Ducks are solid in first scrimmage..

The Oregon Ducks held their first scrimmage of the fall camp on Saturday afternoon on the turf of Autzen Stadium. Head Coach Mike Bellotti called it "a good first step," and felt the tempo on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball was good. Bellotti cited the crisp hitting and popping of contact and believes there is a competitive spirit among the team that will carry on throughout the season.

The scrimmage was a scripted affair designed to allow the ones (starters), twos (back-ups) and threes (reserves) equal opportunity at snaps and defense. Some may have had a few more plays only because it allowed the players opportunities to finish drives.

The competition between senior quarterback Jason Fife and sophomore Kellen Clemens continued with both showing good leadership qualities and skills. The two combined for a 12 of 23 passing effort for a total 156 yards. Both completed six passes and Bellotti was pleased with both of their performance on Saturday.

Bellotti explained that within the Oregon system the quarterback has three jobs. One job is to operate the offense and allow everybody (other team members) to be successful. The second job is to operate at his position, within an efficient manner. The third which may be the most important is to make plays when things breakdown.

"These guys (Fife and Clemens) are doing a very good job of (number) one and three," said Bellotti. "We need to work on the consistency factor of number two."

Bellotti thought that the Ducks have a very deep receiving corps that will develop as the season continues. The Ducks headman feels the receivers have very good range and speed. One receiver that has only been back practicing with the team for the last week made an impact on the scrimmage. Junior Kellen Taylor had four catches for 59 yards, and looked sharp. However, Bellotti said he thought Taylor was a bit rusty, and cautioned as good as Taylor may have looked, he is much better than that. If that is the case then expect big things from Taylor as he clearly was a force in the scrimmage.

"This was his (Taylor) fifth day of practice," commented Bellotti. "I expect for him to improve dramatically in the next couple of weeks."

Bellotti's sentiments about Taylor were shared by both Fife and Clemens. Fife described Taylor as a, "real baller." Clemens had even more providential things to say regarding Taylor.

"It was a blessing to get Kellen Taylor back," declared Clemens.

The leading receiver for the Ducks, Samie Parker was relatively quiet for the day. Not because he was having a bad day, but because he is a known quantity. Bellotti mentioned that there are five to ten players on both the offense and defense that the coaches did not need to see a lot of touches in the scrimmage to know what they can do. Parker is obviously one of them. Bellotti noted that Parker has been making catches all over the field and is able to make plays after the catch. Bellotti also notes Parkers speed.

"He is a different speed than probably anybody on our team and anyone in the nation," said Bellotti.

Defensively, the sticky question about the Ducks secondary appears to be settling. The young players from last year's squad that struggled through the later part of the season are now veterans and have noticeably more confidence. Bellotti felt several defensive backs had a good scrimmage, among them Marcus Binns, Rodney Woods and Justin Phinisee caught the head coach's eye. Bellotti also said that senior cornerback Steven Moore has had a very solid camp. Fife, who sees the defensive backs everyday in practice observed, "as a whole, it seems that they are working together a lot better."

No story about a Duck scrimmage could be complete without mentioning junior defensive tackle Igor Olshansky and sophomore defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. The two stalwarts of the defensive line have made impressions on Clemens. He thought that playing against Olshansky and Ngata everyday enhances the Oregon offensive line, which coach Bellotti referred to as one of the two most solid parts of the team. When asked if he (Clemens) was playing for another team, how would it be playing against Olshansky and Ngata?

"I wouldn't want to be, I get sick of it already, I'm glad they are on our team," Clemens simply answered,

Oregon will continue to prepare for the season and the opening game against Mississippi State in Starkville on August 30th. Kickoff for the game is 6:00 p.m. PDT. The game will be carried on ESPN2.

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