written by A.J. Jacobson
The Oregon Ducks began their fourth week of spring drills with a scrimmage in Autzen Stadium in what turned out to be a physical test for head coach Mark Helfrich’s football team.
“We had a couple penalties that prolonged drives,” groused Helfrich. “They could have really taken a stranglehold of the scrimmage. The offense bounced back and finished a little bit better. But all in all some really good stuff.”
Some new names emerged as having standout performances.
“Defensively Stetzon Bair jumped out and did a bunch of good things,” said Helfrich. “Dominique Harrison, I’m going to have to go back to the film but I think it was a 100-yard interception return or close to it.
“Offensively Devon Allen did lots of really good stuff. All the running backs did good things. All the quarterbacks, a little bit of a hodgepodge with getting a bunch of those young guys going.
“Matt Wogan did a really good job kicking the ball. We tried to put him in some adverse situations but I think he was 100%.”
“I think it was a great scrimmage overall,” said redshirt freshman center Doug Brenner. “Coach Helfrich said at the end that it was a very physical scrimmage. We still have a long way to go but things are really coming along, especially for us young offensive linemen. We are getting there.”
Starting quarterback Marcus Mariota was not the one who threw the interception to Harrison but he did see it unfold.
“The quarterback made too quick of a read and Dominique was there to pick it off,” analyzed Mariota. “He is quick. He is good at shadowing and is at the right place at the right time. He has made some key plays, even in this scrimmage as well. I think he has come a long way. He has been around the ball a lot.”
Devon Allen is one of two football players who is also running track for the Ducks. Dior Mathis is also playing both sports and like Allen, stood out in the scrimmage.
“Dior did some good things,” said Helfrich. “He made some plays on special teams and as a returner. Dior has gotten better and better and better. Both guys have managed the two-sport deal very well. The track coaches and Coach Rad have done a great job and I think our guys know. Hopefully when we talk to other prospective student-athletes they know that’s a real opportunity here.”
The running back group has two very talented players returning from last year’s team in Byron Marshall and Thomas Tyner. The unit as a whole, however, did not live up to their position coaches’ very high standards today.
“I was fairly impressed,” Campbell faintly praised. “I think we are still making some mistakes in the backfield that I would like to get eliminated. We played hard and I liked that part. It was a very physical scrimmage. We made a few mistakes that I think we should have eliminated by now so we are going to get to work on getting all that straightened out in the next week.”
This spring has been about getting the youthful Ducks as many reps as possible and in today's scrimmage the veterans did not get too much work as the coaches focused on the less experienced players. One result is some new names emerging in the post-practice mentions such as Dominique Harrison and Stetzon Bair.
Additionally, Duck Sports Authority after practice asked Doug Brenner to name a standout defensive lineman amongst the newer players and he emphatically named Tui Talia. Having two of three JC transfers getting mentions during spring camp is an encouraging sign.
While Coach Campbell was not especially pleased with his group today, they still have been doing very well this spring. Thomas Tyner and Byron Marshall are better than ever according to Campbell. When fall rolls around two more players join his group, Tony James and Royce Freeman. Campbell told DSA that he thinks both of them can play this year.