For sure, the Spring Game is a practice session, but it is an opportunity for the team to perform in front of a live audience -- and that crowd could be very large!
Taggart believes he has seen his team improve during spring and that is a good sign for fans and followers of Oregon football. After suffering through a 4-8 season last year, the noticeable upbeat in the practices has been Taggart and his coaches hopeful for what may come this fall.
""I think we've made a lot of improvement over all on the field, coaches and players," said Taggart of the progress his team has made this spring. "Improvement every day, I'm excited on where we are at."
The headman isn't saying that the Ducks are where they need to be at as far as being competitive and winning real football teams as there have been a lot of mistakes, but he points out that there "have been a lot of positives too." While not being precise as to what the mistakes are, he is clear that each day the players have learned and are eliminating the mistakes.
As far as the draft for the final workout goes, Taggart said he heard a little "trash talking" from the players as they were assigned the the two spring rosters. This of course is a good sign in Taggart's mind because it breeds competition -- something he and his coaching staff have encouraged all spring long. Competition, even in the friendly confines of an inter-squad scrimmage has a purpose.
"It's all fun, but of course we want to get better, it's still about competing," revealed Taggart to his methods. "They (the players) are still being evaluated."
Taggart also admitted he wasn't exactly sure who was drafted where, and while both teams think they have the best players, it has been Taggart's experience that in inter-squad games, it comes down to the best team, not the necessarily the best players. That means who will be the guys that can quickly adapt to other's strength and weaknesses. No doubt the play book for both the offense and defense will be greatly scaled back from what will be shown when the team starts playing real games. The coaches don't want to show their hand as to what they intend to do next year but what the coaches want to see is just how cohesive players are with each other.
That was clearly a problem with the 2016 team and led to the end of the Mark Helfrich-era at Oregon. Players were not in sync with teammates especially on defense. This spring game will be a great opportunity for observers to see that important element -- team work. It really doesn't matter if the Ducks are running a 3-4 defense or a 4-3 scheme, what matters is how the players execute and they react to each other. Fans often will speculate and over-analyze formations just like they would do in a computer game, but on the field, dealing people, it is much different and that is why Taggart has spoken so often about building relationships not only between the coaches and players but among the athletes as well.
Taggart also pointed out that playing in front of a crowd brings out something else. The coach said that sometime there players who have problems playing in front of a crowd,and that is something he wants to identify, because if a player can't perform in front of a crowd, then then that will be a huge problem during the regular season.
If we look at what happened over the last two seasons, we saw players looked uncomfortable in live action. Passes were missed, snapped what catapulted way over the quarterback's head, missed tackles and blocks, penalties; the list goes on and on.
This spring, while much media attention will be given to how the teams are composed, what will be essential for followers who want to gauge how this team will be in 2017 is watching the cohesiveness of the players.
Football is still a team sport and what Taggart and his staff's main objective during this spring has been to create a team from the ground up.
Practice on Saturday will start at 11 a.m. and the spring game will be carried live on the Pac-12 Networks.