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Defense responds in Oregon's second spring scrimmage
Release Date: 04/21/2014
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By Rob Moseley

Venue: Autzen Stadium
Format: Scrimmage

The Ducks held their second scrimmage of the spring this morning, and again quite a few key guys took limited reps for the sake of getting experience for younger guys. For example, Marcus Mariota was again very limited, with Jake Rodrigues and Jeff Lockie primarily working with the ones, and Taylor Alie and Damion Hobbs quarterbacking the twos.

After several touchdowns for the offense last week, today was more in line with the way spring has been going in general. The defense seemed to control the play, highlighted by several sacks and a 100-yard interception return by JC cornerback Dominique Harrison.

Harrison, who took reps with the ones at Ifo Ekpre-Olomu’s spot, made his interception during a red-zone situation, and caught a block from Oshay Dunmore on his way down the sideline.

“Just being in my zone, reading my keys,” said Harrison, who arrived on campus for winter term in January. “I saw the ball thrown, and when the ball’s in the air I want to make plays. I had to go get it.”

Harrison also blocked a field-goal attempt, the lone blemish on kicker Matt Wogan’s day as he enjoyed a second straight strong performance in a scrimmage this spring.

I counted at least three sacks apiece for outside linebacker Tony Washington and defensive end Tui Talia, another JC transfer new to the team this spring. And Stetzon Bair also made several plays, with at least three tackles for loss, one while playing with the first team.

“I knew I’d have some opportunities to be up there with that group,” said Bair, who is battling for a spot on the two-deep at nose guard. “I knew I had to prove myself there, so I had to take advantage of it.”

Offensively, Devon Allen and Kani Benoit each found the end zone for the second straight scrimmage, and walk-on running back Jarret LaCoste had a short rushing touchdown. Allen’s TD catch late in the day was the second scoring throw by Rodrigues, who also completed a deep touchdown pass to Chance Allen.

Rodrigues operated the offense well in the clutch situations that required good clock-management skills. In two cases, he got the offense into position for “game-winning” field goals, one by Wogan and one for Eric Solis, and his TD to Allen was also a “game-winning” play based on the scenario.

“Whenever I go on the field, my objective is to score the ball,” Rodrigues said. “Big plays are nice, but I want points.”

Other highlights: Dior Mathis broke up a potential TD pass from Lockie to Chance Allen early in the scrimmage. … Bobby Dunn blocked a punt, and Johnny Ragin III made the scoop-and-score play. … LaCoste’s TD was set up by a long Alie run up the middle and a J.J. Jones run aided greatly by a nice kick-out block from Cameron Hunt, who took some reps at tackle. …

Rodrigues improvised a shovel pass under pressure at one point, and Dwayne Stanford made a great one-handed catch in traffic to get positive yards. … Tyree Robinson had an interception in the red zone, and Chris Seisay picked off a ball that went through a receiver’s hands.

Other observations: For kickoff returns, Mathis and Devon Allen were back deep. … Austin Daich had a couple nice plays on kickoff coverage. He’s a hard-working scout-teamer who perhaps could find a way onto the field in that role. … Byron Marshall made two guys miss in the backfield to make a short gain out of a possible disaster. … Doug Brenner had a nice blitz pick-up to hold Joe Walker at bay on a pass play. … Johnathan Loyd couldn’t come down with that pass Seisay intercepted, but he had a nice block on an outside linebacker to make room for a LaCoste run of about eight yards. Loyd also fielded punts along with Erick Dargan. …

Couple funny quotes from the sidelines. At one point Benoit was pushed out of bounds and ended up tangled up in the placekickers’ practice net. “It’s good!” came the cry from the defensive sideline. … Mark Helfrich’s post-practice remarks to the team included mention of Devon Allen's efforts on the heels of three first-place finishes in the Oregon Relays track and field meet Friday and Saturday. “That guy’s Bruce Jenner,” Helfrich said. “Do you guys know who Bruce Jenner is? That guy’s Ashton Eaton.”

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