Practice Report for Tuesday, 8-15-06

Eugene, Ore. -- With only 18 days until kickoff against Stanford, the Oregon Ducks hit Papè Field on a perfect afternoon. A light breeze and 75 degrees of sun gave the players a perfect opportunity to show why they belong on the starting units. Several players shined on this day, while many showed that the next 17 days of practice will be of the utmost importance for fine-tuning their skills.

Players of the Day:
-Freshman QB Nathan Costa: Although Costa made his fair share of true freshman mistakes, it is clear why most onlookers have slotted him for the #3 QB. Every ball he threw today was catchable, albeit an occasional knockdown by a defensive back. The throw of the day came from Costa as he hit WR Cameron Colvin on a 20-yard rocket through three defenders just as Colvin turned to catch the ball. Freshman rarely make throws like this one, let alone attempt them. Defensive backs coach John Neal yelled out to his guys, "now do you believe me?", likely after he told them to watch out for Costa's arm.

-Sophomore WR Jaison Williams: In my last report, I felt that Williams was not necessarily a "natural" receiver and had to work hard to catch the ball but that he possessed an unnatural advantage in size/strength/speed. Today, Williams was the best receiver on the field and caught every pass in live play that I saw. At 6'5" and 243lbs, Williams is ferocious once he gets the ball in his hands. For him, getting the ball in his hands should be his focus, because once he gets that down… watch out.

-Senior LB Blair Phillips: Phillips was a rock on the defense all day. He was consistent in everything: positioning, reads, speed, and tackling. On one play, QB Dennis Dixon threw to HB AK Ikwuakor, and Phillips laid out parallel to the ground for a diving tip of the ball. The read was impressive, but the athletic ability required for this play was something typically reserved for a 180lb CB, not a 246lb LB.

-Honorable mention goes to true freshman DB Chad Peppars for his FG block. On the play before his block, Peppars sped past the corner of the line and dove for a miss of the block by inches. On the next play, Peppars replicated his previous play but with a step faster, and his dive sent the ball bouncing along the ground for an impressive play. A few plays later, he missed the block by inches again. Oregon typically plays a few true freshman on special teams, and Peppars is a likely candidate with his knack for blocking.

The rest of the team had a solid day, but probably not as sharp as head coach Mike Bellotti desired. QB Brady Leaf had an average day, and while Dixon stood out as "the man", he also didn't have his best day ever. The defense probably won the day overall, but the offense had its moments. A couple more notes for you Duck fans who are hungry for any piece of information on your beloved Ducks:

-Don't confuse sophomore RB Jeremiah Johnson for your typical small and shifty "speed" back as some fans have said. Johnson is very fast, yes, but at 5'9" and 213lbs, Johnson runs with more-than-sufficient power. In comparison, freshman RB Remene Alston Jr. is your typical smaller speed back at 5'9" and 183lbs. Speaking of Alston, he shiftily gained 8-10 yards on back-to-back plays with excellent reads of the holes in the defense.

-The following appeared to be the starting defense: DT's Jeremy Gibbs and Matt Toeaina, DE's Darius Sanders and Victor Filipe, LB's Phillips, Brent Haberly, and Kwame Agyeman, Safeties Patrick Chung and Matthew Harper (in place of J.D. Nelson), and CB's Jackie Bates and Walter Thurmond.

Oregon will hold a scrimmage during practice on Saturday afternoon. Practice starts at 1:30 p.m. and the public is welcome to attend.

eDuck Top Stories