Practice Notes from Friday

The Oregon defense has a strong front line and a "cast of characters" as Oregon's head coach Mike Bellotti described the linebacker corps. On Friday the team was back on the practice field honing its skills.

-In the scrimmage portion at the end, the defense was putting on a full assault on the quarterback. Linebackers Anthony Trucks and A.J. Tuitele are looking fast around the edges and were frequently getting to the quarterback. On one play, Trucks and Tuitele both hit Kellen Clemens (they let up a bit before they hit him) at the same time from different sides. Oregon's linebacker blitz could be very effective this year with the speed the starters have around the edges.

-Chris Vincent actually got a few first-team minutes today at linebacker, and when not on the first team, he joined Blair Phillips on the second unit. Phillips was very vocal today in the middle. He seems to be quieter off the field but gets really fired up on the field.

-Kellen Clemens was looking pretty sharp today when he had time. He didn't have his top wide receivers to throw to today but compensated with short passes and a couple of tosses to Tim Day down the field for big yardage. If practice is an indication of game-time plays, Day is going to be getting some long passes this year. With his speed and size, if he's up against a linebacker in the open field, he'll get separation consistently. Look for Clemens to hit Day with some deep passes this year, similar to what we say with Dante Rosario at full back last year.

-Matt Toeaina is strong and quick. Haloti Ngata has him in the size and overall strength department, but Toeaina may be one of the quickest defensive tackles Oregon has had in some time. However, Toeaina isn't lacking in strength... his legs might even be bigger than No. 96's.

-Nick Reed was on the second team today for much of the scrimmage. He looks very quick around the edges of the offensive line and very well could play as a true freshman. Could he see game time early in the season with his quickness?

-AJ Tuitele is looking more and more like a Pac-10 linebacker everyday. One must remember that USC's Pete Carroll really wanted Tuitele and offered him a scholarship. He has speed, strength, and an unquenchable fire on the field. It looks like he wants to de-helmet somebody on every play, and don't be surprised if that happens this year.

-After practice, the several players caught a few balls from the punt return ball-throwing machine including Jonathan Stewart, Jackie Bates, Sharrod Davis, Patrick Chung, Andiel Brown, Walter Thurmond, Terrell Jackson, and of course Justin Phinisee who is a proven performer here at the Pac-10 level

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