EUGENE — Mario Cristobal complimented nearly one-third of his players while noting that he was still forgetting a few others as he summed up Oregon’s closed football scrimmage Saturday night at Autzen Stadium.
Justin Herbert, Johnny Johnson Jaylon Redd, Mycah Pittman, Jacob Breeland and the group of running backs were mentioned on offense while Daewood Davis, Troy Dye, Gus Cumberlander, Jordon Scott, DJ James and La’Mar Winston were highlighted on defense along with Isaac Slade-Matautia, who had an interception.
“It was better than a typical first scrimmage because the guys have been around each other a little while,” Cristobal said. “From a cultural standpoint and understanding what we need to do to get better, we are making the right kind of progress.”
Oregon ran about 120 plays during its eighth practice of fall camp that wrapped up the first full week of practice.
Along with the compliments came a cautionary comment from Cristobal as the Ducks reached three weeks before opening the season against Auburn in Arlington, Texas.
“We’ve got a long ways to go now,” he said. “We are progressing and getting better, but the vision and standards for this program and where we want to be, we have miles to go. I told them that. To go where we want them to go, to go from 9-4 to keep progressing from there it is exponentially harder. We can’t get a little bit better and expect to improve when you are reaching the nine- or 10-win range. That doesn’t happen because everyone has gotten much better. It is hard to get there, but the commitment is strong. The awareness of what needs to be done is real.”
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With Oregon ranked No. 13 in the preseason coaches poll and a similar spot expected when the AP poll is released Aug. 19, the opener against Auburn — which is 16th in the coaches poll — provides an immediate picture of where the Ducks fit in the college football season.
“We have in our mindset 12 playoff opportunities, every single week is one,” Cristobal said. “Any game can knock you out at any time in the season and our guys treat it as such. The whole focus on the opponent, there is urgency and a complete awareness, nobody is denying there is a big game coming up. But I promise you our focus is completely on what we have to do.”
Deommodore Lenoir, a projected starter at cornerback, was held out of the scrimmage along with freshman safety Jamal Hill, but both are expected to return to practice Monday. Cam McCormick, who has been limited in early practices, participated and there were no serious injuries during the evening.
Cristobal said Saturday night he would be up late watching film of the scrimmage before reviewing it with his assistants Sunday morning.
“We will come in as an offensive and defensive staff and watch it respectively and I’ll watch it with both,” he said. “Go over details of how we are playing players, what depth chart and organizational chart moves we have got to make and what do we feel like we do real well. It is almost like the old Clint Eastwood movie ‘The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly’. We’ve got to find out what we are doing good, what not so good, and what is ugly and that has to be put away. It is really detailed, every single play is graded on performance and technique and effort too.”