Eugene, Ore. -- There has been a massive buzz around Eugene ahead of Oregon's annual Spring Game at Autzen Stadium. Whether it's the push on social media, the honoring of Duck men's and women's basketball at the game or the multitude of four and five star recruits on hand for visits, April 20th promises something for everyone. But don't be fooled by the light-hearted energy around the weekend, it's all business.
"The spring game can never be something that's taken lightly," says head coach Mario Cristobal. "It can't be something that's just kind of a dress rehearsal. It is not. it is not, it is extra day of work. It is the 15th practice that the ncaa grants us, and we will use it."
The format will be different from last season's Spring Game, in which the offense and defense were split off and matched up. This year, the teams were picked by the staff and split into 'Mighty Oregon' and the 'Fighting Ducks'.
"We didn't have a draft," Cristobal explains. "We're making sure that we put our best against our best. We want to get something out of it. We've used some different formats that maybe I've kinda allowed myself to get talked into. We're not gonna do that."
There will similarly be added star power to the game as well, from the sideline to the field itself. Quarterback Justin Herbert is a known commodity, being the Ducks entrenched starter and offensive centerpiece. But fans will also get to see bits and pieces of the Ducks 2019 five-star signee Kayvon Thibodeaux, who enrolled early and has been participating in spring practices with the team. The no. 1 QB in the 2020 recruiting class, five star D.J. Uiagalelei will also be in attendance along with over 20 top ranked recruits.
As much as it is a recruiting weekend, however, position coaches, like D-Line coach Joe Salave'a, want to see a certain level of performance from their players in the scrimmage and drills out on the field.
"We're always stressing the technique," says Salave'a. "Technique, techinique, but a technique is a byproduct of the fundamentals. If those things are not lined up, it won't be a sharp look from the excecution standpoint. So we've been just working on just the little detail. The footwork, the eye discipline, and those things. and you know those are some of the things, and of course the max speed. We've got to be flying around, and that's what we're looking for to see."
Oregon's Spring Game kicks off at 2:00 p.m. at Autzen Stadium.