On Monday, Brenden Schooler had surgery to repair a foot injury, and on Tuesday, UO coach Mario Cristobal said Schooler’s dedication to the Oregon football team was such that he was probably already jonesing to get into the weight room, and to start running routes again. That won’t be possible for a few weeks yet, but on Wednesday, Schooler made his coach look prescient. Two days after undergoing surgery, there Schooler was at UO preseason practice, exhorting his teammates on from the sideline and even walking with crutches onto the field to help coach guys up in drills. “It was good to see his face, see him smiling,” junior receiver Johnny Johnson III said. Schooler appeared to settle quickly and comfortably into a pseudo-coaching role, one he’ll fill for six-to-eight weeks while recovering from the injury, according to a timeline offered Tuesday by Cristobal. In the interim, Johnson and others will compete to pick up the reps Schooler had been getting with the first-team offense, until being injured Sunday. “For sure we lost a leader on the offense,” Johnson said. “But, you know, dudes are ready to step up. It’s always ‘next man up.’ ” Johnson was first in line to replace Schooler on the first unit Tuesday, playing with Juwan Johnson and Jaylon Redd on the No. 1 offense, and that continued Wednesday. The second group included Bryan Addison, Josh Delgado and Mycah Pittman, and they also figure to compete for reps in the wake of Schooler’s injury. “We’ve all really been pushing, trying to get a full, complete grasp of the playbook and get in there,” said Delgado, universally known among teammates as “Chachi,” a nickname bestowed by his grandmother, who is of Mexican descent. “So we can not only compete for the job but just help in general; if anybody goes down, someone can step in and they all work just like clockwork and not be a step off.” Like Schooler, Johnson is looking to bounce back from a season that, statistically, wasn’t at the level of the year before. But he’s not looking back this preseason. “Every day I take it as a new day,” Johnson said. “I’m not thinking about yesterday, or the next practice. “It’s just about stacking practices – coming out every day with that same energy, and moving with motivation and hunger. That’s our whole room; our motto is just to stay hungry and stack practices. That doesn’t change because (Schooler) is out. I think it just makes us even more hungry.” Practice highlights: With the Ducks in full pads for the first time, practice began with an Oklahoma drill. Offensively, tight ends Jacob Breeland and Hunter Kampmoyer had solid reps, and Pittman won a battle. Freshman defensive linemen Kristian Williams and Brandon Dorlus both held up well, and there was a spirited battle between top recruits Jonah Tauanu’u and Kayvon Thibodeaux. Delgado got the best of Steve Stephens but Stephens won a rematch, so Cristobal lined them up for a tiebreaker in which Stephens again probably had the edge. … Pittman and Kahlef Hailassie had some really spirited battles all day. They matched up in the Oklahoma drill and had a couple very physical reps against each other in a 3-on-2 perimeter passing and blocking drill. … The first 11-on-11 period was really back and forth. Troy Dye met Darrian Felix at the line to stop a run play, but Justin Herbert got the offense going with explosion plays to Juwan Johnson and Johnny Johnson III, who made a leaping catch near the goal line while matched up with cornerback Thomas Graham Jr. Tyler Shough had a beautiful completion to JR Waters while throwing on the run, while Jamal Hill had a diving interception near the sideline for his daily highlight. … Later in the same period, the defense lost contain and Cyrus Habibi-Likio got to the edge for a big run. Moments later, though, the defenders set the edge, Habibi-Likio cut back inside and Isaac Slade-Matautia met him at the line. … In the red zone, CJ Verdell had a touchdown run aided by a block from Juwan Johnson on the perimeter. Pittman also had a touchdown in that drill, on a pass from Shough. … Near the end of practice with the threes on the field, Mase Funa forced a fumble and DJ James recovered for a scoop-and-score touchdown. Other observations: During kickoff return drills, the deep men for the first rep were Redd and Felix. Ge’mon Eaford was with the first unit, for the second day in a row. … Pittman, Delgado and Jevon Holland fielded punts in those drills. Sean Dollars was in the mix as a member of the return group. … Former UO head coach Mike Bellotti and defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti were on hand for practice.

Related Posts