Freshman defensive back D'Jimon Jones (5-11, 185) donned a No. 9 jersey and lined up at quarterback for the scout team against the starting defense for most of the day. Jones (pictured above on the left) played QB in high school rushing for nearly 400-yards and four touchdowns while completing 31 of 61 passes for 561-yards, eight TD's and three interceptions. He appears to have the skill set to play Pac-12 ball.
The young man from Federal Way showed freakish skills running the ball, burning the defense more than a handful of times for long runs. He also showed incredible arm strength as he roped in a few tight passes. I definitely think that the offensive coaches should take a serious look at his tape from Wednesday’s practice because he was extremely impressive.
When Jones was taking snaps for the scouts the defense was forced to reload a ton of plays. Defensive coordinator Alex Grinch, along with his assistants, walked through assignments repeatedly so each defender understood how and what to do against this style of offense.
It wasn’t an easy day for the Cougs on offense either.
Luke Falk looked great for the first half of practice, then reverted to more of the same from the past three games. Holding the ball for more than four seconds seemed like an every down occurrence.
At one point after Falk was intercepted by Justus Rogers with the scouts, causing the offense to reload the same play four times in a row. I could hear Mike Leach all the way on the opposite side of the practice field screaming, “Throw the ball!”.
After the interception by Rogers, Falk found Isaiah Johnson-Mack and put the ball right in his hands – only to be dropped. The next play Falk was sacked. All of that was against the scout team.
Despite the spotty, rusty play there were still many positives that I took away from Wednesday's session.
Here are some practice highlights and other observations:
- Falk hit River Cracraft on the first two plays of 7-on-7 for big gains.
- Robert Lewis pulled in an impressive sideline catch with Jalen Thompson all over him.
- Robert Taylor made three cuts during a kickoff return and took it the distance.
- Darrien Molton intercepted an over-thrown pass from Falk intended for Kyle Sweet.
- Tavares Martin caught a short pass and went untouched for about 40-yards against the scouts.
- James Williams was very involved in the offense, getting plenty of carries and targets through the air.
- Sweet caught a deep pass near the sideline in the red zone. It was a great throw and catch from Falk to the second-year sophomore receiver.
- Linebackers Peyton Pelluer (MIKE) and Isaac Dotson (WILL) looked very disciplined in covering their gaps against zone blocking offense typical of Oregon's offense.
- Special teams had extra time to work on drills, walk-through their plays, and also run full speed reps.
- Coach Joe Salave'a worked with the defensive line in between periods and after practice to focus on technique, hands, footwork, and physicality.
- Playing with the scout kickoff return team, true freshman Skyler Thomas had a big return against the first string coverage team. He looked extremely fast and explosive.
- C.J. Dimry caught a pair of deep balls from both Falk and Tyler Hilinski.
- Nose Tackle Robert Barber looks like the most dominant D-lineman as far as holding his ground and being violent with his hands.
- Mason Vinyard recorded a sack against the starting offensive unit when running with the scout team.