Notes and observations of practice

The Ducks went back to the practice field on Thursday morning after taking Wednesday off to review film of the first few days of practice. Head coach Mike Bellotti indicated on Tuesday that the intensity of the practices would increase over the next few days as the Ducks seek to remedy a 5-6 season from last year.

This morning's practice was business as usual in the sense the coaches have increased the demands on the players. Aaron Gipson is looking fast in receiver vs. cornerback drills. He is staying with his receiver very well. Kyle Weatherspoon looks like one of the faster wide receivers and lives up to his 40-time (reportedly 4.37 seconds) out of high school.

(Photo right) Aaron Gipson at Media Day. Gipson enters his senior season with the Oregon Ducks as the leader of the defense and the team's leading interception specialist with four picks last season. (Photo by Steve Summers)

Gipson leads a defensive backfield that has matured into one of the most impressive in the Pac-10 conference. Gipson, along with fellow senior Justin Phinisee are slated to start at cornerbacks while junior J.D. Nelson is the starting free safety and redshirt freshman Patrick Chung is tabbed as the starting rover. The Ducks will open their season on Sept. 1st against Houston. The game will be carried live on ESPN2. Oregon's first conference game is against USC on Sept. 24, with a 4 p.m. scheduled kickoff and will carried live on ABC.

(Photo left) Max Unger (60) takes on an unidentified lineman during drills earlier this week. Unger, a redshirt freshman is slated as a starting tackle this season. (Photo by Dave O'Shea)

The Ducks replaced four offensive linemen and the new line will have to quickly take in a new offense that will have elements of the old offense and a new spread offense. During drills today the running backs worked with the quarterbacks on pitches. Jonathan Stewart was participating in these drills, so his oblique injury doesn't appear too serious. The Ducks continued to show a 2-back set as Bellotti indicated on Tuesday after the team's first scrimmage.

(Photo right) Brian Truelove (99) leaves the practice field after the team's first scrimmage on Tuesday. Truelove, 6-2, 275, was the second player to give a verbal commitment last season and the first to send his signed letter of intent to the University last February for the recruiting class of 2005. (Photo by Steve Summers)

Jordan Kent was practicing with the third team in passing drills while Brian Paysinger was getting repetitions with the first team along with Demetrius Williams and James Finley.

Also in passing drills, Cameron Colvin once again was impressive with his speed and how fast he gets the ball against his body after he catches it with his hands (he doesn't catch with his body). He was on the second team but looked like the quickest wide receiver on the field and displayed great hands with no drops. During this drill, Coach Gary Crowton was helping the receivers with footwork and is really passionate about his work. Crowton then took a minute out of the drill to teach positioning on a catch, and his knowledge was quite impressive. From the reaction of one of the players, it sounded like something he had never heard from a coach before.

James Finley's attitude appears great. Finley beat Sharrod Davis in a drill then went back to shake his hand. Sometimes players might do that as a dig, but it was apparent Finley was being encouraging.

(John Feeney contributed to this story)


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