Notes From Spring Practice: Day 12

The Ducks completed their third week of spring drills with a focus on third down situations and the punt coverage and punt return units.

With two more practices to go before the much anticipated spring game April 28th, the Ducks completed their third week of drills inside Autzen Stadium working predominantly on third down situations, according to head coach Chip Kelly.

"We had a good third down today," said Kelly. "That was the emphasis of practice; third and short, third and medium and third and long situations...It was a good work day."

Kelly also said that special teams received a little extra attention today, particularly the punt coverage and punt return units, where the object was to test the returners' decision-making of when to return, when to fair catch and when to let the punt go.

As the spring game inches closer, preparations are already underway with regard to how the two sides will be divided up. Such as in years past, the Oregon coaching staff will be split evenly between the offensive and defensive coaches and a draft will be held this weekend to determine next Saturday's combatants. Due to the some of the restrictions of conducting a true "draft" within the confines of a team, Oregon offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich says there's a bit of negotiation that comes with the territory of arbitrating an intra-squad scrimmage.

"We might do a little bit more of a diplomatic thing, where this guy can play center and the opposite of him has to play on the other team," said Helfrich. "For example, Kenjon [Barner] and De'Anthony [Thomas] will have to be on opposite teams, Marcus [Mariota] and Bryan [Bennett] will have to be on opposite teams."

When it comes to the competition Bennett and Mariota, Helfrich offered a grade of "incomplete" when asked to assess their respective performances thus far this spring, though he admitted he was "very happy" with the progress they've made.

"They're doing some really good things," said Helfrich. "We're always chasing perfection and those guys have been really solid, decision wise. They can take care of the ball a little bit better here and there, but that's natural. Guys are going to try and force a ball or force a play that's not there...They need to sometimes take off their ‘gunslinger' hat and put on your ‘game management' hat and know when to utilize either one."

Follow Chris Courtney on Twitter at eDuckCCourtney

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