Ducks back on practice field after trip to Porltand

After a successful road trip to Portland on Saturday where the Ducks held a controlled scrimmage in front of over a 1,000 fans, it was business as usual back at the Autzen Complex and on the Kilkenny Practice Fields. Prior to the start of practice, Head Coach Willie Taggart re-answered many of the same questions he was asked on Saturday.

The one constant that seems now to be a pat answer for Taggart is competition, especially between quarterbacks Justin Herbert and Travis Jonsen. On Saturday Herbert seemed to have the best day of all three quarterbacks (including freshman Braxton Burmeister) by hitting some good long passes to WRs Darren CarringtonMalik Lovette and tight end Jacob Breeland. However, Taggart thought that while he was happy with all the touchdowns during the practice on Saturday, there were still plenty of mistakes for the quarterbacks including Herbert to work on.

Taggart has also made a point of saying that it is nice to hit long passing plays, that it is also necessary to make sure the short passing game is capitalized -- that is that most of the completions in a game will come from short passes and that it is important for the QBs to recognize when those opportunities present themselves. Also, the development of the leaders on and off the field is part of the evaluation that Taggart and his coaches are making regarding the signal caller position.

On Saturday Taggart said that Herbert has been "coming out of his shell" and being more vocal with his teammates,and the headman is very excited how his three quarterbacks, especially Herbert and Jonsen have been pushing each other to get better.

There have also been a couple of other surprises on the defensive side of the ball. The competition in the secondary has heated up, particularly with the emergence of Thomas Graham, the true freshman that enrolled at Oregon for Winter Term and the play of redshirt freshman Brady Breeze. Both had solid outings on Saturday and spent most of the afternoon running with the No. 1s (starting unit) during the scrimmage.

Several questions were asked on Saturday and on Monday of Taggart about the defensive line of which Taggart acknowledge that it is a "work in progress."  Taggart believes that much progress will be made by the defense once the players fully grasp defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt's plan and of course are in the physical condition that the Ducks need the linemen to be to able to compete in the Pac-12.

So while Saturday was all about scrimmaging, on Monday the players were back in drills and working on the small tasks.

The Ducks will practice again on Wednesday. The annual spring game will be played on April 29, starting at 11 a.m. inside Autzen Stadium. The game will also be broadcast live on the Pac-12 Networks.

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