Notes From Spring Practice: Day 7

Oregon DE Will Tukuafu

Today's practice was sufficiently better than the previous Monday's session, when the tempo was sluggish and the intensity was lukewarm, at best. Monday morning's practice not only saw the defense play with tremendous will and desire, but also revealed two players, in particular, who are quietly having an outstanding spring.

1. The Oregon defense continues to play with a ton of energy when going against the offense during 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills. Defensive tackle Simi Toeaina, defensive end Will Tukuafu, and linebacker Eddie Pleasant stood out today, as they spearheaded a spirited unit that showed a knack for getting in the backfield and disrupting plays. "I love the speed with which we're practicing," said Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti, "I love the energy. I think guys are competing and it's just a matter of guys learning how to push themselves a little bit harder, because the tempo of our practices are very, very fast...once we get that down, I think we're going to be a very fast, hard-playing team that knows how to finish."

2. Two players who are quietly having an impressive spring are, senior wide receiver, Rory Cavaille, and junior running back, Remene Alston. Cavaille has been the Ducks' model of consistency at wide receiver through seven practices thus far. Not only does he run smooth, crisp routes, but he has also flashed great hands and the ability to run away from defenders in the open field. "Rory has really impressed us as a staff, offensively," said Oregon head coach Chip Kelly on Monday. "He's always where he's supposed to be, he's been really sharp and crisp in his routes, he can play at multiple positions at the receiver spot -- he can be an inside receiver or an outside receiver -- he lends some versatility to us. He's a great blocker, he catches the ball when it's thrown to him, so he's been very impressive." Alston, similarly, has played just as well. He's a tough runner who exhibits improved hands with vastly improved speed and agility. Today, Alston took reps with the first, second, and third units, and his work ethic drew the praise of Coach Kelly after practice this morning. "Rem has just benefited a ton [from getting] a lot of reps and he's taking advantage of those reps and he's a kid that just keeps showing up and the more reps he gets, the better he gets...LeGarrette missing the beginning of spring from a rep standpoint and then Andre [Crenshaw] was out for a day, so Rem's kind of been the one steady guy back there that's taken advantage of his time."

3. Jeremiah Masoli's play continued to undulate today as he threw the ball well at times, but overall, was decidedly inconsistent. On short and intermediate passes, Masoli was very accurate, zipping catchable balls to his receivers with precision, yet, his downfield passing continues to be hit or miss. On a number of occasions this morning, Masoli was seen over throwing open receivers downfield who had a step or two on their defender. Adding touch and loft to deep balls might the biggest thing Masoli needs to improve on between now and the beginning of the season.

4. Na Derris Ward has been moved, at least temporarily, from tight end to the offensive line. While he was out today nursing an upper body injury, he was seen spending a lot of time with offensive line. "NaDarris is with the offensive line right now, yes," stated Kelly on Monday, "so is Conrad Davis...they're both working out with the offensive line right now. We've got some holes to fill. We talked to NaDarris [and told him] if we had to go to Boise State we'll probably only travel three or four tight ends, but we're going to travel ten offensive linemen, so it's the best situation to bring him. He's a big, athletic kid that I think could help us."

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