By Austin Meek

The (Eugene) Register-Guard

It is not spring, and it was barely football.

That does not mean Mario Cristobal was any less fired up to see the 2019 Ducks on the practice field for the first time.

“You can tell I’m really excited about the first day,” Cristobal said after Oregon’s first football workout of the spring on Saturday. “I’ve got to temper it down a little bit because we were running around out there in P.E. uniforms. You’ve got a helmet on and a jersey and some shorts.”

Even without pads, Cristobal could see how far the Ducks have progressed since last year, when he was preparing for his first spring workouts as Oregon’s head coach.

The addition of a few high-profile recruits and another winter in Oregon’s fourth-quarter conditioning program have given the team a little more bounce in its step, Cristobal said.

“It sure felt different out there just from a speed (standpoint),” he said.

Saturday’s workout, conducted indoors at the Moshofsky Center, was the first on-field look at a few recent additions to the program, including defensive coordinator Andy Avalos, receivers coach Jovon Bouknight, linebackers coach Ken Wilson and top recruit Kayvon Thibodeaux.

Thibodeaux is one of four incoming freshmen on campus for spring drills, joined by quarterback Cale Millen, linebacker Ge’mon Eaford and wide receiver Josh Delgado. Cristobal is not downplaying his expectations for the freshmen, who could contend for playing time right away.

“They had no choice but to be mentioned,” he said. “They’re in the two-deep right away, so they’ve got a role.”

Millen, who is dealing with what Cristobal described as a “very mild foot injury,” is competing to be the backup quarterback behind Justin Herbert. Delgado is trying to help Oregon make up for the departure of Dillon Mitchell, who declared for the NFL draft after setting Oregon’s single-season receiving record as a junior.

Another player trying to fill that void is Bryan Addison, who redshirted last season after appearing in four games and catching one pass. Cristobal said Addison was one of the players who caught his eye on the first day of practice.

“After two-and-a-half months of this (offseason) program, his body is different, his mentality is different,” Cristobal said. “Did he take over the world today? No, but he was a very productive player, which is important.”

Cristobal said Matt Mariota will work at wide receiver this spring after playing tight end and H-back. Oregon’s receiver rotation will not include ­Daewood Davis, who has moved to cornerback for the start of spring practice.

Davis, a 6-foot-2 sophomore from Hollywood, Florida, appeared in seven games and caught one pass a year ago.

“It’s something that we had thought about when the offseason started,” Cristobal said. “It’s something he’s wanted, too. He’s talked about it before.

“He’s an extremely fast player. He’s an explosive guy, and he’s played defense as well.”

On the defensive side, the Ducks have to replace two edge rushers in Jalen Jelks and Justin Hollins, plus Lombardi Award winner Ugo Amadi at safety. They are also learning a new scheme after Cristobal decided to cut ties with Jim Leavitt and hire Avalos from Boise State as his defensive coordinator.

Oregon delayed the start of spring practice by a few days to allow more time for Avalos to install his defensive scheme. So far, Cristobal said, the Ducks are right on schedule.

“I was surprised by how quickly guys picked things up,” Cristobal said. “But at the same time we weren’t, because we know we have a smart football team.”

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