Venue: Outdoor practice fields
On the defensive line, Oregon returned a plethora of talent for the 2022 season. Brandon Dorlus and Popo Aumavae both considered entering this year’s NFL Draft before opting to remain with the Ducks, returning to a defensive line meeting room that included other familiar names including Keyon Ware-Hudson, Sua’ava Poti, Keanu Williams and more.
Then, the rich got richer. To that mix the Ducks added even more veteran experience this offseason. Taki Taimani joined the team as a transfer in the spring, and both Casey Rogers and Jordon Riley further enhanced the depth up front when preseason camp began last week.
The new faces are blending in seamlessly with all the returning vets.
“Those guys have been nothing but amazing,” Rogers said. “The connections I’ve already gained with these guys – I haven’t been happier in college. I absolutely love it here, and it’s 100 percent because of the room we have here.”
Rogers and Riley have reunited in Eugene after transferring from Nebraska – where their position coach was Tony Tuioti, who now coaches the defensive line at Oregon. Rogers and Riley are two more big bodies for Tuioti to employ up front, and also two guys who know well Tuioti’s expectations.
“We kind of let them run the defensive drills, just because they’ve been with him and they know his standards,” Taimani said. “And then we follow behind, because they know what he wants. It’s been helpful having them here.”
Taimani is putting his experience to use with his new team, too. Recently, UO coach Dan Lanning said, he walked into Oregon’s team meeting room and found players gathered without their coaches. They were discussing areas for improvement, and the conversation was being led by veteran safety Bryan Addison, and also Taimani, who only got to Oregon earlier this year.
“I think that speaks to the character of the players on our team, when they’re having those conversations without us in there,” Lanning said. “(Taimani) has done a really good job. He wants to raise his standard of play.
“The thing we want to recognize is, sometimes you’re afraid to be a leader and afraid to say things because you’re like, ‘Well, I make mistakes.’ And the reality is, I make mistakes – coaches make mistakes. The players make mistakes. What we’ve got to do is own them, but still be willing to call people out and get better. And Taki’s done a good job of that.”
Tuioti, meanwhile, “is like a father figure to me,” said Rogers, a regular on the defensive line at Nebraska the last two years and also a three-time academic all-conference selection. Opting to play for Tuioti again at Oregon, Rogers said, “was a no-brainer.”
A surgery following last season sidelined Rogers during the spring. So he has been relishing the chance to practice the first five days of this preseason camp, with his new teammates at Oregon.
“It’s nice to get my feet back under me, start striking pads again and get back in the trenches,” Rogers said. “It’s been really fun.”
Notable: Practices this preseason have been highly energetic, but Lanning wants to see that energy focused the right way. Tuesday he ended up delivering a message to the Ducks about what that should look like. “There’s a lot of ‘compete’ out there,” Lanning said afterward. “One thing we talk to our team about is controlled aggression. Football is meant to be played a certain way. Sometimes we get ramped up and we’re attacking each other; we gotta realize that doesn’t help us win football games. We gotta take it out in between the whistles – really control that.” …
Speaking of “compete,” Lanning scripted a period of one-on-one competition reps early in Tuesday’s practice. He lauded the job freshman offensive lineman Josh Conerly Jr. did in his rep; the period also featured some nice receptions by the tight end group, and a pass broken up in the end zone by Avante Dickerson. … The Ducks on Wednesday will have their first day off since the start of preseason camp, followed by the first practice of camp in full pads Thursday.
Head coach Dan Lanning
On better sustained effort during practices since the first day of camp
“I think our conditioning’s kicked up. Our guys have done a good job. Today I thought some of our hardest running took place in the last 10 minutes of practice, which is always a benefit.”
On how the program will utilize the day off from practice Wednesday
“Organization with the coaches. You still get the opportunity to get in front of guys and have some meetings set up. So, really to me it’s, go back and assess what we’ve done already – evaluate that. (And) charge the batteries; make sure that we’re fresh for our players as well. I think that’s really important. People don’t get enough sleep here in fall camp; people stay up here until 1 a.m. That’s not what we need as coaches or as players. So we’ll hit the reset button, make sure we’re doing a good job pushing that forward, evaluate what we’ve done already and then assess what we need to keep pushing from an install standpoint.”
Head coach Dan Lanning
Junior defensive lineman Taki Taimani
Junior defensive lineman Casey Rogers
Redshirt freshman linebacker Jackson LaDuke