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Football Practice Report: Sept. 21 – GoDucks.com

By Rob Moseley
Editor, GoDucks.com

Venue: Moshofsky Center
Format: Shells

During a 7-on-7 period in Monday’s Oregon football practice, cornerback Arrion Springs broke up at least three passes, and Juwaan Williams twice hit a receiver as the ball arrived, breaking up the plays.

Paris Bostick, Glen Ihenacho – simply “Nacho” to his coaches and teammates – and Ugo Amadi broke up passes during the period as well. A week ago, defensive backs coach John Neal expressed a desire to take more advantage of his depth, and after doing so in Saturday’s win over Georgia State, the secondary seemed as competitive as ever Monday.

Playing without starting cornerback Chris Seisay, Neal started Amadi and Springs at the corners Saturday, with Tyree Robinson and Reggie Daniels at safety. Robinson ended Georgia State’s first possession with a pick-six, and the Panthers settled for an unsuccessful field-goal attempt on their next drive; it stalled after a Daniels pass breakup and an incompletion forced by a blitzing Ihenacho.

As the day wore on, Neal also got extensive reps for Williams at safety, and converted quarterback Ty Griffin made it onto the field in the second half. “He’s still got a lot to learn, but when he got the opportunity, he was solid,” Neal said. “Khalil (Oliver) was solid. I’m going to try to work Paris into some situations. And I’m going to play Juwaan. Juwaan had the one bad play (a missed tackle on a 75-yard reception in the third quarter) that cost us a touchdown, and that’s bad. But there’s 30 or 40 other plays that say he can play.”

Neal said Ihenacho “showed up” against Georgia State and is “the most ‘sudden’ guy I’ve got,” and that showed Monday. On the first 11-on-11 rep of practice, Ihenacho ran step for step with a receiver and broke up a pass play. A few minutes later, he jumped in front of another wideout, intercepted a pass and took off up the field.

Ihenacho is a natural safety, but he was moved to cornerback in the spring and now can play both positions. That knowledge of how the back end of the defense fits together could explain his development into a key cog for Neal going forward this season.

“It’s exciting being out there with the people you practice with and go to war with every day,” Ihenacho said. “But it was nothing different than practice, to me. It felt the same to me. I’ve done it so much in practice, it almost felt natural.”

Other highlights: After Robinson’s two interceptions on tipped passes Saturday, there was more of the same today. In an earlier 7-on-7 period, Griffin popped a receiver as the ball arrived, and Johnny Ragin III made a diving interception as it fluttered toward the ground. Later in practice, Torrodney Prevot picked off a pass that deflected off the intended receiver. … Rodney Hardrick also had a pick in that period, dropping into coverage, reaching up with one had to deflect the pass and securing it as it dropped into his arms. …

The tempo drill to start practice involved a single rep for each group, with the offense trying to convert a fourth down. Jalen Brown got behind the secondary with the twos and hauled in a deep ball from Jeff Lockie. … Lockie had another nice deep ball later in practice, a tear drop to Kirk Merritt. … Vernon Adams Jr. nearly connected on a long TD pass with Devon Allen in the final team period, but scout-team defensive back Michael Manns made a nice play to break it up.

Other observations: After practice, Adams told media he expects his availability to be a game-time decision again this week. “We’ll see how it feels,” he said. “I’m just taking it day by day.” … Adams was long on a couple of deep balls today, but his leadership skills showed no rust. After one 7-on-7 rep he got in Allen’s ear about keeping plays alive; Adams had scrambled out of the “pocket” due to the coverage on the rep, but was still looking to make a play down the field. … In case you missed it, Oregon’s game Oct. 3 at Colorado will kick off at 7 p.m. PT on ESPN.

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