Practicing efficiently may help next week

The upside of a big win on the road in a night game is that it makes your team 6-2 for the season and 4-1 in the Pac-10 race. The downside is that you get home at 3 a.m. and those lucky enough to get to bed by 3:30 find the wake up call for Sunday morning is way too soon.

That's where Mike Bellotti and the Oregon Ducks find themselves after a dominating 54-20 win over Arizona State on Saturday night in a game that began at 7 p.m. The win came off a bye week for both teams, but Oregon was able to take advantage of some great opportunities and had the breaks go its way.

A question asked Bellotti on Sunday night by reporters was what did the Duck coaching staff do to get such an effort out of the team.

"One, they were healthy, two they were rested and three they were anxious to get back to football," replied Bellotti to the question.

The coach cited some examples of breaks that went Oregon's way. Jeremiah Masoli's heads up play when he threw the ball away rather than taking a big loss. LeGarrette Blount's continuing to run and score when ASU thought he was down. The defense keeping ASU out of the endzone when the Sun Devils had the ball at Oregon's 1-yard line.

"We played well and obviously Arizona State didn't play as well as they hoped to," observed Bellotti.

How do the Ducks repeat the performance next Saturday?

Bellotti said that the Ducks didn't have the luxury of returning to Eugene at a decent hour but that's just something they have to deal with. Next week the team will have "to be very efficient" in the way they practice in preparation for a road game against California.

One statistic that is starting to jump out is that the Ducks aren't committing many penalties. What can account for this, team improvement or spread offense or hurry-up style of play?

Why so few penalties?

"I don't think it has anything to do with our offense, I think it is this group of young men who are doing a good job of avoiding negative plays like penalties," Bellotti said of his team. "They're just playing within the rules, playing hard and doing good things that way. We have not put any emphasis, positively or negatively on penalties. We talk about them, but I was actually disappointed in one or two of them that we got yesterday. One an unnecessary roughness -- we should not have done that. So two or three calls a game, I'd like to play without any but the reality is two or three is pretty good."

Another question that came up was the improved passing game. Last night the Ducks threw for a total 233 yards, last week it was 42 yards against UCLA. Bellotti thinks the improvement is because Masoli is maturing into the role of quarterback and learning the system. The coach also mentioned that the starting offense is practicing against the starting defense in practice. This is can be a slippery slope because while running the starters against each other the speed of an actual Pac-10 game can be simulated, there is also a risk of injury.

Another factor that helped the Ducks passing yardage was the fact more receivers were used in the game to keep fresh bodies on the field. As Masoli becomes more comfortable with the team and the offense, his passing numbers will improve asserts the head coach.

Another player that the coaches are trying hard to find more ways of keeping in the game is Chris Harper. Last night Harper broke off a 62-yard run for a touchdown after catching a pass at the line of scrimmage. Harper is in a rotation with Jeffery Maehl and is still learning the ins and outs of being a receiver.

"Chris is one of the best guys with the ball in his hands, we'll continue to find ways to get him the ball," Bellotti said of Harper. "Obviously we want him to be able to play without the football too, knowing how to line up, knowing how to block."

There were no injuries to speak of other than game type bumps and bruises. Bellotti indicated that everyone should be available for practice on Monday or Tuesday.

One player who will not play next week for sure is Terrance Pritchett who is still suspended for violation of unspecified team rules.

Zach Taylor was the short and long snapper in the second half last night after there was a bad snap on a field goal attempt. Bellotti was happy with Evensen's kickoffs and the field goals he made yesterday.

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