Tyler Shough has the current leg up to be Oregon’s starting quarterback when the Ducks open their season Nov. 7 at home against Stanford.
But transfer Anthony Brown has also received praise for the work he’s done in two weeks of fall practices. They head into Saturday’s scrimmage, the team’s second, trying to improve their status.
“Those guys have both done a very nice job. I think we’ve steady progress throughout camp thus far, and the young guys are improving as well,” said Joe Moorhead, Oregon’s first-year offensive coordinator. “We just want to come out tomorrow and see the entire offense play with a bunch of physicality, creating explosive plays while limiting turnovers.”
Shough, a redshirt sophomore, is in his third year in the program and worked primarily with the first-team offense in fall camp. He took a total of 53 snaps in five games last season as the backup to Justin Herbert, completing 12 of 15 passes for 144 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Brown, a senior, comes from Boston College, where he threw for 1,250 yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions in six games in 2019 before an injury ended his season.
The Ducks’ secondary lost cornerback Thomas Graham, nickel Javon Holland and safety Brady Breeze for the season as they decided to opt out due to the pandemic.
All were major contributors in a successful defense in 2019.
A pair of sophomores safety Jamal Hill and cornerback Mykael Wright, have drawn attention as they’ve worked to help fill those holes.
“Those guys are doing a great job,” Ducks defensive coordinator Andy Avalos said. “When you go from being a backup or a role player to being the starter, it is about being on every single day. You have to be your personal best every single day, and that’s a huge challenge. That starts with the mentality.”
Avalos added that the program is working to build that mentality and team leaders are being asked to have a positive impact and show younger players what that looks like.
Sophomore defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux is the Ducks’ known commodity when it comes to rushing the quarterback after collecting nine sacks last season as a true freshman.
But who else will join Thibodeaux in that role this fall?
Oregon tracks in practice what it calls a “havoc rate” in pass rush situations. Besides Thibodeaux, others who have shown potential for creating problems in opposing offensive backfields include sophomore linebackers Andrew Faoliu and Adrian Jackson, senior defensive tackle Austin Faoliu (Andrew’s brother), sophomore defensive tackle Brandon Dorlus and true freshman defensive end Bradyn Swinson.
“We feel pretty good about the depth we’re building there and our ability to attack the pocket,” Avalos said.
Moorhead comes to Eugene after most recently serving as Mississippi State’s head coach and previously as the offensive coordinator at Penn State.
He said the offensive install is nearly complete. In Saturday’s scrimmage, Moorhead hopes to see a higher level of precision and execution.
“You’re trying to put a new offense in against an unbelievably coached defense and do it all at a very high level in a short amount of time, and time is not our friend,” he said. “But the best thing about it is, as it pertains to the culture of our program, a lot of people are doing the same thing around the country and (head coach Mario) Cristobal has made it very clear that we’re not going to use anything as an excuse or a crutch.”
Pac-12 offenses are dealing with trying to figure out the plans of several new offensive coordinators, in addition to the fact that many of the conference’s top defensive players are gone and being replaced by some unfamiliar faces.
As far as the coaching changes, Moorhead said the Oregon coaching staff used time at home during quarantine researching and preparing a contingency plan in case there was a season.
“The coordinators we know who they’re going to be, we’ve done all those breakdowns and we’ve done all that preparation and watched all that film,” he said. “Guys who are going to be new, you do your best to look back at where they’ve been or could possibly do.”
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