The Ducks started practice off with an 11-on-11 session that quickly raised the heat of the Mo Center to what the weather outside should have been during the middle of August. The session resulted in a lot of trash talking between the offensive unit and the defensive unit. Junior Walter Thurmond III and senior Jaison Williams seemed to be the most involved in the playful trash talking.
Senior Patrick Chung was all over the field making plays during the first session this morning as was his backup, Sophomore Marvin Johnson. Both players showed great skill at locating the ball mid-air and then making a play on it and thus preventing the wide out from hauling it in.
When the Ducks converged for their second session of offense vs. defense onlookers and players sitting out got a very interesting look at where Chris Harper was practicing. Harper moved from the quarterback drills and slid into the slot for wide receiver drills. This isn't a first for the freshman Harper, but this was the most extensive amount of time he spent at a position outside of quarterback. He performed well hauling in a few streaks up field but missed on a couple too. It's clear he is one of the better athletes on the team and the Ducks' staff appears to be looking for ways to get Harper in the game outside of quarterback.
Harper wasn't the only player to draw interesting raves from Offensive Coordinator Chip Kelly during the early part of practice. JC transfer Ellis Krout was given great praise from Kelly after a great route that ended with Sophomore Justin Roper hitting Krout right in stride as he glided up the seam for a big gain.
"You got a shot Ellis," Kelly told Krout. "Two weeks ago you weren't making that play!"
Sophomore Aaron Pflugrad hauled in another great throw from Roper down the sideline that got Kelly excited as he told Roper, "You gotta take chances and when its there he's (Pflugrad) gonna get it."
Right before special teams the defensive backs and skill players on the offense hooked up for a quick seven on seven sessions. Freshman Chris Harper had the best play during the short session as he hit a walk on wide out down the sideline 35 yards for a touchdown. The entire team started shouting and clapping, including the coaching staff as Harper showed no sign of his shoulder injury on the throw and the ball was a perfect tight spiral that hit the receiver over the shoulder and right in stride. Without knowing who threw the ball you'd think an experienced veteran would have thrown it.
The team conducted a heated 11-on-11 drill that quickly came to a halt however when JC transfer LaGarrette Blount attempted to jump over a fallen lineman when he got smacked by an oncoming linebacker in the knee and went down in agony. It quickly got the attention of the coaching staff and everyone inside the Mo Center as the place came to a stand still. After a few minutes he got up from the ground and walked off the field and into the training room. After some testing Blount came back out with no signs of an injury and told Head Coach Mike Bellotti he was fine and went back into practice.
The event quickly showed how someone so good could have his season ended in a second with a knee injury. It was a scare no one hopes to see again.
Practice moved into the Mo.
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