by Rob Moseley
SAN ANTONIO, Texas — The Ducks practiced for the final time this season in helmets Saturday, their walk-through for Monday's Alamo Bowl against Texas (3:45 p.m. PT, ESPN).
Up next is the "Fast Friday" up-tempo review of schemes and personnel groups Sunday, the last workout of the 2013 season.
Today continued an encouraging set of practices by Oregon since arriving in Texas on Wednesday. The proof will be in the pudding Monday, but right now the Ducks look like a focused, energized team as the game approaches.
"Hey!" defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti shouted to his players as the workout was ending. "That was a great practice!"
In a walk-through, coaches want to see everything overexaggerated — communication, technique, assignments, etc. The buzz from the field as players went through their pre-snap communication, for instance, was as audible as I can recall all season for a "Thursday."
Also today, while over at the pressroom prior to an afternoon press conference, I overheard a member of the media remark that Oregon seemed like the team more upbeat about being at the Alamo Bowl this week. That was just one guy's opinion, overheard randomly — and again, the proof will come Monday — but for now I think concerns about the Ducks' motivation after falling short of the BCS for the first time in five seasons have been allayed.
Several players and coaches met with media right after practice, and Aliotti's retirement announcement was a prominent subject.
Like Aliotti at his press conference Friday, linebackers coach Don Pellum tried — and was more successful — keeping the focus on Monday's matchup with the Longhorns.
"Right now we're focused on this game," Pellum said. "We'll celebrate Nick when we get home."
Receiver Bralon Addison, though he plays on the other side of the ball, got the impression Aliotti was particularly energized for today's practice.
"I think he was trying to send a message, that he's still an Oregon Duck and wants to go out with a bang," Addison said.
Oregon's run defense, which took its lumps against Stanford and Arizona late in the season, figures to be tested again Monday by Texas.
Like concerns about the Ducks' motivation, concerns about the run defense won't have a chance to be put to rest until the game, regardless of what the Ducks might say beforehand.
"We've addressed what we thought we needed to address," Pellum said. "We won't know until Monday."
Linebacker Boseko Lokombo said the solution is simple.
"We just need to hit," Lokombo said. "That's the bottom line."