EUGENE – The University of Oregon football team completed its first week of practice with a 20-minute controlled scrimmage at the end of its second workout in full pads, with head coach Mike Bellotti reasonably pleased with what he’s witnessed so far. Yet he’s probably not quite ready to forego the next three weeks of practice and march right to the Ducks’ Aug. 30 season opener vs. Washington.
Oregon’s experienced frontliners have generally picked up where they left off from their post-season triumph but once you get past the starting 22 players on offense and defense, the inexperience becomes more apparent within the reserve ranks.
“Overall I think it’s been a good week of practice,” Bellotti said following the conclusion of his team’s first double-day practice. “I think we have a lot of things to work on but I appreciate this group has energy, they like football, and they’re coachable in that we improved on some things we talked about from yesterday to today. They protect the passer better, our receivers are a little gimpy right now, they’re a little tired and a little sore, and they dropped some passes. Jairus Byrd stood out to me today on defense, he did a couple of great things. That secondary as we talked about before is legit. We still need to make sure we’re solid on that front seven in terms of our run defense.”
Although the numbers from the scrimmage may not have been impressive, the first-team offense and defense both demonstrated that they’re ahead of the remainder of the team. Sophomore quarterback Nate Costa was perfect on all three of his passing attempts in the brief scrimmage portion of Saturday’s workout to engineer an eight-play drive that Bellotti halted with the offense standing on the defense’s 4-yard line. The rest of the day was devoted to the team’s reserves as all five quarterbacks were given opportunities to demonstrate what they could do.
“I think Nate (Costa) is doing a good job. If you watch him I think Nate has some quickness. He runs really well, I think he surprises some of people out there. He’s got to get some things just technically with his throwing motion I think better. He didn’t really practice last spring in the pocket at all so he is still getting comfortable there, and I think we did a better job of protecting him which makes every quarterback feel comfortable.
Costa completed a pair of 17-yard tosses to tight end Ed Dickson and finished with 42 passing yards, while senior running back Jeremiah Johnson carried the football twice for 19 yards.
“I thought Jeremiah Johnson has done a really nice job,” Bellotti said. “I think he’s running the ball very, very well, he’s got a great sense and feel for this offense, and so does Andre Crenshaw. Those two guys have stood out to me. LeGarrette (Blount) is getting by right now on a lot of power but he can be better.
“I think (linebacker) Spencer Paysinger is doing a nice job although he’s a little bit hobbled right now on defense, I love our secondary, T.J. Ward did a great job earlier today ripping and stripping the balls out and again he made a great hit on Ed Dickson in the scrimmage that actually scared me.”
Quarterback newcomer Jeremiah Masoli was the only other signal caller to complete a pass, connecting on one of his four attempts for 4 yards, while sophomore Justin Roper and freshman Darron Thomas were unsuccessful on their lone attempts.
Crenshaw led all rushers with 29 yards on two carries.
“I obviously want to see both sides dominate and flex their muscles and do some really good things,” Bellotti added. ”I thought the first-team offense put together a really good drive early, they were on the brink of scoring. I had a set number of plays I wanted them to be in and that is why I stopped it. After that, our experience quotient at quarterback and a couple of other places demonstrated our youth. We don’t quite have the same comfortability and experience after that.
“Overall, our defense we’ve got some guys that are flying around really with great energy who are wanting to hit people, and that’s good. Eddie Plesant shows up to me and does some things out there on those lines and Nick Reed continues to make plays like he always does. “
The Ducks will take the day off from the practice field Sunday before practicing twice on Monday.
-- goducks.com --