EUGENE, Oregon — Junior college defensive lineman transfer Malik Young made his Oregon debut and the team began preparations for Southern Utah at practice on Thursday morning. After 17 days of fall training camp, Day 1 of game prep was extremely productive from the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex.
Following the late transfer of Young from Eastern Arizona College, the 6-foot-2 man-child debuted at practice on Thursday in an Oregon helmet with a green No. 94 jersey. He will have to wait five days to practice in full pads, which is protocol.
After being unable to attend Missouri due to SEC guidelines for graduation, Young chose Oregon following his JuCo career. The 301-pounder was the No. 7 ranked defensive tackle in JUCO according to 247sports.com.
Needless to say, this was a huge day for the Ducks. They desperately needed defensive line depth, so this couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. Alongside Young, the Ducks will boast the talents of Scott Pagano, Jordon Scott, Justin Hollins, Henry Mondeaux and Jalen Jelks on their d-line this season. And the depth is building.
Pagano had his walking boot removed earlier this week. He is getting closer to a return to the field.
Additionally, head coach Willie Taggart and his staff began preparing the team for Southern Utah. It’s the first time that Taggart has created a specific game plan for a team in his short Duck coaching career.
“We’ll walk through on Thursday,” said Taggart in reference to his in-season schedule. “We’ll go hard on Tuesday and Wednesday. Then Friday we get out and let loose a little bit. We’ll get a better understanding when we slow it down.”
The head coach addressed the scrimmage on Tuesday from Autzen Stadium.
It was less penalties than the first one (scrimmage), but still way too many. Wasn’t really impressed with our energy when we started off, but I was more impressed with how we finished the scrimmage. Both sides of the ball made plays. I was probably more impressed with some of the plays our No. 2’s (second team) made. That was good to see.
A big topic of conversation the last week has been the battle between the No. 1 team and the No. 2 team. Beyond that, the depth is lacking currently. Nevertheless, the first two teams are showcasing some serious talent. The coach knows what he’s looking for.
“It’s tight,” said Taggart. “Our guys understand that a lot of guys are going to play. When it’s game time, you got to cut back. In the game, there is a real sense of urgency. To the real competitors, the guys that like to compete and love playing under the lights, you see those guys practice a little harder, getting themselves trained for game time.”
He knows the competition between the players is solid, but Taggart is not struggling to manage his depth chart. Oregon’s lead man allows their actions speak to him.
“I don’t think it’s tough,” Taggart stated calmly. “Our players are evaluated every day. You’re looking for consistent improvement each and every day. When it comes to that, it will all separate itself.”
It’s almost hard to believe that Taggart has never coached a game at Oregon. For all he has accomplished already, it feels like he has been on the sideline for years. The most impressive feat was his unprecedented signing of the No. 1 recruiting class for 2018 without coaching a game. Plain and simple, Willie has the juice.
The day wasn’t over just yet...
Here is the amazing story behind it all. If you haven’t heard about it yet, you might want to take a few moments. Nike, OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital, and Oregon unveiled another season of their wonderful 14-year partnership, with uniforms of course! And they are super clean for Oregon’s rematch with Nebraska from Autzen Stadium in Week 2.
This is what college athletics should always be about. There are far too many negative stories in NCAA athletics nowadays and not enough like this one.
The wings are back!
We'll continue to post interviews with Coach T and his coaches/players on a daily basis.