Running Game Highlights Second Scrimmage

Eugene -- It was a beautiful day during Saturday's practice, as the Ducks put on their pads and took part in their second scrimmage of the spring. The defense's dominance so far this spring didn't translate to today's scrimmage; however it was clear that they remain a few steps ahead of the offense…unless LaGarette Blount is on the field, that is.

"I was hyped up," Blount said about the hours leading up to Oregon's scrimmage. "I was ready to scrimmage. I was talking to Coach Campbell, saying, ‘Hey, let me get some.' He just said, ‘Your time is coming.' When I went in there, I just wanted to get a couple of good runs."

Blount led the scrimmage in rushing, carrying the ball 10 times for 59 yards and a touchdown. The highlight of the day, other than a 53-yard field goal by Matt Evensen, occurred when Blount walloped defensive back Willie Glasper at the line of scrimmage and carried several defenders on his way to a 17-yard gain, giving the offense a third-down conversion. Blount's bruising running style allowed him to run for gains of 11, 11, 12 and 17 yards.

Despite his early success, Blount claims that the Division I game hasn't slowed down for him much: he's just simply hitting the hole when it's there and delivering punishment.

"I wouldn't say the game has slowed down for me," Blount said. "I've just been trying to speed my game up a little bit more, and now I'm feeling really good about the offense and my progress. Coach Campbell told me I'm going to get a lot of playing time, there's not doubt about it. It's up to me how much playing time I'm going to get, though."

Reminding fans that Blount isn't the only tailback set to take a major step forward, Andre Crenshaw and Remene Alston also ran well. Crenshaw picked up the only other touchdown of the scrimmage with a two-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust run, while Alston had several good-sized gains, including carries of 8 and 11 yards.

This quartet may not be The Four Horsemen, but there is little doubt that all four tailbacks are set to make a splash this fall with their complementary skill-sets: the speed of Crenshaw and Alston, the stiff-arm guru and NFL-fated Johnson and the bruising newcomer Blount.

"It's the perfect combination," Blount explained. "When J.J. comes back, it's going to be devastating. It's going to be like Jonathan Stewart and Jeremiah Johnson all over again. They say I got kind of a punishing style like Stewart. I'm not as good as him yet, I can say that myself, but the running game is going to be good."

Unfortunately for Chip Kelly, the quarterbacks were a different story.

Justin Roper threw an interception to Kevin Garrett on the opening play of the scrimmage, and Cody Kempt continued to look lost in a scrimmage that featured zero touchdown passes and two interceptions.

The freshmen quarterbacks both had running plays that were Dennis Dixon-esque. Darron Thomas rolled out of the pocket for an 8-yard gain, while Chris Harper avoided the rush on numerous occasions, including an 11-yard scamper that led to a Blount touchdown run on the ensuing play.

Roper remained confident after the scrimmage, although he seemed disappointed with the offense's performance overall.

"I think we played at a pretty decent pace," Roper said. "We had a lot of turnovers, which we need to work on, but for the most part, we made the right reads. We just have some minor details to work on and improve."

The defense gave up a few-too-many yards on the ground, but overall they were pleased with the turnovers they forced.

The first-unit defense has yet to have all its starters healthy for a single down this spring – Will Tukuafu missed today's practice with a leg injury to keep the ominous streak alive – which has the defense looking toward the future.

"Today, we went in there and showed a lot of great effort and did some great things, but we should have stopped the run a little bit better," Senior Ra'Shon Harris said. "Next week will be a whole lot better."

Harris also provided a prediction for the upcoming season.

"We're trying to be one of the best defenses in the nation," he said, before making sure he was perfectly clear. "I said, ‘In the nation."

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