News And Notes From Scrimmage

As rain showers continued to fall outside, Coach Mike Bellotti yelled for his players to change shoes and get in the Moshofsky Center for Saturday's scrimmage. Not too long thereafter the players reappeared in their turf shoes to play in front of a huge crowd in the controlled inside environment.

The offense donned white jerseys, and with the defense wearing green the players took to the gridiron immediately for two series of passing plays. While it seemed many people were there to watch the quarterbacks, it was the defense that shined during this part of the practice. Kellen Clemens and Jason Fife were the only quarterbacks to see any action, and went a combined 3-8 through the air, much of that due to stellar defense. Oregon's defensive backs had great coverage and the defensive line applied some early pressure.

Following the passing game, the team went into drills and seven on seven action. Again, in both of these series of drills, the defensive backs were solid, breaking up several passes.

At the start of the scrimmage, we saw much of the offense that has been put in so far this spring. The multiple shifts offense looks like it will be quite the weapon for the Ducks. Tight end George Wrightster shifted many times from his usual spot on the line into the backfield, and then back out to the slot. It almost looks as though the tight end and fullback spots are interchangeable for the Ducks this year.

Early in the scrimmage, with Jason Fife at the helm, a toss was run with running back Onterrio Smith running to the left. Smith saw there was nowhere to go and turned around, running to the right. Defensive tackle Robby Valenzuela turned to pursue Smith when Fife turned and laid an amazing cut block on Valenzuela, opening the field up for Smith. Just when it looked as though Smith was going to find room on the right side, linebacker Garret Graham raced around the pile made by Fife and Valenzuela and caught Smith, pulling him down from behind, holding him to no gain.

When Clemens entered the game, a few center quarterback exchange problems came about, but seemed to be solved after a few snaps. Oregon's quick ends often found their way into the backfield, but Clemens was able to move around and create throwing lanes for himself. His movement led to him gaining 26 yards on five scrambles, and throwing 11 times, completing six of them for 61 yards.

After seeing Smith and Allen Amundson at tailback, Matt Stewart entered the game. On his second run of the game Stewart took a handoff and went off the right side, outrunning the defense and going 44 yards for the only offensive touchdown of the game. Stewart finished the day with seven rushes for 59 yards.

The offense next moved into a minus one situation, putting themselves on their own one yardline. After two Onterrio Smith runs netted three yards, Clemens dropped back to throw to the right flat. As the ball was in the air, Steven Clayton stepped in front of the pass, picked it off, and took it to the house, for the defense's only touchdown.

Fife came back into the game after the Clayton interception and handed the ball off to Allen Amundson who busted through the line for 15 yards and the first down. A few plays later, Amundson lined up in the right slot and went in motion to the left. Fife turned and pivoted, handing off to Amundson on the fly. Amundson hit the corner and accelerated, pulling away from the defenders. Keith Allen laid a huge crack block on Clayton, laying him out, and allowing Amundson to gain nearly thirty yards. However a flag was thrown on the play and it was all called back for illegal motion.

Cornerback Justin Phinisee wound up with an interception later in the scrimmage when a Clemens pass was tipped by Demetrius Williams, and fell right into Phinisee's hands. Phinisee also brought the wood, laying a number of hits all day.

Overall, the Oregon scrimmage showed some new wrinkles that should only add to the offensive output, and a defense that will be reckoned with.

NOTES: -Quarterback stats: Jason Fife, 2-6 for 14 yards, Kellen Clemens, 6-11 for 61 yards and one interception, Scott Vossmeyer, 6-10 for 49 yards and one interception.

-Rushing leaders: Matt Stewart, seven rushes for 59 yards and one TD, Alan Amundson, 10 rushes for 41 yards, Kellen Clemens, five rushes for 26 yards.

-Receiving leaders: Tim Day, one catch for 24 yards, Keith Allen, two catches for 15 yards, John Lucchesi, two caches for 14 yards.

-Igor Olshansky showed amazing quickness shooting the gap and making a couple of stops behind the line of scrimmage.

-Although it has been publicized that the Ducks would use more shotgun this year, none was shown at today's scrimmage.

-Darrell Wright was in the backfield all day, disrupting many drop back passes and running plays.

-Defensive end Kevin Mack went down in the first half of the scrimmage holding his left knee. He was taken off the field on a pull cart. His condition was not immediately known.

-Offensive lineman Adam Snyder also went down, not long after Mack's injury. Snyder walked off the field under his own power though, favoring his left knee.

-Rover back Timothy Frieh had a couple of big hits in the scrimmage. One hit in particular late in the scrimmage on Matt Stewart got the crowd excited.

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