The Sports Daily > Duck Stops Here
We’re talking about PRACTICE: getting a zone-read on the Ducks after two days

Mark Helfrich embraces mistakes. On Day Two of Oregon fall practice he set about the task of evaluating the squad’s progress with Thomas Alva Edison optimism: now they know a thousand things that won’t work.

“We made a ton of mistakes. A ton of new mistakes, good mistakes,’’ Helfrich said. “We talk about make 1,000 mistakes and make 1,000 different ones. We encourage mistakes, then we encourage different ones and more.’’

High and tight: veteran running backs coach Gary Campbell guides #34 Lane Roseberry and newcome Thomas Tyner through a drill. (Eric Evans, goducks.com photo)

The coach said the Webfoots had excellent attention to detail in the morning walk-through, held on the outdoor practice fields. Andy McNamara of goducks.com reported the afternoon session was highlighted by an 11-on-11 period, with Eric Dungy making a sliding touchdown catch in the back of the end zone and Jeff Lockie connecting with Blake Stanton between two defenders on another big pass play.

McNamara had this observation on Marcus Mariota:

Marcus Mariota’s ability to make so many different throws well was on display. Whether a deep ball down the sideline, a touch pass over the middle or a rifle across his body while on the move, the QB’s physical talent is fun to watch. 

Mariota’s passing touch and ability to throw so effectively on the run is a reason why many think the Ducks will put the game in his hands more often in year two. Add his escapability and poise, and it becomes very exciting to contemplate how potent the offense will be with the redshirt sophomore at the helm.

Offensive coordinator Scott Frost told Jason Quick of oregonlive.com, “I think for most people their biggest improvement in their college career comes between your first and second year of playing. I think you continue to get better but that’s where the biggest jump usually takes place. If we get that kind of jump out of Marcus he’s going to do some special things.”

Frost also praised Mariota’s preparation and leadership. 

Sometimes I feel like Marcus is teaching me. He knows what he’s doing. I got to know him real well coaching receivers. He’s just such a great kid. He’s humble. He’s a perfect teammate, he talented but you’d never know it by talking to him. From a personality standpoint he’s exactly what you want in a quarterback.

Frost added that they installed a group of plays yesterday, that they’d add another package today. “Bit by bit as we go through fall camp,” he said.

The new director of the Oregon offensive machine doesn’t seem fazed by the responsibility of calling plays at a blur-fast pace on Game Day. “I had a very smart friend of mine remind me before camp started that there’s no one perfect play,” Frost said. “Most of the time you’re just trying to put your kids in situations so that they can make plays. We definitely have the luxury of having a number of guys that can do something with the ball in their hands. That makes it a lot easier to be an offensive coach.”

Per NCAA rules, the Ducks are in helmets and shorts until Friday. Predictably both of the coaches were asked about freshman sensation Thomas Tyner. Frost mentioned his quickness was evident but his head was spinning around a little with the challenge of absorbing all the new assignments and the pace of practice. Helfrich added, “He’s fast. He’s got good natural vision. A tailback in no-padded drills, that’s kind of like a Ferarri in a 25 mph speed limit. You can’t tell see anything or really prove anything until you get him going.”

Jason Quick of the Oregonian reported that Colt Lyerla was absent on Monday’s Media Day, and today he did not speak to reporters because of illness.

An interview with the head coach after Tuesday’s afternoon practice, from KEZI television: