The biggest question all spring has been who would it be, Clemens or (senior Jason) Fife? Clemens certainly made a strong statement for cementing the position of starting quarterback when fall camp starts next August by throwing some impressive passes, staying poised and finding receivers. Fife who did not have as impressive day of passing did show his ability to scramble, but in a series of six straight completions, Clemens really shined. Starting with a 68-yard scoring strike on a post pattern to a streaking Parker, Clemens proceeded to throw five more completions. Three of those passes were to Parker and Demetrius Williams had two more receptions including catching a deflection for a touchdown. Clemens did not seem bothered by an aggressive defensive push, and was able to check off his targets until finding his receivers with some tight spirals. Oregon Head Coach Mike Bellotti was not quite ready though to hand the starting job to Clemens. Bellotti indicated he would review the tapes of the spring scrimmage and evaluate the overall spring performance of both Clemens and Fife before making a decision.
"I liked the competition (between Clemens and Fife)," said Bellotti. "I liked what it has done for Kellen, I liked what it has done for Jason. I think it will continue throughout the summer and then into fall camp."
Bellotti thought he might not make a final decision until right before the Mississippi State game.
Parker's play on Saturday was astounding. The 5-10 senior used his speed and experience against a number of defensive backs to put himself into a position to catch Clemens' bullet passes. In the past, Parker has been thought of as a speed receiver that could stretch out a defense, but Saturday he simply caught everything thrown his way.
(PHOTO RIGHT) Samie Parker in action during Spring Scrimmage on May 3rd, at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Or. (Photo by Neil Wilson)
"Samie Parker skills have improved dramatically," praised Bellotti. "Not just his speed, which we always knew he had but his understanding of the game, (and) his utilization of techniques to get himself open."
Parker has spent the spring split between working with the football team while also running track.
The starting running back slot may still be up for grabs. Freshman Chris Vincent, junior Ryan Shaw and sophomore Terrence Whitehead all showed signs of speed and strength. While a stiff Oregon defense did not allow much progress on straight-ahead runs, both Vincent and Shaw showed the ability to turn the corner and run outside. Shaw had a nice 18-yard run while Vincent had one run of 15 yards.
(PHOTO LEFT) Freshman Chris Vincent carries the ball in the spring but hopes to challenge for the starting position in the fall. (Photo by Neil Wilson)
"Chris Vincent ran well today," commented Bellotti. "He ran with a step more quickness today, which I liked."
Defensively, the Duck were very aggressive and recorded a number of sacks. At one point sophomores Haloti Ngata and Darius Sanders combined to sack Fife, and then on the next play freshmen Andy Collins and Dustin Holmns brought Fife down behind the line of scrimmage again. Collins, was a quarterback last year and converted to defense this spring. The defensive backs showed more experience despite being burned once by Parker. Senior Keith Lewis is the obvious leader of the defensive backfield and caught the eye of the head coach.
(PHOTO RIGHT) Linebacker Jerry Matson (52) stops Ryan Shaw (27)during the scrimmage held on May 3rd, at Autzen Stadium, in Eugene, Or. (Photo by Neil Wilson)
"Keith Lewis made some plays," said Belloti. "Which we expect him to do."
The coaching staff used a scrimmage scoring system to track the workout Saturday. Both the offense and defense could score points. A sack for example gave the defense two points. An interception was worth four points. When the offense moved the ball for a first down, the effort was rewarded with a point. A touchdown was worth six points, while each play moving the ball 20-yards downfield was given two points. Forcing a punt was one point and forcing a fumble was also one point. Bellotti liked the point system and plans to use it in the fall camp.
"It (the scoring system) also points out when you make a mistake of how much it costs you," said Bellotti.
Perhaps the biggest news is that no one was injured seriously during the spring workouts and having a roster full of healthy bodies going into the fall is a plus for the Ducks.
"We had no injuries at this point that I think that would hold anybody out of fall camp and that is awesome," the head coach pointed out. "Now they have to continue to work very hard the remainder of spring and summer."
(PHOTO LEFT) Head Coach Mike Bellotti watches his team during the scrimmage on Saturday, May 3rd. (Photo by Neil Wilson)
The coaching staff will now go through the process of review film of the spring workouts and deciphering the strengths and weaknesses of the squad. The team will spend the time in the weight room and conditioning. Overall the spirit was very high and the players are anxious to make up for last year's record of 7-6.
"We've got a real fierce attitude, we're ready to get going to make up for last season," said junior tackle Adam Snyder. "We're going to hit the weights pretty hard."
The Ducks will open the 2003 season against Mississippi State on August 30, at Starksville.