During Oregon’s second week of spring football practice, the Ducks special teams units took center stage on Tuesday inside of Autzen Stadium for their turn to impress long time position coach Tom Osborne.
Osborne, a 12 year member of the Oregon football coaching staff, put his young special teams players through situational drills in scrimmage like conditions to better evaluate his units and individual players during film study. “To give those guys live reps and get them some work and teach off the film for those guys is going to be invaluable” said Osborne after Tuesday’s workout.
The Ducks certainly have speed and talent in the punt and kick return game especially with the return of De’Anthony Thomas and Kenjon Barner. On Tuesday though, Osborne chose to evaluate nearly a dozen other players besides Thomas and Barner. “We get everybody involved” said Osborne. “We give all the young guys a chance. All the freshman that redshirted. All the new guys, incoming freshman,…starters, walk-ons,…we give them all shots.” Osborne gave special praise to speedsters Keanon Lowe, Ayele Ford and Dior Mathis.
With just six spring practices in the books, Osborne said he’s pleased with the effort and attention to detail his young players are giving to special teams. “They’re practicing hard” said Osborne. “Their energy levels been great,…you couldn’t ask for anything more from those guys. They’re attentive in the meetings and trying to do the right things in practice and they’re playing hard when their time comes.”
Osborne also addressed the postion of tight end for the Ducks. The Ducks lose veteran David Paulson to graduation and the NFL, but return sophomore Colt Lyerla, as well as Christian French and freshman ( early enrollee ) Evan Baylis. Although Lyerla saw significant playing time in 2011, Osborne says this group of tight ends is still young and inexperienced. “It’s a huge learning curve for each and every one of them” said Osborne. “Some guys will learn a little bit faster than others and some guys,… the pace that we go on offense and is still going through the conditioning phase.”