Ducks hold last practice before Spring game on Thursday

Oregon Defensive Coordinator Jim Leavitt was as enthusiastic as always, but he had a cautionary message when he met with reporters warning fans and followers of the Ducks to not read too much into the Spring Game. On Saturday, the Ducks will hold a formal scrimmage that will look very much like a regular game -- sort of. That is to say that the Oregon coaches will use a very basic play book and are still in the evaluation process.

For fans that follow spring games, that is not new, and what the annual spring game is designed to do, is formally end practice, give players a reward for all the hard work they've done over the last four weeks, and use the event tomorrow as a stepping stone and example for the team to study during the off-season that starts Sunday and will run all the way until the start of Fall Camp.

Overall, Leavitt is optimistic on the progress his defenders have made, but still he notes there is a lot of work to do. Granted, during the media interview on Thursday he admitted that no matter where he might have been, and regardless of the team he may have been coaching that he would have said the same thing. For a coach, there is always more work to do.

In the case of the Ducks, this project that Leavitt has taken on, is rebuilding one of the worst defenses ever in college football and certainly a defense that was so bad that the Ducks fell victim to eight teams last season that scored more points than Oregon.

Leavitt said that the game will be toned down as far as the playbook goes and that during the off-season he expects his players to hit the weight room and classroom hard.

"Train their tails off," screamed Leavitt when asked what he expected of the defense during the next three months."Go!"

Leavitt went on to say that in all of his years coaching that "the summers have been more productive than the springs." That is to say that armed with the experience gained by the spring workouts, players can use the experience to focus on what they need to do to be physically, mentally and emotionally ready for football when Fall Camp rolls around.

While reporters have not been able to report on entire practices, there is noticeably plenty of enthusiasm

While the athletes have said all the right things to make believes out of fans, Leavitt is the first to admit that his defense has done nothing yet. The proof of whether this coaching staff has made a serious impact on a team that was so badly decimated in 2016 won't be known until the Ducks hit the playing field in an actual game next fall. 

Until then, fans and followers will have the Spring Game to review, discuss, analyse,  critique and make wild guesses about where this team will be in the conference race next season. Will it return to the top like the fans want or will it fall back into its ways?

Likely, neither extreme will happen, but from what the reporters have seen so far, this team should be better than last year. The players and coaches will have plenty of video to review and the test of will for the Oregon Ducks to be a team of champions continues, with a final task of playing a Spring Game on Saturday starting at 11 a.m. The game will also be televised live by the Pac-12 Networks.


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