After four days of practices and drills, the Oregon football team finally got a chance to "go live" Tuesday as the Ducks held their first major scrimmage of the spring. Despite the scrimmage being closed to members of the media and general public, there was plenty of action on the field, according to both players and coaches. In assessing today's first look at extended live action between the offense and the defense, Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich says that both sides were evenly matched throughout the morning.
Oregon sophomore running back Byron Marshall had a good scrimmage Tuesday, but his development continues to be a work-in-progress, according to Helfrich.
"The defense got the better of the offense for a little bit," said Helfrich Tuesday. "Offense had a few big plays and offense probably finished a little bit stronger at the end, but we got a lot of great tape. We got a lot of young guys that made mistakes – not getting out of bounds in a two-minute drill, maybe not in the right place in a prevent defense type situation – but just a lot of great stuff to talk about."
Game officials were also on hand to preside over the scrimmage, thus in addition to the handful of mental mistakes that occurred place Tuesday, there were also the typical number of alignment issues that arose, according to Helfrich.
Perhaps the most memorable, or in this case, teachable moment for Helfrich and company was a sequence towards the end of the scrimmage in which the offense had the ball with no timeouts left and needing to score a touchdown. Helfrich says the offense scored the touchdown, but missed the crucial extra point to "win", sending the game into "overtime."
"The defense was acting like someone stole their puppy and in real football, we're going to overtime," said Helfrich. "It's just the whole situational deal and it's a million of those types of things. We had a guy that should have blocked a punt, he was pouting, and meanwhile back at the ranch, Bralon Addison made about every guy on the punt team miss, except the guy who should have been blocking [instead of pouting] didn't finish the play.
"That's the kind of stuff on film that's just effort and there's just a bunch of situations like that that are very correctable."
Individually, both Helfrich and sophomore quarterback Marcus Mariota said that sophomore running back Byron Marshall impressed when given the opportunity to carry the football Tuesday. For Helfrich, Marshall's performance, while good, is just but another step in a lengthy development process.
"[Byron] got better as the day went on," said Helfrich. "He started a little slowly, but Byron is just a guy that just is still finding himself as a runner and just needs to put the toughness and the sprinter together all the time. He's a smart guy, a tough guy, a total back type guy, and now he just needs to do that all the time."
Defensively, Mariota noted that junior cornerback Dior Mathis got the best of him after Mariota and his receiver miscommunicated on a route which led to an interception for the Detroit, Mich. native.
"Dior got me today," said Mariota. "I think it was third down and I thought the receiver was going to sit, he went, and it was just one of those things that was a miscommunication.
"He didn't take it back to the house. I can't let that happen...I didn't tackle him, but the guys got him for me."
After a day off Wednesday, the Ducks will resume spring drills Thursday morning.
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