I am not a “professional,” per se, as I refuse to write the usual “blah-blah” that you’ll see from other media outlets, but then that is why this site began. I wanted more information, and to learn — and our readers have agreed. This Oregon Football Media day was like going down memory lane … in how similar it was to my old “Fish Report” scrimmage updates written years ago.
Wandering among the players I heard the usual stock answers we all nod at, but I wanted to see if I could get some good ol’ football gossip that we used to have when I was allowed to go to practices. The day had the classic sunshine of August with the golden hues, set with a background of screechy ospreys. Just as I remembered it!
Devon Allen and I talked about how he might be in one of the highest celebrity strata of any player ever for the Ducks who had not played a down for Oregon football yet. I’m not sure that the hype was this big for even DeAnthony Thomas, since DAT had not been watched in practices, but everyone has watched the incredible NCAA Track Championship that Allen won.
His father told me how he taught Devon “to work hard and stay humble,” and that is precisely what I saw in this likeable, polite young man. Did you know he has a twin sister Carissa? She is a college volleyball player at Phoenix College and likes to tell everyone that he is the “baby” of the family because she was born seven hours before him!
We talked about his speed, and what DID he think he could run the 100 meters in now? “Well, my start is much better with the coaching I got in Oregon track, and I did run a 10.40 in high school. I think I could go between 10.10 to 10.20!” Holy Crap! When Sammy Parker came to Oregon, he began running in the 10.50s and brought it down, but Devin could be doing in the 10.15 range right now?
We talked about how Marcus Mariota has a nice long ball and he looked forward to seeing it, but he was just as happy as the outside “X” or “Z” receiver running the streak to open up the middle for his teammates. It is one thing to read how a player has high character, but it is another thing to see it in his eyes. We Oregon fans are very fortunate, indeed.
Dior Mathis explained how his first love was track! Later he added football and has being doing the two since he was nine years old. I asked about how difficult it must be taking on the best blocking WRs in college football and he said he liked the challenge. “When we face other teams? It is easy defeating their blocks and making the tackle in run support. Our WRs make me better.”
Dior will be in the game a lot due to the three or four special teams he’s on, or playing at nickel back, or as the starter at corner. He told me that “people are going to be shocked with this year’s defense.” Coming from a senior who has been through a ton of great seasons and bowls — that bears remembering. Hmmmm.
Tyson Coleman has a nice smile and engaging eyes, with sincerity in his tone. He plays on many special teams, likes it and feels he’ll be in the “every six” play rotation at OLB. I asked about watching for crack-back blocks by the WRs, and he told me that, “you gotta have your head on a swivel and looking around. My first kickoff special teams — I got slammed to four lanes away because I didn’t see the guy turn back on me. You learn quick to be watching everywhere when on Special Teams and playing defense.”
He looked at me confidently and smiled and told me that “no one surprises me now. It was my introduction to college football as as freshman.” The native Oregonian is up to 236 lbs., now, and looking like a tiger caged and ready to tackle; I liked the vibe I got from him concerning his playing time on defense. It’s his turn, baby!
You gotta love Johnny Mundt, as he and I talked about from where he hailed. It turns out I presented Planned Giving Workshops in Mundt’s hometown of Modesto in the summer years ago in my regular job. I remembered how hot it gets and he told me that it was 106 degrees the day he left! The 90 degrees in Eugene now was “cool” to him – wow!
He’s got long hair on him now, and it actually looks good on him (OK … that is the ’70s in me talking). I told him how we were a site that liked to analyze how the Tight Ends were crucial in their seal blocks as they “blocked down” on the Defensive End or Outside Linebacker to secure the corner.
Despite being told by TE coach Tom Osborne that he has great hands catching the football, “it’s a great feeling to knock a defender down inside and we run outside for a big gain.” As an old offensive lineman, I almost had to wipe a tear as, yeah … I understand. It feels great and he loves helping the team. He’s gone from 238 to 250 lbs., and his shoulders are wide, and the character stands just as tall as his 6’4″ frame. Break-out year for Mundt? I’d bet on it.
