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Cristobal: Anthony Brown, Ty Thompson & Jay Butterfield all 'progressing' originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest
For the first time since November 2019, the Oregon Ducks played college football in front of fans at Autzen Stadium... well, sort of.
Oregon allowed fans to watch Saturday's practice in full two Saturdays ahead of the annual Spring Game, which the program announced will allow live attendance up to 15% capacity.
Saturday's scrimmage began with positional drills for the first half, before going to 7-on-7 and a live scrimmage to end the session.
After the event, Mario Cristobal spoke with the media recapping his thoughts.
"The offense started really strong and they didn't let up," said the Ducks head coach.
He added previous practices were more equal between the offense and defense, however "the defense did have its moments." This was also the first live tackling session for the team since the Fiesta Bowl and the players' first with Tim DeRuyter calling the plays while Joe Moorhead is in year two of his install.
On the first play from scrimmage, CJ Verdell ran a 67-yard touchdown to the house and Anthony Brown looked poised in the pocket, helping lead a few more touchdown drives, too, with the ones.
"It started with play number one. Boom. CJ hit a big one and got the offense rolling," added Cristobal.
"I thought Anthony Brown continues to get a really good grasp of the offense. Making good plays and good decisions for the most part," said Cristobal.
"He's certainly progressing and progressing well."
From watching the scrimmage, it seemed pretty clear this is Anthony Brown's job to lose with him taking all the reps with the ones, as Cristobal has mentioned in previous media availabilities.
Brown has one season of college eligibility remaining which means 2021 will likely be a redshirt season for three talented freshmen.
Robby Ashford took a few reps during 7-on-7, but Cristobal said he tweaked his ankle Thursday when a lineman stepped on it, and the team decided to be cautious with him. Ashford wore the headset and helped signal offensive play calls during the live scrimmage.
"Some of these lineman, they're some big ol ' heavy dudes. He got stomped on pretty good," described Cristobal.
With Ashford on the sidelines during the live portion of practice, when the twos and threes were in, freshmen Ty Thompson and Jay Butterfield largely split reps, both impressing at points.
"They made plays today," recalled Cristobal. "They made big plays, big throws... Those two are battling really hard and so is Robby."
Butterfield completed a deep ball to Kris Hudson on a go-route late in the scrimmage and Thompson had a streak at one point of multiple, chain-moving completions.
The surrounding talent for them is always changing as they split reps.
'We're mixing and matching those guys with twos and threes at the receiver, at tight end, at the offensive line," said Cristobal.
While the 5-star quarterback is still adjusting to the college game in his first spring scrimmage, Cristobal thinks he has what it takes to be great.
"Ty's about as talented a freshman you'll see."
It wasn't all great for the freshmen on Saturday, though. The defense did win some reps.
"What would they like to have back?" said Cristobal. "Understanding protections. Five, six, seven-man protections are all different. Knowing where their protection is and where not. Knowing they got to get rid of the ball, knowing they got to keep it and tuck it and run. Those are things that will come on time."
That they will and the Ducks have a long ways to go before officially declaring Brown the starter for Oregon's opener against Fresno State.
"We feel that they are progressing to make this a real competitive situation, but they're gonna help us win football games this year."
Ducks fans will get to see the quarterbacks again when Oregon hosts its annual spring game on Saturday, May 1st at 2:00 p.m. PT.