With 13 practices down, only two days of spring activities remain for the Oregon Ducks as they look to put a bow on their final preparations in April before reconvening for Fall camp in August. Inside the Moshofsky Center Monday morning, the Ducks split in to their respective teams for the spring game and kept score in a number of drills in order to give head coach Chip Kelly's team some "continuity" heading in to Saturday.
The "away" team led by junior quarterback Darron Thomas won the day, 78-70, over the Bryan Bennett led "home" side.
Unlike many of the previous practices this spring, the offense had a relatively impressive and mistake-free morning as both Thomas and Bennett threw the ball with effectiveness in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills. The connection between Bennett and junior wide receiver Justin Hoffman was particularly potent, as the two hooked up for big plays on a number of different occasions during team drills Monday. Along with Hoffman, sophomore wide receiver Blake Cantu and tight ends David Paulson and Colt Lyerla also had standout performances in the passing game.
The arguable play of the day came from junior running back LaMichael James towards the tail end of practice. While not necessarily known as a bruising ball carrier, James lowered the boom on sophomore defensive back Avery Patterson in the final minutes of a mock scrimmage to conclude the day, bounding in to the endzone and drawing excited reactions from the offensive side of the ball.
"He had a great day all day," Kelly said of James, who has played an understated role this spring in an effort to stay fresh for the upcoming season. "He was flying around and he had a great practice from start to finish. That's what we expect out of him."
On Saturday, the Ducks will once again honor the men, women and families of United States Armed Services in a gesture that has become tradition since Kelly assumed the head coaching position at Oregon prior to the 2009 season. For Kelly, honoring the men, women and families of the U.S. military isn't a one time occurrence to be celebrated one year and forgotten the next.
"I think that's the problem in this country," Kelly stated. "I think some people forget about what those guys do and the sacrifices they make...I think it's a message that needs to be at the forefront all the time. The people that sacrifice for this country so that we can do what we do deserve to get a thank you and that's what we'll continue to do with our spring game."
Cleared for practice for the first time in several days on Monday were offensive lineman Hroniss Grasu, tight end Curtis White, defensive lineman Jared Ebert and the aforementioned Cantu. In red non-contact jerseys were safeties Eddie Pleasant and John Boyett along with wide receiver Nick Cole and linebacker Dewitt Stuckey, despite the fact that none appeared to nurse an injury of any sort. Wide receiver Josh Huff and defensive end Tony Washington remained sidelined indefinitely Monday with knee injuries. Huff wore standard practice apparel minus pads, while Washington was a spectator from the sidelines sporting a red non-contact jersey, crutches and bulky knee brace.
Follow Chris Courtney on Twitter at eDuckCCourtney
Notes From Spring Practice: Day 13
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