Ducks have tough decisions ahead
EUGENE — The Ducks are still on the path of totality.
First-year coach Willie Taggart decided to push Oregon’s second scrimmage of fall camp to Thursday to keep the competition for starting spots open.
So the season ticket-holders who showed up Sunday night at Autzen Stadium had to settle for a lot of individual drill work and special teams practice.
“It’s just a little sudden change,” Taggart said. “In football you have sudden changes, you just never know. Make sure our guys are never too comfortable.”
Taggart didn’t get into specifics when asked about which position battles were the most intriguing or important.
There is quality depth for the coaches to chose from on the offensive line and in the secondary. Defensive line and wide receiver are two areas where there is a lack of experience and true freshmen are pushing veterans for jobs.
Braxton Burmeister and Taylor Alie are vying for the No. 2 quarterback spot behind Justin Herbert.
“That’s a great sign,” Taggart said of having to make tough decisions on the depth chart. “When you do that, that means we’ve got a chance. We’re building some depth and that’s really important with our football team. … You can see at a lot of positions there’s not a lot of depth, and it’s so important that we try to develop that as much as we can through training camp and throughout the beginning of the season.
“During the late part of the season, if we have some competitive depth, that can help us win ballgames.”
Taggart said the coaching staff will “go full bore on Southern Utah” next Sunday. The Sept. 2 opener is scheduled to kick off at 5:15 p.m. on the Pac-12 Networks.
“Actually it’s pretty cool,” Taggart said of extending the fall camp competition into a fourth week. “Guys want to play, and as you get closer to the game they want to play even more. I think this next week is going to be really important and I think a lot of guys will separate themselves.”
ALOHA SCHOLARSHIP: As the Ducks lined up for the Oklahoma drill to begin Sunday’s practice, the action was paused as the mother of Kaulana Apelu appeared on the giant scoreboard screen.
She announced that her son, a walk-on junior linebacker from Aiea, Hawaii, was being awarded a scholarship.
Apelu, who made 29 tackles and an interception in nine games last season, was immediately engulfed in a celebratory group hug at midfield.
WALKING WOUNDED: Eight injured defensive players walked up and down the east stairs while their teammates practiced.
Some of the notable Ducks still nursing injuries include safety Brady Breeze and defensive lineman Austin Faoliu. Safety Mattrell McGraw was also shaken up during a run-stopping drill.
Clemson graduate transfer Scott Pagano, a defensive lineman who could really give Jim Leavitt’s unit a boost, is still wearing a boot on his surgically-repaired foot.
NOTABLE: Darrian McNeal, Dillon Mitchell, Jaylon Redd and Casey Eugenio fielded punts. One of the first players to converge on the punt coverage team was Charles Nelson. … Only three quarterbacks went through the individual drills during the 20 minutes of practice open to the media. Freshman walk-on Mike Irwin was absent. … Select players and coaches will sign autographs during fan day from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday in the Moshofsky Center.
QUOTABLE: "We set a lot of goals. We have offensive goals and defensive goals and we have team goals. Our team goal is to win the Pac-12,” Taggart said. “That’s our team goal. We figure if we win the Pac-12 then we’re going to be doing some good things offensively, defensively and special teams.”