Photo by Allan Johnstone
Oregon Football

Fall Camp Observations

August 8, 2018
3,699

I don't believe you need to go to practice every day to pick up on what's going on in Eugene. By no means does it hurt, but if you just watch and listen from the multiple outlets attending you can pick up quite a bit. 

However it helps more if you tune into Moseley's daily reports in addition to sticking to twitter. Why twitter?

The players and coaches are all active on twitter. Very active. It's easy to see what they are preaching or talking about and form some conclusions. 

Here is what has stood out to me most from the first week (or so) of practice.

THE CULTURE

You're going to hear it until you start to buy in yourself. Every coach, every player, every interview with Mario Cristobal preaches the change in culture with this team. And for good reason.

We knew when coach Cristobal was first hired this would be something he brought to the table. But I don't think anyone can comprehend just how much he's stressed it. 

At the end of the day this team is like a big family. The culture is what's going to get them through a tough and rigorous season. 

But the culture isn't just about this season, this team. This is a foundation element for the long-term success of Oregon football. The younger guys will become older guys and they will be tasked with enforcing the culture to the next group of young guys. This isn't just a 1-year thing. This is a fundemental element of what this program will be under Mario Cristobal's watch.

You won't hear him chanting a catch phrase this season. There won't be 'Do Something' or 'Men of Oregon' or 'Win the Day' plastered anywhere. Instead you'll just hear him repeat over and over about the culture being put in place at Oregon. 

No hype, no flash, just substance and consistency. For now, it certainly looks like it's working for coach Cristobal.

The Best 22

It certainly appears Mario Cristobal and his coaches are determined to find the best 22 players and get them on the field. We see Keith Simms moving to outside linebacker, we see Bryan Addison playing on both sides, we see guys moving around.

I applaud the coaches for trying new things out now. A lot of folks are quick to forget this is the first week of Fall camp. You have a roster infused with new players you've never coached. This is the time you experiment, not week four of the season. 

I believe this is going to be a big piece of Oregon football moving forward under Cristobal. Truly trying to get your best 22 guys on the field rather than being rigid to 'player x is a safety and only plays safety' for example.

Top to Bottom, This Team is Better

Last year what we saw was a 'top-heavy' Oregon team. There were some very talented players on that team, but unfortunately there just wasn't much in terms of role players and depth. 

So what I mean by this is, 1-50, Oregon is a more talented squad. Yes Herbert is Herbert, Dye is Dye, but the younger guys are more talented than what these past teams have brought in. Instead of having a 2nd stringer coming in and seeing a significant gap in talent, that gap is a lot closer. Clearly a starter is a starter for a reason.

What gives me room for optimism is the fact that Oregon is recruiting at such a high level. Again, nobody has signed but this 2019 class is prime to push this talent gap even closer between the 1's and 2's and 3's.

No football team gets through a season with a good starting squad and no depth. It doesn't happen in today's football. Hearing about the new guys like Jevon Holland and Adrian Jackson (among others) making some early impressions is a huge, HUGE, step forward for Oregon football.

Discipline is Key

Almost immediately after Cristobal finishes talking about culture he talks about discipline in the next breath. We've heard the staff is not tolerating mistakes in practice. In fact Cristobal has gone so far as to not only have refs at practice but bring them in to coaches meetings to discuss improvements.

This was a GIANT issue for this Oregon team under Willie Taggart. One of the worst of any Oregon football team.

The culture will help with accountability of mistakes. But continuing to show a 'zero tolerance' policy in practice will only reinforce it. 

Between special teams and penalties, Oregon could flip the field position by 20-30 yards each possession. Making it easier on the offense and defense all season long.

Controlling the LOS

No team wins the big football games without owning the line of scrimmage. It's a fundamental of football that dates back to the inception of football. 

It is well discussed just how much bigger this offensive line is. You can see it in pictures from every practice when the defensive ends are lined up against the tackles. Steve Jones, Penei Sewell and others are monsters. This is easily Oregon's best and deepest offensive line in program history. Regardless of who's running behind them, there will be lanes to run through.

Protecting Justin Herbert is priority No. 1. Again we saw what this team went through when Herbert was running the show vs when he wasn't. I hate to put a value on an individual player, but Herbert is Oregon's key to success this season.

It's not just on offense though. Jordon Scott anchors the defensive line and the return of Jalen Jelks is exactly what Oregon needed. The emergence of Austion Faoliu is going to be big too. 

It's even more important to hear guys like Popo Aumuvae, Gary Baker and Austin Faoliu stepping up behind them. There isn't a group of defensive inemen that will play every down of every game this season. Having quality depth behind them to keep them fresh (er) late in the game will only keep this team in the hunt in close fourth quarter games.

Feld is the X-Factor

Just look at pretty much any player on the team, they are bigger but also in tremendous shape. We see the transformation of Jordon Scott's body. We see Tony Brooks-James has added 10-15 pounds but maintain his speed.

At the time it was hard to understand the true importance of this hire. But as we talked to Feld on ScoopDuck he mentioned the specific type of training he's doing to allow these young men to maintain the early season speed and strength well into the season. He talked about transforming their bodies and minds.

The physical aspect can't be under estimated. The practices are ramped up and it's clear these guys, old and young, are playing with better confidence and many are mentioning the differences in their bodies they can feel.

It's one thing to get the talent on your campus. But it's another to make that player the best version of himself.

In the close games, this is going to be the x-factor that helps Oregon get over the hump.

 

Tags: Football, Oregon
 
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