Now exactly three weeks away from the prime-time opener against Auburn, the Oregon Ducks wrapped up their first intra-squad scrimmage of fall camp on Saturday afternoon.
Despite some wrinkles that still need to be ironed out, head coach Mario Cristobal was pleased with his team’s performance.
“Both sides of the ball made a lot of plays today,” Cristobal said. “A little bit of sloppy execution. We gave up some opportunities, and also blew some opportunities, but it was a good learning lesson. I would say better than a typical first scrimmage.”
The number one priority throughout fall camp, for the Ducks, is to stay healthy, and Cristobal noted that his team did just that. Outside of some minor tweaks, the team escaped Saturday’s scrimmage without any major injuries.
It’s no secret that senior quarterback Justin Herbert will have the spotlight for the entire 2019 season. Herbert, in his final fall camp as a Duck, is taking the opportunity to elevate his game before the extra cameras of the regular season arrive.
“Justin continues to get better and better,” Cristobal said. “He had some really impressive throws, and at the same time, did a great job managing the protections and the runs.”
Following the news of wide receiver Brenden Schooler’s foot injury that will keep him out for at least the next six weeks, the performance of the wideouts was something that Cristobal watched with a keen eye, and he liked what he saw.
“Johnny Johnson really played big today,” Cristobal said. “Mycah Pittman played really well. Jaylon Redd continues to play well for us. Bryan Addison had a big-time catch as well. Those guys are really pushing each other. The competition has really helped.”
Although Cristobal saw Saturday as a net success, he identified ball security as something that the offense needs to tighten up before the season kicks off. Fumbles plagued the Ducks for much of 2018, and it has been a point of emphasis for ball carriers throughout camp.
“We coughed one up today,” Cristobal said. “I’m really upset with that. Really disappointed. That ball should never come out.”
The early test against Auburn is now just three weeks away, and the time to lock in on the specifics of Auburn is looming. Staying focused on in-house improvement remains a top priority for Cristobal and the Ducks.
“The whole ‘focus on the opponent thing’...there’s urgency. There’s a complete awareness. No one’s denying that there’s a big game coming up,” Cristobal said. “But I can promise you this: the focus, and the details of what we’re doing, is completely on what we have to do. Our techniques. Our fundamentals. Our scheme.”
Follow Brady on Twitter @BradyLim619