They’ve done a great job.
Before TheMovement18 walks onto campus, the Ducks must build the depth of their third string and beyond. The first and second team is littered with talent. However, there is much to be desired beyond that.
“If they played to a certain standard (last year), they need to play better this year,” said Cristobal. “You’re going to need depth. You’re going to need someone, at some point or time, to step in. We’re going to keep cranking it up.”
Last season, an Oregon weakness was their offensive line which was filled with freshmen starters. This year, an experienced line (three sophomores, two seniors) could be a major strength of this squad.
“It’s not just the offensive line, it’s the perimeter,” said o-line coach and co-offensive coordinator Mario Cristobal. “I think what’s making everyone better is the amount of competition. It is relentless. The amount of juice and energy, I’ve never seen that level of excitement. It’s contagious.”
As with any football team, health must be on their side to succeed. If a large majority of Ducks can stay upright in 2017, good things are going to happen. However, if Oregon is relying on third and fourth stringers at any point, it could become another long haul.
The depth is on its way. Unfortunately, it won’t arrive until 2018. Nevertheless, Cristobal and his colleagues like the players they possess on their first and second teams.
“I wouldn’t trade these guys for anybody,” Cristobal stated on Wednesday at the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex.
Overall, the Ducks have completed 17 days of fall training camp. Additionally, they’re just 10 days away from opening the season against Southern Utah. The next week and change is crucial for the coaches to keep their players focused. It’s almost go time.
We'll continue to post interviews with Coach T and his coaches/players on a daily basis.