Oregon Football Spring Practice opened today with its first of 15 practice to be held throughout April, culminating with the 2014 Spring Game to be held the first week of May. As expected, the mood was relaxed and light, yet focused. In keeping with that theme, here are a few take aways from Spring Practice Day 1:
1. Tryouts for walk-ons were apparently being held today. I had the pleasure of helping a young aspiring Duck running back find his way into the super secretive Spring practice field.
2. Coach Helfrich saw a lot of mistakes in practice today but said that was a good thing at this point in the season.
3. In regards to Coach Aliotti’s absense, his iconic yelling during practice was missed, but new Defensive Coordinator, Don Pellum seems to have made a smooth transition. Most notably, the Defense seemed to be “communicating” well. Coach Helfrich explained that indicates that indicated they are feeling confident- definitely a good step in the right direction.
4. Marcus Mariota was his relaxed self, but seems to be much more confident. He even got quite a few laughs during media interviews. He spent a good amount of time relaxing in Hawaii during the break and joked that he was much “darker”.
5. Without Josh Huff as his main go to, Mariota said several other guys are stepping up. He named B.J Kelly, Chance Allen and Bralon Addison as standouts.
6. Thomas Tyner has gained some weight and now weighs in at 220- Enough said.
7. Coach Helfrich addressed the recent NCAA ruling against the move to slow-down the no-huddle offense. He admittted there was some initial concern about what an in-favor ruling would have meant for the Ducks, noting they would have had to make some serious changes to the program. He added however, that worry was sort lived after talking to people wth influence in that arena. He agrees player safety should continue to be a priority, but steps to improve player safety should be supported by facts.