Much of the second half of the session was spent working with the offensive line on picking up the blitzing defense and protecting the quarterback. The number one unit of Max Unger, Enoka Lucas, Palauni Ma Sun, Geoff Schwartz and Shawn Flannigan was effective in protecting Clemens and most of the sessions longer completions came during this drill. Demetrius Williams and Andiel Brown both took receptions for the distance after the line had correctly identified where the defensive pressure was coming from and sealed off the rush.
On the defensive side of the ball, secondary coach John Neal was emphatic in his instructions to his group early in the practice. Barking "this is focus time fellas, you got to master this" he then stepped into the drill to demonstrate the correct foot shuffle to employ to maintain balance while back pedaling and at the same time reading the receiver's route.
Later during a drill that had the DB's working on shedding their blocks he encouraged "Hands first! There you go. – better- very nice".
Cornerback Sharrod Davis continues to impress with his physical style of play. At 5'10" and 180 pounds he would appear to be no match for the likes of Dante Rosario, but in the best tackle of the session he was more than up to the task. Reading the crossing route, Sharrod positioned himself just under Dante's leading shoulder and stapled him to the turf just as the ball arrived. It is worth noting Rosario held on to the ball for the completion.
Cameron Colvin, James Finley and Victor Felipe were held out of the session though it is expected their return will be "soon". After missing the past two sessions, DT Haloti Ngata was able to participate in the workout.
Much attention has been placed on the new elements being incorporated into the offense this spring. In past seasons Oregon has been noted for the quick strike nature of the offensive attack. After the practice I asked head coach Mike Bellotti about a possible change of philosophy and building a ball control capability into the offense. "A little of both" Bellotti responded. "In watching Northwestern, Texas Tech, Utah and some of the people we're drawing elements of this offense from, I think initially it was designed as a ball control offense. But it grew to become a quick strike offense with greater scoring capability as they got a few more athletes on the field. I'd like to hope to that we are at that point where we can control the ball but also create the opportunity to create big plays."
The last practice of the spring sessions will be held Thursday afternoon and the spring scrimmage will take place at 12:30 pm Saturday in Autzen Stadium.