Notes From Spring Practice: Day 9

The abysmal weather and subsequent performance by the Oregon offense during Wednesday's scrimmage cast a shadow over the week as a whole heading in to Friday's practice, where Oregon head coach Chip Kelly hoped to see his beloved unit rebound.

The weather outside continued to be frightful, but the overall exhibition by the Oregon offense on Friday was far more delightful, as the Ducks closed out their third week of spring practice inside the Moshofsky Center. Quarterbacks Darron Thomas and Bryan Bennett slogged their way through subpar displays during Wednesday's scrimmage, yet both appeared to be motivated by their lackluster performances on Friday as both players were on point and in rhythm in the passing game for much of the day.

"They're competitive guys and I thought those guys bounced back pretty good (today)," said head coach Chip Kelly of his quarterbacks' improvement.

"(Wednesday) was just sloppy and I think we've got to clean that stuff up. Not that it wasn't expected. You come out with officials for the first time and learning how to play in game situations and you try to replicate it. That's the big thing. Can you take it from the practice field to a game? That's what we're trying to find out."

Bennett, in particular, appeared to respond well to his forgettable outing on Wednesday, firing accurate passes all over the field to targets such as true freshman tight end Colt Lyerla and redshirt freshman wide receiver, Eric Dungy.

Despite the offense bouncing back nicely Friday, Kelly continued to praise his defense's performance Wednesday and their overall play throughout the spring. Most notably, Kelly applauded the work of his defensive line -- a unit widely considered to be the weak link of this squad heading in to 2011.

"Wade Keliikipi, Taylor Hart, Dion Jordan, Ricky Heimuli -- Brandon Hanna's had a great spring -- those guys all flew around (Wednesday) and made big plays," Kelly stated after practice Friday.

"Our d-line has played outstanding."

Kelly also mentioned that he's been encouraged with the new leadership role junior cornerback Cliff Harris has assumed -- along with senior cornerback Anthony Gildon -- with the graduation of Talmadge Jackson. The mercurial Harris has never been one to shy away from the spotlight, but Kelly insists that his electrifying corner has grown leaps and bounds from a maturity standpoint.

"Cliff has matured a lot," Kelly admitted. "He'll be in his third year and he's played a lot of football during his first two years here. Cliff's starting to take over that leadership role that Talmadge left...I've been really happy with Cliff throughout the winter and what I've seen so far this spring."

Harris also impressed as a punt returner this morning during a special teams period, flashing the speed and natural return instincts that made him one of the most feared return men in the entire country last season.

Notes:

Sophomore wide receiver Josh Huff appears to be healing rapidly from the knee injury he suffered last Friday. Huff began the week in a bulky brace but has demonstrated vastly improved knee mobility with each passing day. He was seen wearing a light neoprene apparatus on his knee this morning, running around and cutting sans pads and helmet as he seems to be rounding in to eventual practice shape. Other injuries of note: LB Derrick Malone (hand), LB Dewitt Stuckey (head), WR Keanon Lowe (undisclosed), TE Curtis White (undisclosed) and DL Jared Ebert (undisclosed).

Follow Chris Courtney on Twitter at eDuckCCourtney


eDuck Top Stories