One more day of spring practice separates the Oregon Ducks from their annual spring game and the end of spring drills. Though head coach Chip Kelly says there isn't any more anticipation for Saturday's game than there is for any other practice, senior running back Kenjon Barner begged to differ.
"It's more than a practice," admitted Barner. "You get to put on a uniform. You get to go out and smash somebody...I think we [the players] are (more excited). The coaches are a little more nervous about it."
Over the weekend, the Oregon coaching staff conducted a "draft" to determine who the two sides would be come Saturday. While Kelly said that the spring rosters won't be finalized and made available to the public until Wednesday, Barner revealed that Bryan Bennett will be his quarterback, while quarterback Marcus Mariota and running back De'Anthony Thomas will lead the opposing team.
Barner also provided some insight on the one thing that his impressed him the most thus far this spring: the defense. With the Ducks returning seven "starters" on the defensive side of the ball from a year ago, Barner is of the opinion that the Oregon defense could be a dominant unit in 2012, based off what he's seen this April.
"I really like our defense," said Barner. "I'm excited about our defense and those guys. I'm really excited."
The most excitable player the Ducks lost over the offseason was arguably Terrell Turner, the now graduated defensive end with the big personality who served as the spiritual leader for the Oregon defensive line the past couple of seasons. Aiming to replace Turner are a handful of players, though the favorites at this point appear to be sophomore Tony Washington and redshirt freshman Koa Ka'ai. Washington has the most experience of the two, appearing in 10 games last season, though Ka'ai was a highly touted defensive end coming out of high school who has used his redshirt year and the spring to help him gain a better understanding of the defensive system.
"I'm just learning a bunch and gaining an understanding for all the different positions," said Ka'ai. "I think I've come a long way, in terms of learning the defense. I feel like I've got a hang of it a lot more than I did in the fall and during the season."
Follow Chris Courtney on Twitter at eDuckCCourtney
Notes From Spring Practice: Day 13
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