Ducks Need to Cut Down Turnovers

Turnovers and takeaways is what Oregon Head Coach Mike Bellotti suggested as the most significant reason for the Ducks turnaround from winning the first four games of the season to losing the last three. Bellotti pointed out in his weekly media conference streamed over the Internet that Oregon had a plus four turnover/takeaway ratio in the first four games but were in the minus in the last three.

Bellotti also indicated that the Ducks changed the way they practiced during the bye week and the practices were very successful. Oregon may convert Kellen Taylor a wide receiver who broke his wrist against ASU to cornerback against Stanford this week at Autzen Stadium.

Bellotti said that the intent of practice during the bye week was to restore confidence of a team that is badly shaken from three consecutive losses. Since beating Michigan 31-27 at Autzen Stadium on September 20th, the Ducks have given up 131 points while only scoring 43 points. During the three game losing streak, the Ducks have turned the ball over 13 times and have allowed 10 sacks. Oregon gave up 38 points in the second half of the ASU game but it was a kickoff return by ASU's Daryl Lightfoot that seemed to take the wind out of the Ducks' sails. The Ducks had scored on a nine play, 66 yard drive and then kicked off. Lightfoot returned the ball on a great run to Oregon's 32-yard line and six plays later ASU scored. From then on the Ducks disintegrated.

"My greatest disappointment in the Arizona State game was our performance in the fourth quarter," said Bellotti.

Last week Oregon scrimmaged three times during the bye week and for the first time in Bellotti's coaching career, the Ducks had a full contact scrimmage on a Monday following a game. Bellotti felt it was necessary and important for his team to get back onto the field as quickly as possible after the drubbing they took from ASU. The confidence issue is paramount for the Ducks now. Bellotti believes at this point, that confidence is an issue for the entire team and that the offense, defense and special teams must over come those issues. While Bellotti does not pin the string of injuries the Ducks have suffered as the reason for the Ducks' woes, he does think that special teams in particular has been impacted by the number of injuries now amounting to over 10 players lost for the season.

The question regarding the Oregon quarterback was again asked and again Coach Bellotti indicated that both Jason Fife and Kellen Clemens would be used against Stanford. Bellotti has said throughout the fall that he feel Oregon's best chance for success is using both Fife and Clemens in game situations. Has Clemens rebounded from his performance against ASU where his first two passes were intercepted? According to Bellotti, the answer is yes.

"Kellen is a well grounded young man," commented Bellotti. "This is still a learning process and learning curve."

The only clues Bellotti gave in terms of what might change for the Ducks was that Taylor will be used in certain defensive situations and will still play on special teams. Taylor has a cast on his wrist and is unable to perform as a receiver. Another receiver, Samie Parker may also see time in the defensive secondary as a cornerback. Bellotti mentioned that Parker had worked out as a cornerback over the last couple of years so he does have some experience with the defensive schemes. Two other notes regarding personnel, Anthony Trucks is questionable for Saturday's contest and Ramone Reed will not be available due to his mother's death.

Oregon may get a reprieve this week by playing Stanford. The Cardinal is 2-3 for the season and 0-3 in Pac-10 play. Last week Stanford showed some signs of life in a losing effort to Washington State, 24-14 in a solid defensive effort. Stanford does not have a senior among their starting defensive unit and Head Coach Buddy Teevens describes his team as being very young. In fact the depth chart for the offensive line shows only one player, a three-year starter Kirk Chambers as having any significant playing time. Stanford is also addressing a starting quarterback question. Redshirt freshman Trent Edwards has been the starter since the San Jose State game but was lost during the Washington State game. Former starter Chris Lewis may be the starter for the game against Oregon. Lewis came in off the bench in 2001 to lead Stanford to a 49-42 win over the then No. 5 ranked Ducks. It was Oregon's only loss for the 2001 season. There will be an Oregon connection on Stanford. Lake Oswego graduate and junior linebacker David Bergeron is the third leading tackler for the Stanford defenders and recorded 18 tackles in the last two games against USC and WSU.

"He (Bergeron) has a tremendous enthusiasm for the game," Teevens told the Pac-10 media conference also streamed on the Internet.

Oregon must not turn the ball over as they have in the previous three games if they expect to beat Stanford. A win will go a long way in restoring the confidence of a team that still has a chance to realize success in the remaining five games. Kickoff for the Stanford game is scheduled for 12:30 p.m.

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