First Scrimmage is what Bellotti expected.

Oregon held its first contact scrimmage of the spring on Friday afternoon inside Autzen Stadium on Rich Brooks Field and it appeared the defense had the upper hand. The defense was led by Robby Valenzuela who sacked Johnny DuRocher and later the big defensive tackle teamed up with linebacker Jerry Matson to tackle Ryan Shaw for a safety. The defense played inspired football according to Oregon Head Coach Mike Bellotti.

"The defense did a very good job of making the big plays in fourth down situations and red zone situations," said Bellotti. "(The defense) got some turnovers, got some stops that were crucial stops."

Bellotti had special praise for both Valenzuela and Matson and is looking at both to provide the leadership on the defensive side next fall. One of the things the Oregon coaching staff is looking for in the spring workouts is the defense and how the holes created by the loss of Igor Olshansky and Kevin Mitchell will be filled. Bellotti was especially happy for Matson describing him as an intelligent player who knows how to marshal his forces, who works hard in practice and in the weight room.

"He's (Madson) the leading returning tackler that we have," commented Bellotti. "He's a guy that we count on not only to make plays but make big plays."

While the defense dressed in green seemed to have a slight advantage today the offense had their moments too. Quarterback Johnny DuRocher threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dan Kause and running backs Chris Vincent and Ryan Shaw showed some nice moves and tough running during the afternoon. Bellotti was pleased with the effort of Vincent and Shaw and said that he hoped that Vincent had regained some of the potential he showed last year.

"I would like to see him regain some of the spark and some of the dazzle he had last spring," remarked Bellotti of Vincent.

One of the other bright spots for the day was DuRocher. Bellotti thinks the red shirt freshman is much more relaxed and settled into the job of back up during the spring. That is not to say that there won't be some fireworks later on as the 2004 season nears.

"Johnny is much more comfortable with the offense and operates it very well," observed Bellotti. "Certainly Dennis Dixon has some moment of things, he did some good things but I also had a couple of fumbles, again he (Dixon) is learning. It is going to be an interesting competition between those two young quarterbacks."

There were a couple of injuries and some players were held out. Marques Binns suffered cramps and was administered fluids. Shawn (Perkins) Flannigan sprained his ankle. Enoka Lucas also had an ankle sprain. Jonathan Levine sprained his foot. Bellotti indicated that he would know more by Monday regarding the injuries. Jared Siegel was at a NCAA convention representing Oregon and was not at practice. Demetrius Williams sat out due to suffering a concussion on Tuesday. Bellotti assumes he will be back on Monday.

Typically, a spring scrimmage is nothing like the excitement of a fall Saturday afternoon in Autzen Stadium and DuRocher can attest to that. Even though he threw the only touchdown of the day, it's not quite the same.

"No," laughted DuRocher. "It still kind of gets you going inside, but I was on the sideline (last season) and you can really tell a huge difference."

Sometime in the future, DuRocher will have that chance to experience the thrill of a touchdown pass on a fall afternoon.

Oregon's next scrimmage will be next Saturday, April 17, with the time to be determined.

Notes:

Stats:

Rushing:

Vincent, 8-51 yards
Shaw, 5-29 yards
Dixon, 3-13 yards

Passing:

Clemens, 2-5-26 yards
DuRocher, 5-8-39 yards, one touchdown
Lief, 1-4-5 yards
Dixon, 2-4-13 yards
Hazel, 3-3-6 yards

Receiving:

LiaBraaten, 3-11 yards
Day 2-26 yards
Kause 1-25 yards, one touchdown
J. Johnson, 1-13 yards

Field Goals:

Bellotti 1-2 45 yards
Martinez, 1-1 36 yards

Defense:

Matson 5 tackles, 2 TFL. .5 safety
Haberly, 4 tackles
Valenzuela, 2 TFL .5 safety

Nate LiaBraaten played both on offense and defense (tight end and defensive end.) Bellotti said that LiaBraaten will continue playing both sides of the ball through the spring.

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