Duck Starters Wallop Backups 51-3

The University of Oregon's first team football players, the green team, dominated the backup players, the white team, on a partly sunny Saturday at Portland's newly renovated PGE Park winning the annual Spring game 51-3. The fast-paced game that forego kick-offs and stopping the clock proved to the attending 12,524 Oregon fans that the Ducks, who finished second in the nation last year by routing Colorado in the Fiesta Bowl, haven't lost their touch for making big plays.

They scored on long bombs, on interceptions, even on a 50-yard field goal.

"The guys I expected to make plays did," said Oregon coach Mike Bellotti. "I was pleased that Sammy (Parker) and Onterrio (Smith) showed up and made individual plays. I was pleased with Jason's (Fife) progress."

Parker, a junior wide receiver and starter last year, finished with seven receptions for 143 yards and two touchdowns. Smith, a junior tailback and 1,000-yard gainer last year as a backup to Maurice Morris, gained only 29 yards rushing in limited first half appearances, but did reel in a 10-yard touchdown pass. Fourth-year junior quarterback Fife had his best showing ever as a Duck. Alternating green team series with redshirt freshman quarterback Kellen Clemens, Fife completed 12 of 15 pass attempts for 217 yards and four touchdowns. After stalling in the red zone and accepting a 26-yard field goal from sophomore kicker Jared Siegel in his first series, Fife lead his squad to touchdowns on every subsequent series in which he participated. In addition to throwing highlight film touchdown passes to Parker (twice), Smith and junior tight end George Wrighster, Fife demonstrated that he can be elusive if he needs to be. On a third and two play in the second quarter Fife rushed for 32 yards and would have scored had it not been for the superb effort of white team sophomore free safety Stephen Clayton who ran Fife down from behind.

"I think he (Fife) made a huge statement today and he made a huge stride," said Bellotti. "The question to me is how does he keep working in the next three months to prepare us and himself for the season. And what does Kellen do and what does Voss (junior quarterback Scott Vossmeyer who led the white team) do. Voss toughed it out today with a bad shoulder and made some outstanding individual plays and didn't get a lot of help. Our second and third level players need to continue to work very hard to improve and create competition that's going to make us better."

Although the green team offense was clearly a level beyond the white team defense one has to wonder at their potential if senior wide receivers Keenan Howry and Jason Willis held out due to injury could have played. Also, the green team only managed 109 yards net rushing behind a thin offensive line missing sophomore tackle Adam Snyder.

Clemens did not play as well as expected in his appearances at quarterback following spring practice where he had risen to compete head-to-head with Fife, completing eight of 13 attempts for 72 yards and a touchdown but giving up five sacks. It was obvious he wasn't as comfortable as Fife in the pocket or as sharp on his passes, for example missing a wide-open Parker for a sure touchdown in the second quarter.

"I think Kellen today at times was a little bit lost and I think that's indicative of being a freshman," said Bellotti.

"I still don't think that the job (quarterback) is outright won yet," said Parker. "We have to wait for the fall to see who's going to be our quarterback."

The white team could only manage three points for the day by converting a 50-yard field goal in the second quarter by senior punter Jose Arroyo. In the fourth quarter the white team gave up a 57-yard interception to Clayton (then playing green team defense) for a touchdown and a 45-yard interception to redshirt freshman cornerback Justin Phinisee that also resulted in a touchdown, the last score of the game.

The green team defense stymied the white team offense throughout the game despite not having the services of several key players including junior linebacker Kevin Mitchell, and senior defensive ends Quinn Dorsey and Darrell Wright. Much ballyhooed sophomore defensive end Roderkus Wright was also held out for academic reasons. Sophomore tackle Igor Olshansky contributed nine tackles including two sacks for 10 yards and senior rover Rasuli Webster had eight tackles and one sack. Senior linebacker David Moretti recorded six tackles and a sack.

"I think we again have the makings of being a pretty good football team," said Bellotti. "I don't know that we jelled. I think we had more big plays than we had the kind of jelling that I want. Certainly there is a lot of work to be done in a lot of places. I just told our kids what happens now from this point on is most important. They know what they need to work on both individually and as a group. A lot of it falls on them now - their chemistry, their unity, and their work ethic."

When asked by a television reporter if anything less than a national championship would be a disappointment, Bellotti laughed and suggested, "let's take it one game at a time."

Notes:

Other than a few dings there were no significant injuries reported directly following the game.

Although it would appear that the starting quarterback, depth at offensive line, and a productive running game are still question marks heading into fall, the Ducks do seem to have answered questions regarding fullback and cornerback. Juniors Josh Rogers and Matt Floberg and sophomore Ryan Loftin all looked capable at the fullback position each catching passes during the game and showing excellent efforts. At cornerback, Phinisee and junior Steven Moore clearly stood out, but junior Courtney Miller and sophomore Charles Favroth also played well. The Ducks appear to have solid depth and talent at these positions and only lack experience.

Some other players who made some nice plays and should be watched this fall include sophomore linebacker Jerry Matson, redshirt freshman defensive end Devan Long, senior defensive tackle Eric Johnson, who led the white defense with nine tackles and a sack.


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