Roper, Blount Shine In Spring Game

The Oregon offense had its best day of the spring today as the White Team, led by Justin Roper and LeGarrette Blount, won handily 36-3.

On the White offense's first play from scrimmage Roper connected on a pass over the middle to Ed Dickson for a 67-yard strike. On the ensuing play, Roper scampered into the endzone for an 8-yard touchdown, setting the tone for the White offense for the remainder of the game.

Not to be outdone, Blount's first run went for 32 yards. He mowed over several defenders and carried a pile the final five yards in a play that added to an already impressive highlight reel after only four weeks in an Oregon uniform. Blount ended the day as the game's leading rusher, gaining 68 yards on five rushes – an average of 13.6 yards per carry.

"I'm pretty impressed with my performance today," Blount said. "I love to just run up in there against the guys. We've been going back-and-forth at it all week. The green team has won it the last few years, and I told the guys, ‘That's going to change today.' I didn't score any touchdowns, but still, it was nice. I loved it. Overall, I think I did pretty good in the spring game."

Although Blount ran a spread option offense in high school and junior college, he attributes much of his success in picking up the Oregon offense to Jeremiah Johnson.

"He's been taking me through everything," Blount explained. "I have pretty much been getting the offense faster than anybody else, because after we get out of meetings (Johnson and I) go home – I'm living with him – and he tells me I got to do this or that right, regardless of whether I had a good practice or not. He tells me what I need to improve on. When I first got (to Oregon) he came to me and said, ‘You're going to be good, so I got to get you right before we start (the season).' He said, ‘It's going to be just like me and J-Stew were."

The three White team quarterbacks – Roper, Cody Kempt and Cade Cooper – combined to go 11-of-23 for 109 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Roper connected for the first passing touchdown of the game on a 10-yard wide receiver screen to Jaison Williams, while Kempt hooked up with Elvis Akpla for a short touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, and Cooper added a touchdown on the ground. Kempt threw the White team's sole interception, teh final play of the game.

Chip Kelly, coach of the White team, wasn't quick to hand out compliments about the quarterbacks' performances after the contest, and seemed to hint about the future of the Oregon depth chart.

"Overall, we were better than we were (in last week's scrimmage)," Kelly said. "I'm not worried about our passing game. Nate Costa didn't play this spring, so we're going to be fine."

Although Costa has been forced to sit out of contact drills – he didn't participate in today's game – his consistency when throwing the ball, and his work ethic allow him to remain near the top of the depth chart.

"I'm doing everything I can," said Costa. "I'm watching game film and taking as many reps as I can in every way that I can. I think I still need to get my knee 100 percent and get cleared by the doctors so that I can get out there."

The Green team appeared as though they could have used Costa's services, as they registered only three points.

However, despite failing to get into the endzone, both freshman quarterbacks showed the ability to move the offense with their playmaking abilities. Darron Thomas had an 11-yard scamper, while Harper scrambled his way to 67 yards on 14 carries, including a 27-yard carry that led to the Green team's only scoring drive of the game. Both quarterbacks' running totals were reduced significantly by sacks. Despite several dazzling runs, Harper remained unsatisfied with his play.

"The offense fits my style, which is one of the big reasons I came here," Harper said. "I thought (the Division I level) was going to be a lot faster than it actually is. The hardest thing for me is reading the coverages. We should have executed the passing game a little better."

Harper and Thomas combined to go 5-of-22 for 90 yards, with no touchdowns and one interception. The bulk of those yards came on a ball thrown by Harper that resulted in a 53-yard one-handed catch by Malachi Lewis shortly before the half. Thomas threw the interception when defensive tackle Ra'Shon Harris pulled a pass out of the air at the line of scrimmage, setting the White team up for a 1st and Goal at the 10.

The passing game woes are to be expected from two young quarterbacks who just arrived on campus after graduating from their respective high schools early. More importantly, both proved Saturday that it is only a matter of time before they become playmakers in Kelly's spread option attack.


NOTES: Several recruits were in attendance at the game as part of their Junior Day experience, including Jerry Rice Jr., Charles Siddoway, Desmond Trufant (brother of Seattle Seahawk, Marcus), Taylor Hart and Jemari Roberts, among many others.

Several former Ducks were in attendance, most notably Dennis Dixon, who went undrafted in the first two rounds on the NFL Draft.

"I'm just going to continue doing what I'm doing, having fun and trying not to watch the draft," Dixon said. "I'm happy for my boy Jonathan Stewart, though."

Asked about the Web site, he said: "I think (the Web site) helped a lot. It showed teams how my knee is progressing and shows how dedicated I am. I'm ahead of schedule, and that's the number one question NFL teams have."

Dixon also mentioned that a couple teams have talked to him about whether he'd be open to playing receiver, to which Dixon responded that he feels like he can be a good quarterback at the next level, but just wants a chance to play in the NFL.


eDuck Top Stories