Bye Week Spells Relief

A bye has arrived just in time for the Oregon Ducks according to Head Coach Mike Bellotti. The Duck headman indicates there is a long list of players that need the time off to recuperate from playing seven weeks in a row. The task now is to figure out how to give the players the much needed rest while keeping the competitive edge of playing.

Oregon does not have an opponent next Saturday and will see action again on October 25 against the Arizona State Sun Devils in Tempe.

"We got a long list of guys that probably that will not practice this week at all," indicated Bellotti during a question and answer session with media on Sunday night. "They need this time to rest and recover; it is just about across the board."

Among those needing to fly the first-aide flag are Walter Thurmond III, Fenuki Tupou, Jacob Hucko, C.E. Kaiser and Spencer Paysinger. All should be ready to go when the Ducks face Arizona State. For now though, some players will have this next week off and the trick will be how to drill the team so that they don't lose the edge that comes with contact. At the same time Oregon doesn't want to beat up anybody else on the team. That could mean more individual drills. This week the Ducks will have team photos taken on Monday and then will practice normally on Tuesday and Wednesday. On Thursday a scrimmage will be held involving younger players. The team will get along weekend off while the coaches will be busy out recruiting.

A number of questions were asked about the UCLA game. One was what his evaluation of the defense's ability to handle play action? Bellotti thought UCLA used play-action and bootlegged off play action throwing short, underneath and seem routes.

The Duck coach believes his defense was able to slow UCLA's running game down as evidenced by 63 yards the Bruins gained running the ball and that allowed the Ducks to put the clamps down on play-action. Bellotti could only think of a couple instances where the Ducks gave up first downs on play action. He did point out that his team needs to get better in defending the drop back pass but overall, he believes the defense has improved.

"I do think we made some progress at the linebacker and safety position in terms of our eyes, our reads, certainly in the play-action," observed Bellotti. "Having said that we still missed a couple things in the basic drop back game."

Speaking of UCLA Oregon's coach thinks the Bruins are a very athletic team. He describes them as "a very good young team."

"The athletic talent on that team is very, very good," cited Bellotti. "We know that because we tried to recruit half of it."

The are inconsistencies at some positions like quarterback for the Bruins. Bellotti points out that there were about five passes the Ducks could have intercepted last night which he coincidentally matched to the five passes his offense also dropped. Being a young, talented team could spell trouble for upcoming Bruin opponents.

"I think UCLA played hard and never quit," said Bellotti. "They could surprise some people."

One of the plays from last night that has raised several questions was the pass interference call against Jairus Byrd in the third quarter. Byrd was flagged for pass interference which negated an interception. The Bruins were able to continue their drive and score. The pass interference play could have turned the game completely around. Bellotti thinks the pass interference rule as it stands now places the defender at a decide disadvantage.

"It was highway robbery," responded Bellotti to a question about the pass interference call on Byrd. "It was an interception. The interruption of defensive pass interference on a national basis needs to be reviewed because it makes it difficult for a defensive player. That was played as well as you can play it from a textbook standpoint. We'll turn it in as always to the league and get their opinion on it."

Bellotti didn't get a chance to talk to the official making the call.

Another question was about whether there was any consideration of bringing Justin Roper into the game last night to jump start the passing game.

"UCLA decided that they wanted the quarterback to carry the ball as such Jeremiah (Masoli) carried the ball 20-some times," recalled Bellotti. "We also had some designed quarterback draws or runs that he executed very well. Justin (Roper) would not have been able to do that. It was the way the game evolved."

Bellotti also indicated that it was possible that Roper could have done a better job of passing than Masoli in last night's contest.

Both Masoli and Roper are very good quarterbacks in the coach's estimation and the Ducks now have the opportunity to decide if they are a one or two quarterback system. Bellotti is looking for improved play from the wide receivers, better protection from the offensive line and better decision making from the quarterbacks.

Bellotti's halfway point evaluation of the team for this season is he is looking for more consistency. He thinks the team has at different times played great and poorly. For the second half of the season he wants to see continued development and consistency in performance. The bye week will help ease the health issues that have had an effect on the team's performance.

Two other lingering issues were asked about. No decision has yet been made by the coaching staff regarding Eddie Pleasant. Bellotti will make a decision on what disciplinary measure the Ducks e take but that won't happen until after the legal system has run its course. Pleasant was involved in a car accident three weeks ago that resulted in injuries to himself plus Jamere Holland and Darron Thomas. A passanger in another car that was stuck by the car Pleasant was driving was also hurt. None of the injuries were serious however the incident occurred allegedly because of a street race between Pleasant and a driver of another unidentified vehicle.

Nothing has changed on the Na'Derris Ward as the NCAA apparently wants additional paperwork. Bellotti feels Ward has complied with all requests. Oddly enough the NCAA asked Ward if he wanted to withdraw the waiver request which was responded with a simple answer, no. Why did they NCAA make such an inquiry? Bellotti has no idea what the reason was.

Ward had petitioned the NCAA to grant a waiver to the rule that requires a player sit out a season after transferring from one Division I program to another. Ward transferred from Georgia to Oregon this year because of ill health in his family. Ward is originally from Oakland and wanted to be closer to his family on the West Coast.

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