Fife Is Ready

Jason Fife waited patiently for three years for his turn to come up and last Saturday against the Mississippi State Bulldogs in front of 56,386 fans in the newly expanded Autzen Stadium, he finally got his chance to show what he can do. Oh Baby, did he show what he could do: running, passing, catching a blocked field goal attempt and most importantly leading his team to a 36-13 win.

Fife showed not only could he throw the ball with a great touch, but he also demonstrated his ability to scramble out of the grasp of on-rushing defensive linemen and when called upon to flat run the ball as another potential weapon in the Oregon running game. Fife's first game statistics are impressive. He was 14 of 27 for 166 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions and he rushed for an additional touchdown. When his number was called on to run the ball he did so and had one rush for 12 yards. Not bad for his first collegiate start, and what is scary is that because the Ducks put the game away so quickly, the Oregon coaching staff closed up their playbook.

"It did get restricted once we jumped up 27-0," said Offensive Coordinator Andy Ludwig of the Mississippi State game plan. "Our horns were pulled back and we didn't show all of our cards."

Oregon Head Coach Mike Bellotti had praises for Fife after the Ducks' win on Saturday. Bellotti observed that Fife along with the great physical assets, Fife has good judgement and decision making abilities. Bellotti indicated he thought that Fife's performance showed his running and passing talent. Perhaps the biggest revelation Bellotti made about Fife is what the head coach believes the rest of the team thinks of Fife.

"He has earned the respect of his teammates," said Bellotti.

As the Ducks prepare for their game with Fresno State on Saturday, September 7th, more plays may be available to utilize Fife's obvious physical talents. At 6-4, 224, and reportedly runs the 40-yard dash in 4.59 seconds, Fife's physical prowess is enviable. The first time many fans saw his foot speed was at the spring scrimmage game held at Portland's Civic Stadium when he burst out on a long run. Since then the word has been out that Fife can add some more nightmares for opposing coaching staffs. Fresno State's Pat Hill has already recognized that fact as the Fresno Bee reported that Hill was particularly impressed with Fife's performance against Mississippi State. Ludwig, who came to Oregon last winter after spending four seasons as the offensive coordinator at Fresno State, thinks that Fife did an excellent job of running the team against MSU.

"He did an excellent job of managing the football team," said Ludwig of Fife. "I'm very pleased."

Ludwig has experience in developing quarterbacks. During his four years at Fresno State Ludwig worked hard developing David Carr who ended up being the first player selected in the NFL draft last spring. Does Fife compare favorably with Carr? Ludwig is not answering that question directly, as the coach would prefer not to make comparisons. What Ludwig will say however is that Fife accepts coaching and is willing to put in the hard work of preparation that is necessary to play at the Division I level.

"I know Jason will look at the tapes," said Ludwig. " He'll identify what needs to be improved upon."

Fife and his teammates have a short workweek in preparation for Fresno State, and Ludwig indicated Fife was anxious to start getting ready for Fresno State. Oregon showed a very balanced offense against MSU. Junior running back Onterrio Smith ran for 124 yards on 28 carries, and the Oregon offense actually had 53 running plays compared to 27 passing plays against MSU. Fife believed that the Oregon offense gained a great deal of confidence in itself with the win over Mississippi State.

"If the offense does well against an SEC team," said Fife. "That builds confidence."

Oregon heads into the game ranked 13th nationally. A win over the always tough Bulldogs of Fresno State could help the Ducks move up in the polls, but more importantly the game will provide a valuable gauge on how good is the team and particularly how good is starting quarterback, Jason Fife. All indications are that Fife is on his way to become the next big star of Oregon football, and the three years of waiting in the wings will pay off for Fife and for the Duck fans. Kickoff for the Saturday's contest is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. The game will be carried on Fox Sports Network. The Oregon Sports Network will also broadcast the game on the radio.

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