Pellum Calls First Day in Pads "Typical"

The Oregon Ducks wore pads for the first time this spring. Don Pellum addressed the media after practice and was ask about the first day in pads and while he was supporting his players, his praise was tempered by the fact it is still early in the training process.

NCAA regulations require the first two days of a 15-day practice session must be conducted without contact so the first day in pads marks the first opportunity players have hitting and being hit.

“I think the effort was good,” commented Oregon defensive coordinator Don Pellum. “The execution was not what you’d like; typical of a first day in pads.”

Pellum believes the 2015 Duck defense is still forming its identity. Gone from last year are Arik Armstead and Tony Washington from the defensive front. Derrick Malone has also departed along with Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Erick Dargan, Troy Hill and Dior Mathis in the secondary. Most of the questions today though were about the defensive front. Specifically, who is going to fill in the void left by Armstead and Washington? Pellum quickly pointed out that Tui Talia, Austin Maloata and T.J. Daniel are all stepping up from their roles last year.

Another player’s progression that reporters wanted to know was former 5-star high school All-American, Canton Kaumatule. The step up for a player to the Pac-12 from high school is a big one, so Pellum clearly soft-pedaled his responses so that while his answers were supportive of the player, the answers also reveal each new player has a lot of ground to cover before the first game kicks off next fall.

“The nice thing about Canton is that he is big, he’s strong and he wants to learn,” Pellum said of former Kaumatule. “We’ll have to evaluate at the end of the spring how well he transitions because we’ve asked him to do some things he didn’t have to do in high school, but he has the potential to be really, really good.”

One of the upsides of spring football is that everyone gets a lot of practice repetitions as the coaches continually rotate players because during the season the first team will get the majority of reps then the second and third strings. As the echelons drop, so are the numbers of practice repetitions players get.

A player who definitely will be a factor next fall, but won’t play in the spring game is senior defensive end DeForest Buckner. Last season, Buckner was Oregon’s fourth leading tackler on the team, and leader of the defensive front with 81 total tackles including 36 solos, 13 tackles for loss of which four were sacks. He also had four pass break-ups, four pass deflections and three quarterback hurries, though many Pac-12 quarterbacks might say Buckner was also a leader in scaring the daylights out them.

However, there won’t be any discussion of his on-field plays in the 2015 spring game.

Buckner is recovering from a scoping procedure done prior to spring workouts and will not participate in contact for the rest of the spring. However, he is helping out in other ways as he has been acting as a coach in giving tips to younger players who do not have the same level of experience.

According to Pellum, one of Mark Helfrich’s rules is that if a player is not able to perform in a game then the player will help coaching teammates.

Presumably, much of Buckner’s student-coaching time will be spent helping Kaumatule out this spring.

Oregon will hold three practices again next week, though will start on Monday and hold practice on Wednesday and Friday also.

The Ducks will hold the annual spring game on May 4, 2015 at Autzen Stadium with kickoff scheduled for 11 a.m.

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