Quarters and Corners

Going into Saturday's Spring Scrimmage, the University of Oregon Ducks were yet to find a starter at quarterback, and at each cornerback position. Although Coach Mike Bellotti has said many times that there will not be a starter named until fall drills, much was learned at today's game about players at each position.

At quarterback, the standout performer today was Jason Fife. The 6-4 junior from Lake Elsinore, California gave the crowd at PGE Park in Portland quite a show, going 12 for 15 for 200 yards and four touchdowns while not throwing one interception or being sacked.

"I've been expecting this because he is a junior. He has made steady progress through the spring," Coach Bellotti said.

Fife showed his ability to put passes right on the money from many distances. His first pass was an out on the left side to Sammie Parker who grabbed the ball and darted up field turning it into a 25-yard gain. Fife hooked up with Parker for six of his seven catches, two of those for scores. The first score was simply a post pattern where Parker got behind junior cornerback Courtney Miller, and Fife delivered it in stride for Parker who took it in for the touchdown. Parker's other touchdown was a 19 yarder from Fife.

"I'm pleased I was able to throw a few touchdowns," Fife said. "The last couple of scrimmages we haven't been able to air it out. It was fun to do that today."

At the start of the second quarter, Fife took a snap from center and ran the option to the left side. Good work by the offensive line created a hole for Fife who turned up field and scampered for 32 yards and a key first down.

Fife also showed great fakes throughout the game. After handing the ball off, he would boot out of it, looking like he had the ball. His play-action fakes were also very good.

Kellen Clemens had a rocky start at quarterback today, but the redshirt-freshman finished the day up well enough, going eight for 13 for 70 yards and a touchdown. Clemens showed good footwork in the pocket, staying alive many times when the defensive line gave a lot of pressure. Even so, Clemens was still sacked three times.

"I've got quite a bit to work on in the off season, but I know what I need to do," Clemens said. "We'll get it done."

Clemens also ran the option well, showing a knack for finding openings, turning what looked like nothing into a five- yard gain on an option play to the right side.

Also getting action at quarterback were sophomore Scott Vossmeyer and true-freshman Matt Kennedy, from Grants Pass. Vossmeyer finished 4-for-10 for 47 yards and one interception. Playing with the second team, Vossmeyer did not have a lot of time to throw, with the likes of Igor Olshansky and David Moretti bearing down on him. Vossmeyer did move around in the pocket well although he did tend to start to scramble before he had to. However, one of those scrambles netted him 36 yards down the sideline, ending the play with a tough stiff-arm to the facemask of an oncoming defensive back.

Looking to the other side of the field, the cornerbacks looked good although a couple did stand out from the group.

Justin Phinisee, a 5-10 redshirt-freshman from Downey, California made quite a few plays during the sixty-minute scrimmage. On the first possession, Phinisee returned the kickoff right through a hole for a 35-yard return. Demonstrating good coverage and run support, Phinisee found his way to two interceptions today, one off of Vossmeyer and the other off of Matt Kennedy. On the second interception, Oregon set up in a zone, with Phinisee over the top. The Oregon defender in the flats deflected a pass intended for an out route, sending it in the direction of Phinisee. Moments before the ball hit the ground, Phinisee grabbed it, and took it all the way to the end zone for another Green Team touchdown.

Sophomore Charles Favroth also had significant playing time at cornerback in today's scrimmage. Favroth displayed good man coverage techniques, and closed quickly on many of the shorter routes the offense ran. Favroth's closing ability also allowed him to get up into run coverage very quickly where he made a few tackles.

Courtney Miller, a 6-2 junior from St. Louis, Missouri and Fort Scott CC received substantial playing time. In the first quarter, Oregon tried to run a screen pass with wide receiver Keith Allen on fourth and short, but Miller closed quickly and stopped the play.

Another cornerback seeing action today was junior Steven Moore from Los Angeles, California. Moore not only returned punts for the Green Team, but showed good man to man coverage techniques today.

"Nothing is set in stone," Justin Phinisee said. "We've got a long summer ahead of us. We've got some great corners coming into camp."

If anything, that seemed to be the theme today. Nothing is definite, and we will have to wait until fall drills to find out who is starting at cornerback and quarterback. However, today gave a glimpse into what Oregon's future holds at these key positions.

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