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Oregon Football

Verone McKinley: 'It's time to play ball'

October 12, 2020

Oregon kicked off the week with their third practice of fall camp. What was different about today was that it was the first time we got to hear the pads pop since the shutdown back in March. Players remain incredibly excited to get back to football, as Jordon Scott, Isaac Slade-Matautia, and Verone McKinley spoke with members of the media on Zoom Monday afternoon.

They all spoke like veterans and harped on the importance of bringing the younger players up to speed.

Here are the top quotes from all three on Monday.

Defensive lineman Jordon Scott 

On decision to return and losing weight

“Mine was pretty much based on if we were going to play before January. So we got the schedule and it was before January, so I decided to come back.”

“Losing weight definitely was a conscious decision. Talking to the scouts and things like that. They all  said they want to see me pass rush and get up field more. I hope that helps me this year.”

On improvement at Oregon

“The biggest thing I can say from freshman year to now is understanding football and all the defense, and offenses, how offenses come out of formation, recognition and stuff like that.”

On younger defensive linemen standing out

“Definitely Popo, making a bigger impact on the season this year. And Brandon Dorlus, he’s gonna be a guy.”

On changing number from 34 to 3

“Me changing my number had a lot to do with all the things that I’ve been through this year. My personal Life including just overall change-- my body and stuff, so I wanted to come out and show that I’m a different player than I was in my past years here.”

On staying physically prepared while awaiting season

“I think the biggest thing about us all being able to work out, even in spite of not having the season when it was all canceled and stuff was just: one day the season was gonna come, even if it was gonna be 2021. You don't want to never just be sitting on the couch.”

Linebacker Isaac Slade-Matautia

On helping young linebackers adjust to defensive system

“First thing I told them was communication. Coaches look for that, from walkthrough, going to practice, if you sound confident in yourself, they're going to be confident for you to play. I told them just study your playbook--every time you get off, go in the playbook. Minus all the distractions from the outside people, social media, just get in your playbook because that was the biggest thing for me.”

“I told them when Troy let me just study the playbook, get in the film room, go outside, just get with the older guys and just work on the little things. All the little things matter, especially on this level.”

On stepping into leadership role after Troy Dye’s departure

“You have to fill shoes like Troy Dye and Troy left a humongous gap in our defense-- all the things he’s done over his career for Oregon, and I felt that I had to be the guy to  step into that position. Just leading our young guys, showing them that you don't always have to be vocal to be a leader. Work by example, that was a big factor for me because everyone knew I wasn’t a talkative guy. I wasn’t one to go yell out calls.”

On being a leader when players were apart

“When we were away just hitting guys up, texting them. Whatever you need I got you. Just being the person they could depend on especially young guys with all the talent coming in. Just being that voice that they could have someone when things get rough they could lean on, depend on me to be there.”

On advantage of being in Andy Avalos’ second year 

“Yeah I believe so. With him being his second year I can see that the installs are getting more in depth, meaning there's more plays getting cut in. There's more different schemes being run by me. This is an opportunity for the young guys to step up because we're going to need a dependable depth chart.”

“Just getting the young guys to build on their confidence from the play calling to know where they’re aligned, their assignment and just building their confidence up so when the ones want to take a break, the twos or threes are just as good as the ones.”

Defensive back Verone McKinley III

On biggest strength of the defense

“I always say that just being able to talk to each other-- having that camaraderie off the field would probably be our biggest thing. With a lot going on, we had to keep in contact with each other just through FaceTime and Zoom and texting each other, making sure everybody's good. So I think having that chemistry off the field is going to help us a lot on the field.”

On expectations for defense this year

“We're picking up to be better than the defense from last year. We fly around, we have fun, we make plays, we communicate. We're just ready to have fun. We got another opportunity to play football so we're all looking forward to it.”

On mood of defensive backfield after opt outs

“We're all ready to go. We all practice the same, we all get the same concepts, we understand everything. So it was like next man up no matter what happens we all gotta be ready to play. We all are ready to have fun--we were excited  we got the news, we were excited”

On not having Jevon Holland 

“I've been talking to Jevon even before he made his decision and I supported whatever he wanted to do.We had a conversation, he was just saying it's time for you to step up. I expect to see right behind me one to two years later and he says it’s the same thing. Stepping up, understanding I gotta step into a leadership role and really make sure I pick up my teammates and pick up my communication and my energy at practice, kind of be one of those leaders.”

On Daewood Davis switching between offense and defense

“Being able to flip your mind: to go from offense to defense and then just going forwards at one point and going backwards at one point. Daewood has done a great job. I'm close with him off the field and he's just focused and he wants to keep getting better on whatever side.

“He's just truly selfless because he has to sometimes play offense, sometimes you have to play defense but he does whatever to make the team better so I commend him.”


Tags: Oregon, Football
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