Wednesday: More work and some shining stars

The Oregon Ducks continued to work their way through fall camp, as they will begin game preparation in earnest next week for the upcoming first game against Houston. As noise was piped to cause confusion and extra pressure on the team, some flaws were exposed while certain young players showed some glimpses of brilliance.

The team had some reaction to the effects of the noise as the offensive line jumped and caused six flags to be thrown its way. The defense was a bit better but was called on three penalties. Two of those flags were for personal fouls when the offensive player's facemask was grabbed. Place kicker Paul Martinez showed good leg strength today but was not as accurate as he had been, going 1-for-3 in his field goal attempts during the scrimmage. His one good attempt was from 26 yards while he missed two longer efforts. Oregon head coach Mike Bellotti was not particularly pleased with some of the penalties and the work on special teams that started off the practice.

"We have a lot of work to do," said Bellotti about the scrimmage. "Our special teams in my mind didn't set a very good tone to start this thing. I feel we have to be much, much sharper. We have an opportunity to practice and that is good because we need it."

Playing with noise for the first time caused some of the linemen to jump. The Ducks piped in noise for experience, and it was bothersome. Senior quarterback Kellen Clemens recognized the problem but pointed out the Ducks did score three touchdowns.

"We're still getting better, I don't think we're exactly where we need to be at this point," observed Clemens. "We had a little difficulty with the noise as far as the snaps and some audible situations (but) three touchdowns no turnovers. All in all I think we're on the right path offensively."

(Photo right) Mike Bellotti answers questions following scrimmage at Autzen Stadium on Aug. 24, 2005. (Photo Marty Martindale)

Ryan Keeling returned to form after an injury plagued season last year and had a good day receiving the ball from the tight end position. Keeling caught three balls for 43 yards including a 5-yard touchdown pass from Clemens. Keeling also caught the eye of Bellotti who thought Keeling has had a good fall camp. For Keeling's part, he is feeling he has regained his form and hopes the effort today will pay off.

"It felt good," commented Keeling of his touchdown catch. "I'm working my way through (and) I'm still trying to earn my spot."

Dennis Dixon scored on a nifty 20-yard run and wide receiver Nicholas Dahlen caught a touchdown pass from Brady Leaf. Dixon had four carries with a net 17 yards rushing and was 1-of-6 passing for 44 yards. His long completion was to tight end Dan Kause. Clemens was 7-of-11, 84 yards and one touchdown. Leaf was 4-of-8, 88 yards and a touchdown.

Another offensive player that caught everyone's attention was freshman Jonathan Stewart. Although he only had four carries today for 17 yards, one of the rushes was very impressive. During a drill that started the ball on the offense's own 1-yard line, Stewart took the ball on a hand off from quarterback Dixon. Cutting to his right, Stewart appeared to be stopped for a 1-yard gain, however he kept churning his legs and suddenly the pile of would-be tacklers seemed to move like a swarm of bees. Steadily Stewart kept moving downfield and ended up with an 11-yard gain. Later on, Stewart would head to the sideline with a cramp.

"He had a cramp, it was good that it was cramp and not a muscle pull," Bellotti said of Stewart's condition. "It is a shame because we need to get him some work. He looks brilliant at times and then he just can't quite sustain it so I hope he can stay healthy and we'll get him some more work."

Terrell Jackson had two carries for 14 yards and Terrence Whitehead had three carries for five yards. Matt Bramow had two catches for 32 yards.

Bellotti feels his team is close to the kind of unit he believes they can be. He points out the team still has work yet to do in the week remaining until the Ducks are in Houston playing the University of Houston Cougars.

The Ducks will kick off the season next week on Sept. 1st in Houston. The game will be carried live on ESPN2.

Notes: Mike Bellotti mentioned that one of the highlights of the scrimmage was that there were no injuries.


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