O-Games 2008

The sweltering single practice that took place this afternoon at Pape Field was different from most practices. Sure, the session was marked by the usual drills and the occasional screaming coach, but what made the day particularly special was the continuance of the "O-Games", an annual, time honored Oregon football tradition.

The "O-Games" rarely over-promise and under-deliver and today was no different. On this day, the "O-Games" were kicked off, literally, by handful of Oregon linemen. Blake Ferras, Carson York, and Max Forer, were just a few of the competitors who were seen fielding punts from the JUGS machine on Thursday. All of the participants failed to field the punts successfully, except for Ferras, who managed to bobble the ball a few times before finally corralling it. Safe to say, none of these players will evoke memories of Michael Fletcher or Keenan Howry in the return game anytime soon. The next event was soccer, but with a twist. Two competitors had to don sumo wrestler padded outfits while playing the "world's game" using an over-sized silver exercise ball. The first two to compete were freshman wide receiver, Brody Wilkins, and freshman cornerback, Kenjon Barner. Though it was a tightly contested game, Wilkins came out victorious, executing a beautiful header that would have pleased even the most hardcore soccer fan. The second match pitted LaMichael James against freshman cornerback, Scott Grady. A la the Wilkins-Barner match, it was yet another close game that was finally decided by James, who scored on a sweet breakaway which caused the offensive unit to explode with excitement on the sidelines. Finally, the "O-Games" concluded with a boxing match for the ages, as DeWitt Stuckey, and freshman tight end, Jennings Stewart, squared off in the center of the field wearing enormous boxing gloves. Though it appeared Stuckey had landed some crushing blows to Stewart's head and body, Stewart channeled Rocky Balboa in Rocky I and withstood the barrage of punishment that was being dealt by Stuckey, flattening Stuckey with a vicious right-left combo to achieve the well earned victory.

"It was a lot of fun," exclaimed Oregon Head Coach Mike Bellotti at the conclusion of the "O-Games", "the competitors had to sweat a little bit more but overall no body got hurt, which is always a good thing, and I think some fun was had."

Though the "O-Games" concluded the day's events, there were some things of note during the actual practice. Nate Costa continued to stand out and Jamere Holland had a few nice plays as well, scoring a touchdown in 2-on-3 drills (2 wide receivers 3 defensive backs) where he juked a pair of defenders and accelerated away using his outstanding, world-class speed. Maybe the most impressive player of the day was Aaron Pflugrad. The Sheldon High alum had a number of good catches today where he managed to hold on to the ball while getting effectively leveled by much bigger, stronger defenders. He also had a great play in 7-on-7's where he lined up in the slot and beat his man downfield, catching a terrific pass by Nate Costa that would have went for six.

Notes: For the second consecutive day, Andre Crenshaw was sidelined with strained tendon in his left ankle. He was in a protective boot towards the end of practice today and still remains doubtful to appear in any action before the conclusion of this week. Like Jeff Maehl, Anthony Gildon was not active today as he recovers from a strained hamstring. Both players are day-to-day. Additionally, Marvin Johnson and Justin Roper were absent from most if not all of today's activities. Bellotti said that Johnson, who missed all of practice, has a sore knee and will likely be "full-go" tomorrow and Roper, who participated a little bit earlier in practice, was held out at towards the end to rest his fatigued arm. T.J. Ward returned to the field on Thursday after suffering from some knee soreness himself. Friday's practice is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. at Pape Field.

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