Freshman Aaron Gipson Is A Starter

Last year, Aaron Gipson was a high school senior and played football for Etiwanda High School in Alta Loma, California. Last Saturday, Gipson was playing football for the Oregon Ducks. Aaron not only was playing, but his efforts in fall camp earned him a start as a corner back against Mississippi State in the Ducks season opener. Oregon beat MSU 36-13 and demonstrated total dominance over the Southeastern Conference foe.

A major question asked prior to the season was who would replace someone like Rashad Bauman? Don Essig, the stadium announcer at Autzen Stadium, announced a mild surprise when he called Gipson's name as a starting corner back just prior to the start of the MSU game.

Gipson was one of eight players that made their first start against MSU. Gipson was the only true freshman to start, but also seeing playing time as a true freshman was corner back Marcus Binns and tailback Terrence Whitehead. Gipson was happy to have the chance to start but was quick to recognize that the Oregon Ducks have many talented players who can contribute. Steven Moore started at the opposite corner back, but other players such as Charles Favroth, Binns and Courtney Miller also played a role in the effort at corner back.

"Just because I'm the starter doesn't mean the other guys can't come in and get the job done," said Gipson.

One thing that helped Gipson in the game was the fact the Oregon coaching staff had confidence in Gipson's play. For the young freshman that was a tremendous boost. Head Coach Mike Bellotti indicated after the game that he thought Gipson played very well for his first start. Bellotti said that last year Gipson was riding the proverbial "yellow school bus" and this year Gipson is playing in front of 50,000 screaming fans. A big change for sure and when asked of his impressions of the Autzen Stadium experience, Gipson said at first he wasn't sure what to expect when he came out of the tunnel. Once he came out of the tunnel and heard the roar of the crowd he had a feeling for what the Bulldogs might be thinking.

"You can't even hear yourself on the field, it's tough," said Gipson. "I feel sorry for the offense on the opposing school."

Gipson played well in a defense that shut down MSU's running game. The Bulldogs only managed to rush for 31 yards for the game. MSU did generate 192 yards of passing offense, but most of the passing yardage was gained in the second half when the contest was well decided. Gipson recorded one solo tackle and was credited with three tackle assists. One of the assisted tackles was for loss. Aaron acknowledged that he has much to learn yet and looks at the Mississippi game as an educational experience, and he wants to improve every game.

"I thought it was a learning experience and next game I want to come out and do better," said Gipson. "Hopefully get a pick."

Last season, one of the leaders of the defense was Bauman who is now with the Washington Redskins. Bauman was selected as an All Pac-10 corner back last season and was known as a fierce competitor. Replacing Bauman's leadership and field contributions was a big task for the Ducks headed into this season. Bauman saw significant playing time as a true freshman and Gipson believes that Bauman set a good standard to measure up to.

"Rashad Bauman is a great football player," remarked Gipson. "If I'm half as good as him I'll be alright"

Based on his first outing, Gipson is measuring up well to Bauman, and all indications suggest Gipson will be doing quite nicely indeed. Oregon will meet Fresno State on Saturday, September 7th. Kickoff is scheduled for 12:30 p.m.

Notes:

Coach Bellotti indicated in his weekly phone conference the status of the following for Saturday's game:

Ramone Reed will play against FSU.
Haloti Ngata will be available against FSU.
Erik Cheney will play against FSU.
Ryan Shaw will not play.
Keith Allen will not play.
Robert Hamilton is lost for the season as a result of a torn ACL during practice yesterday.
Justin Andrews tore his ACL against MSU and is out for the season.


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