EUGENE, Oregon — The Ducks returned to the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex on Tuesday for their first fall practice under the lights. Head coach Willie Taggart believes every game has a different start time, so why should practice be any different?
After off days on Sunday and Monday, Oregon returned to the field for a night practice. It gave some newcomers a chance to adjust to the lights. Regardless, Taggart loves any opportunity that enhances competition. Playing under the lights is certainly one of those motivational tools.
The coach was impressed by his team's overall performance in their first week of fall camp.
“I like the effort and passion our guys were playing with,” said Taggart. “We got to come out here and play with passion and enthusiasm. Have fun, we can’t think of it as work, we need to have fun. I enjoyed watching our guys improve each and every day.”
Fundamentals are essential for any successful team and Oregon’s head man stresses that to his players on a regular basis. Reviewing film and old practices help clean up mistakes for Taggart’s team.
“We want to see our guys perform practice at a high level with pads,” Taggart stated. “We want to go over last week, especially early in training camp. We want our guys to understand the basics.”
The story through seven days of fall practice has been the Oregon defense. They are flying around the ball and playing with passion. The coach may not have been around last season, but we were and there is a noticeable change in the atmosphere.
I don’t know about other fall camps, but I know they’re flying around. They’re faster and better than they did in the spring. We have a group of guys that work well together in the offseason and it transferred to training camp. It’s made a big difference.
After spring, Arrion Springs was the most improved player I saw in the Oregon football locker room. His play on the practice field and at Autzen for the 2017 Spring Game exhibited his desire to be great. He will not be satisfied with anything less than his best.
“He had a wonderful spring, especially toward the end of spring ball,” said Taggart in reference to his senior cornerback. “He’s continued throughout training camp. Sometimes when it’s your last go around, you start to put it all together.”
The coach could not leave out his other inspiring cornerback, Ugo Amadi. He has provided instrumental leadership to his teammates this summer and Amadi is doing it because he wants to.
“Ugo (Amadi) had a really good spring,” Taggart observed after his cornerback decided to stay in Eugene for the summer to work out and lead. “Good summer. He’s a really impressive football player. Ugo has become one of our team leaders. I watched Ugo this summer, sitting down eating with him, getting to know him. Not one coach asked him to do that (stay). He took it upon himself to do it.”
At the end of his presser, Taggart addressed a hot topic in Oregon circles concerning two-point conversions.
“Go for it when you have to,” said Taggart bluntly. “I’m not going to go for it for the hell of it. If we have to go for two, we will go for two.”
We'll continue to post interviews with Taggart and his players on a daily basis.