Notes From Spring Practice: Day 10

Physicality and fiery contention marked Day 10 of spring practice. With the treasured black jerseys on the line during a rare Monday competition day, the intensity was ratcheted up once again and emotions were running high.

1. The defense won today's competition day for the second time this spring. After dominating the offense for much of practice, Coach Kelly asked the defense if they were willing to wager their considerable lead over the offense on the final play of the day. The defense accepted the challenge, and dropped the offense for a loss in the backfield to secure the black jerseys for this week. "We gave them a 30 point play," stated Oregon head coach Chip Kelly, "The only incentive I could figure out -- I did it on the run -- was they [the winning side] could wear the black jerseys during the scrimmage. I like that they didn't question it, they went right away. They could have sat on their lead and kind of ran the clock out, but they accepted it right away and stopped them...that talks to their competitiveness."

2. Chris Harper was seen taking a few reps at running back today, spelling Andre Crenshaw this morning with LeGarrette Blount (right ankle) and Remene Alston (left foot) on the sidelines wearing walking boots. According to Kelly, while Blount's injury is nothing more than a minor re-aggravation of his previous ankle injury, Alston's foot injury, it appears, will keep him out for the rest of the spring. "He's out for the rest of the spring," claimed Kelly, "I don't really know much more besides that." Harper looked very solid rushing the football -- displaying the same kind of speed and physicality that he brings to the wide receiver position -- and it's becoming increasingly apparent that he will be deployed in a variety of different ways this upcoming season. "It's good that Chris kind of gets to cross-train and we had planned on using him anyways in there," said Kelly rather matter-of-factly, "we're not playing a game, so when you have some injuries like that you just get an opportunity for some guys to make plays and see what they can do."

3. Eddie Pleasant, Aaron Pflugrad, and Darron Thomas were all singled out by Coach Kelly today for their impressive work this spring. "Eddie, Aaron, Darron Thomas are probably the three kids coming out of the winter program -- and Mark Asper -- that were unbelievable. And so it's just carrying over. What they did, starting when they got back in January, is paying off for them now that we're on the field in April...they've had great springs. They had great scrimmages, but they also had eight great practices up before that." Pflugrad and Pleasant, in particular, stood on Monday. Pflugrad had another outstanding outing today, catching the ball in traffic and exhibiting a knack for getting behind the defense for long catches and Pleasant, as of late, has been playing like a man possessed, showing a terrific nose for the football and freakish sideline-to-sideline quickness that has allowed him to make plays all over the field. "The one thing with Eddie," stated Kelly, "is that he's going to play hard. He's brings a certain physicalness to that position, he's got tremendous speed, and he's just such a great character guys that he's going to play hard all the time."

4. Today's practice was not only arguably the most physical session of the spring, but it was without a doubt, the most heated, emotionally. On consecutive plays during 11-on-11's, cornerback Kenjon Barner and wide receiver Lavasier Tuinei were seen mixing it up pretty good after the whistle had blown, exchanging shoves to the helmet and strong language. Same thing in the case of tight end Dion Jordan and defensive end Tyrell Irvin, who were engaged in similar extracurricular activities after Jordan felt Irvin was a little late on a hit after a play had ended. "I told them to get after it between the whistle," said Kelly, "after the whistle means nothing. Number one, it's a penalty. Number two, you [the player] must not be happy with him [the opposing player] cause he did something to you while the play was going on...I like their competitiveness, but I want them to do it in the right frame." Speaking of hits, the hit of the day also came during 11-on-11's when Jamere Holland was absolutely lambasted courtesy of T.J. Ward on a slightly overthrown pass downfield. Ward is a true assassin in the secondary, and his abilities as an enforcer appear to be well in midseason form.

5. Jeremiah Masoli and Justin Roper looked very accurate today, with their steady, cerebral play evidently carrying over from Saturday's scrimmage. Kelly mentioned that it appears to him that both Masoli and Roper are beginning to separate themselves somewhat from the rest of the pack at QB. While there weren't an inordinate amount of big plays in the downfield passing game today, both guys were very sharp with their short and intermediate passes, both in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11's

Odds and Ends: Spencer Paysinger returned to practice today and was running with the first string defense for much of the day. Paysinger had missed the last couple weeks of practice due to a lower leg injury suffered earlier in the spring. Additionally, tight end Mychal Rivera has also decided to transfer. Kelly didn't specify reasons for Rivera's decision, but one could reasonably assume that the tremendous depth currently on the Oregon roster at tight end was a contributing factor. Kelly stated that Rivera will not transfer to another school within the Pac-10 conference.

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