EUGENE - Oregon coach Willie Taggart and his team returned to work Monday two days after holding the first scrimmage of the spring on Saturday at Jesuit High School in Portland.
Review of video from that performance left Taggart both encouraged and still recognizing the long road ahead for a team that went 4-8 last season.
"We made improvement but I still feel like, 'oh Lord we still have a long ways to go,'" Taggart said.
And that's okay. Taggart didn't expect more than what he saw from his relatively young team that's in the process of learning new systems all the way around.
"We don't expect to be where we want to be right now," Taggart said. "We still have seven more practices after today and then we have training camp to get ready for a game."
The scrimmage demonstrated the Ducks' talent levels but also their inadequacies that must be corrected.
"We made some plays, we made some bad plays, we had some penalties," Taggart said. "We tackled some guys. We missed some tackles. Pretty much everything you would expect from a first scrimmage. You're going to have some ups and downs. But I thought, after watching it all, there's a lot of good things we can learn from and coach off of."
And that, in a nutshell, is what spring football is about.
"We have a lot of work to do," Taggart said.
Daily grades: Players are receiving daily grades from coaches on their performances and can review a daily depth chart that can prove to be both encouraging and disheartening. The end game is to illustrate cause and effect. They are daily reminders that every thing they do will be reflected in their grade and spot on the depth chart.
"We always want our guys to know where they stand," Taggart said. "You ask these guys to go out and work hard every single day and to not give them something they can read and hang their hat on is not right. If we're gong to have a moving depth chart then I think it's only right that you grade them each and every day. That way guys know where they stand each and every day and know what they need to improve on."
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Travis Jonsen said quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo has given him As, Bs and Cs so far this spring.
"All across the board, really," Jonsen said.
Players seem to like the daily feedback.
"That helps us out so next time we come out here we don't make the same mistakes," Jonsen said.
Backup QBs making plays: Taggart said he's been pleased with the playmaking abilities of Jonsen and freshman Braxton Burmeister, both trying to hunt down returning starter, sophomore Justin Herbert.
"It's been pretty good to watch Braxton and then Travis make plays with the 2s," Taggart said. "I think whenever you can go out and make something happen with the backups, you've got something going. I shouldn't say it's easy, but it's a little easier to go out and do it with the starting guys. But when you can go out and make some plays with guys that aren't on the starting group, I think that says a lot about you."
Coaches still learning: Oregon's new coaches are learning daily along with the players they are coaching.
Only two assistants, running backs coach Donte Pimpleton and special teams coordinator Raymond Woodie, came to UO with Taggart from South Florida. That means the rest of the staff is in their first spring with Taggart and thus must put on their student's caps just like the players.
"So often we talk about the players, but as coaches as well," he said. "A lot of these guys weren't with me at USF so our coaches are learning what we're trying to do from a practice standpoint."