by Rob Moseley
Oregon coach Mark Helfrich held a brief conference call with local reporters today to set the stage for Monday's start of preseason camp, when he will also speak at the Ducks' media day session.
Helfrich spoke glowingly of Oregon's new Football Performance Center, and addressed the decision to have Scott Frost call plays on offense this fall, two subjects previously addressed on GoDucks.com.
Regarding position battles to be waged in fall camp, Helfrich said running back and inside linebacker stuck out in his mind. The Ducks are looking to replace seniors at each spot — Kenjon Barner at running back, Michael Clay and Kiko Alonso at linebacker.
The Ducks have a bunch of potential candidates to replace Clay and Alonso, notably Derrick Malone, Rodney Hardrick, Tyson Coleman, Rahim Cassell, Joe Walker, Brett Bafaro and Grant Thompson, Helfrich said.
At running back, De'Anthony Thomas, Byron Marshall and Ayele Forde are back, along with several walk-ons. To be determined is whether Thomas is primarily a tailback or stays in an all-purpose role, which could perhaps be influenced by the development of freshmen Thomas Tyner and Kani Benoit.
Helfrich was asked about the state of the offensive line, where injuries in the spring forced a deviation from the normal spring game format. Were the Ducks to play a game today, they could hold a typical scrimmage, Helfrich said.
The coach said in an interview Thursday he expects all hands on deck for the start of practice, with no players declared "out" due to injury to start the season.