For the first time since the days of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were fans watching football at Autzen Stadium Saturday. It was hard to ask for better weather, and there wasn't a cloud in the sky while the Ducks held their first spring scrimmage.
Now passing the halfway mark in spring ball, Mario Cristobal had plenty of positive remarks about his team, but was also honest about the need for improvement.
"I feel there were some guys that played at a high level but I feel like we were inconsistent overall."
Today's practice consisted of individual drills, positional drills, a 7 on 7 period, and a scrimmage period. Cristobal says the offense took control of the day.
"For as competitive as it has been today, the offense certainly took control of most of the team periods."
There were a variety of notable players that were not present for the spring game.
-WR Jaylon Redd
-TE DJ Johnson
-CB Dontae Manning
One player that was seen on the sideline was Cam McCormick in his jersey. He's been working to return from injury for an extensive period of time.
Cristobal did not offer any specifics on the status of those players, but doesn't seem concerned about the severity of any injuries at this time.
"If someone wasn't playing and was on the sideline or not on the field and maybe rehabbing or doing something inside it's because they weren't available. Because of whatever it may be they weren't available," the head coach said.
Running backs Trey Benson and Sean Dollars were on the sideline in their jerseys. Benson didn't have any braces on and seemed to be walking comfortably, while Dollars had a heavy brace on his right knee and was moving around with crutches.
The head coach liked what he saw out of his quarterbacks, with Anthony Brown continuing to work exclusively with the ones.
"Thought Anthony Brown continues to get a really good grasp of the offense and made several big plays and good decisions for the most part," he said of the veteran quarterback.
Brown had a couple of errant throws over the middle of the field and was out of sync with some of his receivers, but Cristobal doesn't sound too concerned about his development.
"He's just progressing and progressing well." He said.
Jay Butterfield and Ty Thompson rotated in with the two's and made "big plays," with a couple of passes being dropped by receivers. Butterfield connected with wide receiver Kris Hutson on a deep ball that was stopped just short of the end zone.
"They're doing well enough where we feel that they are progressing to not only make this a real competitive situation, but that they're going to help us win football games this year," he said of his young quarterbacks.
Robby Ashford got some work in 7-on-7 but did not play in the scrimmage after "tweaking" his ankle earlier this week.
"Some of these linemen they're some big old heavy dudes. He got stomped on pretty good, we thought we might be able to give him a go--figured it was safe to keep him in 7-on-7."
The freshmen and other underclassmen have made a lot of impressions throughout spring camp, and that continued today, with players like Dont'e Thornton and Troy Franklin looking comfortable and making plays.
"I didn't see many mental mistakes," Cristobal said. "Guys lined up in the right spot, ran the right routes--caught the ball when it was thrown to them for the most part, made something happen with the ball after that fact."
The Ducks signed one of the top tight end duos in the country with freshmen 4-stars Terrance Ferguson and Moliki Matavao. Ferguson showed up Saturday when he connected with Jay Butterfield at the goal line for a quick touchdown on a roll out.
Cristobal wasn't shy when asked about the potential for the pair to make a real impact as soon as this season.
"Without a doubt. They knew that when they were being recruited and I'm glad they're seeing it now," he said.
Trench play has been a major point of emphasis throughout spring football and Cristobal lauded Offensive Line Coach Alex Mirabal as well as Defensive Line Coach Joe Salave'a for their work in the spring. So far all the signs point to strides being made on both sides of the ball.
"It's a war every single day. It's a battle in there and it has allowed us to improve a ton."
Oregon will return to action on Tuesday for its ninth spring practice.
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