UO release – Preseason camp for the Oregon football team begins Friday, and head coach Mario Cristobal’s expectations for what the month of August will hold are commensurate with the talent and experience on hand for the Ducks this season. “What we expect out of this group,” Cristobal said Tuesday during his first preseason press conference for local media, “is the most competitive camp we’ve had.” The foundation of that sentiment is two-fold. For one thing, the Ducks are brimming with enthusiasm for a more normal 2021 season, following the 2020 campaign that was abbreviated due to the COVID pandemic. Cristobal said the program had “a very challenging offseason, a very demanding one, that has pushed the players – and that they have responded well to.” The prospect of having fans back in Autzen Stadium was mentioned numerous times Tuesday by Cristobal and his players, as they anticipated the start of game action at home against Fresno State on Sept. 4. The other reason for Cristobal’s optimism at what is about to unfold in August is apparent with a quick glance at the roster. The Ducks return elite veterans on both sides of the ball, including defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, running back CJ Verdell and linebacker Noah Sewell. And there are talented young players about to experience their first preseason camp, such as receiver Troy Franklin, safety Daymon David and quarterback Ty Thompson. “I just think talent acquisition and player development has taken its course,” Cristobal said. Added receiver Johnny Johnson III: “We have a lot of depth everywhere. That gives us the ability to compete a lot more. That’ll do nothing but make us better, because iron sharpens iron.” A year of virtual meetings, workouts in small groups and meals taken to-go rather than eaten as a team gave way to more a more typical offseason the last few months. Cristobal has always prided himself on the culture in the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex, and players said they’re on solid footing in that area thanks to time spent together this offseason. “Being a close-knit group like we are, I think that’s going to help us out a lot,” safety Verone McKinley III said. By rule the Ducks will be able to conduct 25 practices over 29 days beginning Friday, including two scrimmages. The ramp-up in contact from Friday to the first day in full pads has been extended from five days to seven by the NCAA.

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