As hard as it may be to believe the 2019 football season opens in just 29 days. Twenty-nine days for the Ducks to prepare for Auburn.
The last time these two teams had a month of preparation, they were playing for all the marbles. While this game doesn’t have that much on the line, it could set the tone for a special season.
At least that’s what Oregon is hoping for.
Fall camp officially opened today for the Ducks in perfect conditions as a bunch of new Ducks finally got to join the veterans to form one big Pac-12 football team.
“We had a great summer conditioning program and the addition of 11 freshmen at the mid-year point as well as the rest of the gang, 16 more that joined us at the end of June,” second year coach Mario Cristobal said. “They’ve been eager for this day to come and the day has arrived.”
For the veterans, this may be old hat, but expectations are higher than they have been around these parts since some guy named Mariota was roaming campus.
“We had a good first start,” Cristobal said of the first practice. “Very aggressive. “We got some things to clean up, but all the work in the summer shows in the way guys are bending and moving.”
Pressure is nothing new to Cristobal, however, and he knows how to convey that pressure in the healthiest of ways. Pressure can be good as long as it doesn’t suck the fun out of everything. These are 18-22 year old kids, who prepare to have pressure put on them, but that preparation can lead to lots of fun.
Having a veteran quarterback in Justin Herbert and one of the top defenses in the nation led by linebacker Troy Dye doesn’t hurt either.
Although much of the so-called depth chart, (Oregon calls it an organizational chart) might already be written in stone, there’s still a lot to go through this month to make sure the Ducks are a well-oiled machine when they go to Dallas to face the Tigers.
“We’re in helmets. We’re not in pads yet,” Cristobal said. “Got to tone it down with some of the guys because they want to fight for spots.”
Chemistry, with the team, not the class, is all so important. Chemistry with the quarterback and the offensive line, chemistry with the wide receivers, chemistry with certain blitz packages and more will be developed in these important 29 days.
The wide receivers might be the most looked at since they were young and inconsistent last season with the case of the drops. But Herbert likes what he sees so far.
“They’re a bunch of athletic guys and a competitive group,” he said. “They get after it each day and it’s been fun to watch.”
Staying healthy in August is also of paramount. Oregon doesn’t want to shoot itself in its own webfoot, so to speak, with a needless injury. The Ducks are healthy right now and they most definitely want to keep it that way.
~ Don Smalley