Football Practice Report: Nov. 23

Venue: Outdoor practice fields

Format: Full pads

A physical defense that makes points hard to come by, and an offense built around running the ball – yes, the basic formula sounds similar for the Ducks as they prepare for their regular-season finale.

A week after facing Utah – which is second in the Pac-12 in both rushing attempts per game and scoring defense – Oregon will play Saturday at Oregon State. The Beavers are the only team in the conference that rushes more often than the Utes, and OSU is third in the conference in scoring defense.

Through 11 games, Oregon State has run the ball 40.18 times per game, and given up 20.3 points per game. Utah runs the ball 39.91 times per game, and allows 20.0 points per game.

“They’re physical up front – a lot like Utah,” UO defensive lineman Taki Taimani said. “A lot of good players up there. It’s going to be exciting.”

Like Utah, Oregon State has found success with its formula. The Beavers enter Saturday’s rivalry game at 8-3, and at No. 21 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings.

OSU entered the season with a stable of backs, but in recent weeks Damien Martinez has emerged as the bell cow. Running behind one of the best offensive lines in the country, Martinez rushed for 138 yards and two touchdowns last week at Arizona State.

“They run hard, they run physical and they fall forward,” UO coach Dan Lanning said of OSU’s backs.

Oregon’s defensive front will be on alert.

“The biggest thing for us is setting the edge, for the OLBs,” said one of those UO outside linebackers, Mase Funa. “And the D line getting knock-backs.”

At quarterback, meanwhile, OSU has benefited from the emergence of Ben Gulbranson. The Beavers are 5-1 since he took over in early October; in wins over Cal and ASU the past two weeks, Gulbranson completed nearly 70 percent of his passes and rushed for a touchdown in each game.

So they Ducks won’t solely be able to focus on stopping the run Saturday. But they definitely respect the formula Oregon State has used to such effect this season.

Notable: After practice Thursday, the Ducks will have a Thanksgiving feast available in the Hatfield-Dowlin complex. Lanning said position coaches will then invite players over for Thanksgiving dinner at their houses. … In the post-practice huddle Wednesday, Lanning encouraged players to take time throughout the holiday weekend to offer thanks to those who’ve helped them in their lives.


Head coach Dan Lanning

On the nomination of offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham for the Broyles Award

“He’s done a great job in a leadership role, obviously, for the entire offense. And I think Kenny would be the first one to tell you, when you get those awards that’s really a credit to everybody on that side of the ball – every one of those players, every one of those coaches. But Kenny does a phenomenal job day in, day out, of preparing his side.”

On the job Steven Jones did mentoring younger players while sidelined due to injury before last week

“I’d hire him; he’s a good coach. When guys get injured, a lot of times it’s easy to get disconnected and not part of what’s going on. I thought Steven did a great job of being engaged, working every week to get back. As soon as he was able to go out there and help us on the field, he did. But even when he wasn’t able to help us on the field, he was making an impact in the way he was influencing guys.”

Post-practice interviews:

Head coach Dan Lanning

Junior defensive back Steve Stephens IV

Junior defensive lineman Taki Taimani

Junior outside linebacker Mase Funa

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