Would Fill Interim Position If Needed

Oregon's Mike Bellotti answered questions from media on Saturday afternoon and revealed he would act as interim Athletic Director if asked, but has not discussed the matter with anyone. He also indicated if he could, he would hire a Special Teams coach if he could plus he regrets the fact that his star running back was not used enough in the Las Vegas Bowl.

For the first time, Bellotti commented on the soon-to-be vacated Athletic Director's position. The current Athletic Director Bill Moos announced on November 29th that he is stepping down from the position he has held for 12 years to pursue other personal and professional interests. Rumors have circulated on eDuck.com's message boards that Bellotti would be made the interim Athletic Director but until day Bellotti has made no comment regarding the matter.

"I would do it on an interim basis to help the administration and the (Athletic) department," said Bellotti.

Bellotti went on to say however that he hasn't talked to anyone about the job.

The head coach brought out several points regarding the Las Vegas Bowl that the Ducks lost 38-8 to BYU. The headman does not think Jonathan Stewart was used enough and that was a mistake on the part of the Oregon coaching staff.

"Jonathan Stewart did not get a lot of opportunities," Bellotti said of Stewart's performance last Thursday night. "I lament that."

Stewart came up just 19 yards short of a 1,000-yard rushing season when he only carried the ball seven times for net 21 yards. Stewart finished the season with a net 981 yards on 183 carries, 10 touchdowns and a 75.5-yard per game average and had five games in which he rushed for 100 yards. In fact Oregon every time Stewart rushed for at least 100 yards in a game the Ducks won. Conversely in all but two games in which the big running back was held under 100 yards, Oregon lost. The Washington game was most productive for Stewart. He carried the ball 25 times and had 159 yards and two touchdowns. There were only two other games in 2006 besides the Las Vegas Bowl that Stewart did not have more than 10 carries. Against Fresno State, Stewart had one carry for three yards and a touchdown. Against Portland State, Stewart's playing time was reduced when he was injured the second time he carried the ball. He only rushed for eight yards in that game.

After the Las Vegas Bowl,Offensive Coordinator Gary Crowton indicated that he would find ways to get Stewart more involved in the offense. One of the most glaring plays of the game was when the Ducks found themselves 3rd-and-1 on their own 39-yard line. Rather than line Stewart up and attempt to convert the yard for a first down, the Ducks decided to take Stewart out. Quarterback Dennis Dixon kept the ball and ran straight ahead. The result was that Dixon was tackled short of the first down and the drive stalled.

Other points regarding the Las Vegas Bowl game was that Bellotti thought his defense started out strong but the offense did not support the defense with good play. He also felt the quarterback and receiver play was poor and he also believes that Dante Rosario recovered the on-side kick in the fourth quarter. The play was not reviewed but was an eerie reminder of the on-side kick Oregon recovered against Oklahoma that paved the way to the Ducks making an amazing 34-33 comeback victory.

While the loss and disappointing ending to the 2006 season has the eDuck message boards and chat room buzzing, Bellotti indicated it is time for his team to put the matter behind and move on.

"We need to get over dwelling too much about it," said of the disappointments.

Some of Bellotti's observations of the season include that the quarterback position failed to improve. He also thinks that the Ducks had problems returning punts and that the defensive line play did not get better as the season went along.

Nest spring expect quarterback Nate Costa to challenge for a greater role in 2007. Costa saw limited action during the season but demonstrated a rifle arm and good quickness in avoiding tacklers.

"Nate Costa will compete for playing time in the spring," Bellotti announced.

One area that was a weakness for the Ducks all season was special teams. Bellotti would like to cure that problem with an additional coach.

"I would like to hire a Special Teams coach," admitted Bellotti. "That would be my choice if I could to that."

Bellotti is miffed at the Eugene Register-Guard over an item that was published last Thursday and can be found online at: Ducks and Cougars chase jackpot. Bellotti adamantly took exception to the item and demanded an apology and retraction as he feels his character has been impugned.

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