I connected immediately with Tyler Johnstone as he did see the analysis I had of him besting the No. 9 pick in the NFL Draft in a recent Fish Report done by yours truly and the Grizzled Ol’ Coach, Mike Morris. He loved it and stuck his hand out in friendship as he knew that we offensive linemen have a kinship.
We talked about the UCLA game and I mentioned how he tired out Anthony Barr by mid-third quarter. His face lit up and said, “Yes, and I even pushed him 10 yards on a play!” I told him that I recall that play in how he pushed him left to right and buried him down and across the field! “That’s the play!” he said.
I mentioned how the Grizzled Ol’ Coach loves his footwork and how he pointed it out often in our study of his play. “You know what is interesting? I came here with big strides,” and he demonstrated his original natural big steps. ”Then Coach Greatwood drilled in how those first two small steps … boom-boom, made the block successful.”
It was evident how Tyler appreciated what he learned and how he used it to defeat an All-American. He was so well spoken, and took time to show me the steps … it felt like he was done doing the ”canned” stuff with the other media and now wanted to talk real football. It made me proud to have studied him; he is a student of the game and appreciates his blessings. This is the “real” Oregon, my friends!
I didn’t know what I was in for when I sidled up close to Torrodney Prevot to talk football with him. This young man has the most magnetic smile and his eyes gleam when he is funnin’ you and he is someone you would love to spend time with. He took great delight in making an old fat man laugh his guts out, and I swear some media guys were shooting video of us having several laughs.
On the serious side — he played at 205 lbs. last year but now is at 230 lbs? He looked strong and ripped, yet I sensed the jaguar with all the pent-up speed. ”I’m the fastest guy on the defense,” he declared. I don’t think that is true, but he said it with such confidence that you would hesitate to doubt him. “I can run a 4.50 at this weight … you’ll see. I can hold up as a run defender much better and my speed is still there.” His confidence is unshakeable, and I would believe him.
What was it like going up against Johnstone and Jake Fisher? ”I learned so much from them … and I got them on some plays, but they are pretty good and it was great practice taking them on.” What was the smallest detail you learned that made a huge difference? He told me to “watch the eyes of the tackles when they come to the LOS. When they glance at my hands? They are worried about pass-blocking me. When they eye my torso … they are preparing for run-blocking!” Whoa … now that is a high level insight that you just don’t learn every day. This young man is a hoot … but he is a serious student at becoming the best football player he can.
We got to talking about his speed … his sprinting. I pointed out that it is only a seven-yard path to the QB; he observed that with some of these offensive tackles — it turns into 15 yards! (I’m laughing) Then …”you know when the snake gets the big mouse … he shakes it around and by the time I bring down the QB … it is 20 yards total!” The way he tells the story and his facial expressions just made me almost die laughing … yet, he is serious — in his own unique way!
Then we talk about his track career in high school … and he tells me that the first race he was winning was the 800 meters! You’re kidding me — that is a terrible race! “Oh, man … it is, so I’d hang with the pack and then blast off with 100 meters to go.” The way he tells the story makes me giggle even now, and yet it was sincere. That is something no one would have guessed – that this now-230-lb. budding defensive star began a track career running the 800 meters! I’m still wrapping my mind around that — and his explanation. Torrodney … keep that smile – you make it fun for all of us!
As you can tell … I gleaned a ton of tidbits; some were helpful in gauging the team, while others were just plain interesting and fun. It was just like old times — getting the football gossip that we all love, while admiring the intellect and character of this Oregon football team.
“Oh how we love to learn about our beloved Ducks!”
Charles Fischer (FishDuck)
Oregon Football Analyst for CFF Network/FishDuck.com
Top Photo of Charles Fischer & Devon Allen by Craig Strobeck