Oregon coach Mario Cristobal referenced a classic Clint Eastwood western after Saturday night’s 120-play scrimmage at Autzen Stadium.

In that spirit, a look at the good, bad and ugly for the Ducks after the first full week of fall camp:

The Good

Even though the program had three different head coaches from 2016-18, Cristobal and his staff have been able to fortify the roster on the recruiting trail. All 85 scholarships are spoken for entering the 2019 season, and the improved depth is showing up in camp.

Oregon’s offensive line returns all five starters, including four-year stalwarts Shane Lemieux (left guard), Jake Hanson (center) and Calvin Throckmorton (right tackle).

Sophomore left tackle Penei Sewell will also start throughout his career when healthy. Dallas Warmack and Brady Aiello are rotating at right guard.

Offensive line coach Alex Mirabal said Oregon has “seven or eight” offensive linemen that could start for any Pac-12 team.

That doesn’t mean the unit isn’t being pushed during camp as the Ducks prepare for an opener against Auburn, which has arguably the nation’s top defensive line.

“Experience is what happened in the past. It’s about what you do now and going forward,” Mirabal said. “We’re coaching them just as hard as the guys that just got here.”

There is also quality depth at running back, where CJ Verdell and Travis Dye — who combined for 342 carries, 1,757 yards and 14 touchdowns as freshmen — are being challenged by fellow sophomores Darrian Felix and Cyrus Habibi-Likio.

“All four of those guys you’d be happy with,” running backs coach Jim Mastro said.

The Ducks are excited about the future for true freshmen Sean Dollars and Jayvaun Wilson, but Mastro notes that only the top two performers during any given week of practice are guaranteed touches in games.

Defensive line coach Joe Salave’a suddenly has a very crowded room of big bodies to compete with the offensive line on a daily basis.

There are reliable regulars (Jordon Scott, Andrew Faoliu, Drayton Carlberg) and raw talents who seem ready to play as freshmen (Kayvon Thibodeaux, Brandon Dorlus, Keyon Ware-Hudson).

“Man, that’s the beauty of it all. These guys are bigger and faster than I was at this point of my college career,” Salave’a said of his touted 2019 class. “I won’t put a roof on it. There are some tremendous abilities those guys have. Right now we’ve just got a starting point and go from there. Stay tuned.”

 

Senior defensive end Gus Cumberlander and senior outside linebacker Bryson Young believe they will leave on a high note in Andy Avalos’ system after being afterthoughts under some of the program’s previous defensive coordinators.

“I feel like everybody has a good chance to definitely step up and bring it up another notch this year,” Cumberlander said.

The fact that Justin Herbert hasn’t been mentioned a lot in post-practice media scrums is another good sign for Oregon. The four-year starting quarterback’s steady play is a given at this point.

The reticent 6-foot-6, 237-pound potential Heisman Trophy candidate and projected first-round pick will be back in the spotlight soon enough.

“I had a feeling he was going to come back. Look at the opportunity,” Felix said of Herbert’s decision to return for his senior season instead of leaving for the NFL. “It’s an opportunity, not just the media hyping us up, but we know in ourselves what we can do. Just by him coming back, it gives us belief that we are what we say we are.”

The Bad

Starting cornerback Deommodore Lenoir was held out of the Ducks’ first major scrimmage on Saturday with an undisclosed injury.

Oregon needs Lenoir, the highest ranked recruit from the 2017 recruiting class, and fellow starter Thomas Graham, to lock down coverage on their sides of the field in Avalos’ attacking scheme.

There is not much of experience behind the duo with true freshmen Mykael Wright and DJ James and redshirt freshman Verone McKinley trying to get up to speed. Former wide receiver Daewood Davis had a strong performance in the scrimmage, and well-traveled senior Haki Woods is in the mix to be the nickel.

“You see flashes here, flashes there, but we have a lot of defense in and it’s a learning curve for those guys,” cornerbacks coach Dante Williams said. “The biggest thing is consistency.”

The on-field competition at safety is solid with the return of Jevon Holland, Nick Pickett and Brady Breeze. Freshman Trikweze Bridges has been getting time at safety and cornerback. Freshman Jamal Hill was held out of the scrimmage due to injury.

There are some talented players at the position group, but replacing Ugo Amadi’s production and leadership will not be easy.

“They’re going to have to do that on their own,” safeties coach Keith Heyward said. “We try to coach guys up and bring along those leaders. You try to identify those guys who have those qualities. You can’t force leadership on anyone. They have to want to be that and want to take ownership of that.

“Because when you’re a leader, you’ve got to make sure your backyard is clean first before you go barking at somebody else for their stuff.”

New linebackers coach Ken Wilson is also trying to identify reliable backups at the inside positions behind Troy Dye, Isaac Slade-Matautia and Sampson Niu.

Junior college transfer Dru Mathis, redshirt freshman MJ Cunningham and true freshman Ge’Mon Eaford have some work to do.

“Well, we’ve got bodies out there. They’re big, they’re athletic guys. What we’re trying to do now is get the trust to get them on the field,” Wilson said. “We’re on a fast learning curve here, we’ve got a lot of stuff, and the better they learn it, the more they play. And the harder they play, the more guys I can get out in the rotation.”

The Ugly

Dropped passes don’t seem to be plaguing the offense quite as badly as during the 2018 season, but the glaring issue is still a work in progress.

Losing senior wide receiver and special teams standout Brenden Schooler to a foot injury for two months was an ominous beginning for a group trying to replace Dillon Mitchell’s 75 receptions, 1,184 yards and 10 touchdowns.

“He’s a leader of my group. You talk about special teams, the value he brings to this team is monumental,” wide receiver coach Jovon Bouknight said of Schooler. “We need to pick up the slack, and the next guy needs to be ready to roll.”

Cristobal praised the efforts of Johnny Johnson, Mycah Pittman, Bryan Addison and Jaylon Redd after Saturday’s scrimmage.

Penn State graduate transfer Juwan Johnson, a 6-foot-4 senior, is also expected to be a popular target of Herbert’s this fall.

Another potential option for Herbert in the passing game, tight end Cam McCormick, has been physically limited early in camp but participated in the scrimmage. The 6-5 junior earned the starting spot a year ago before breaking his leg in the opener.

“That board is shuffling a lot coming into the first game,” Bouknight said of experimenting with the inside and outside receiver combinations. “Right now trying to develop some unity in the group, some consistency.”

Oregon will return to the field Monday to begin the second full week of fall camp. The showdown with Auburn is looming Aug. 31 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas (4:30 p.m., ABC).