Notes from Fall Camp: Day 2

The Duck secondary ruled the day during the second practice of Oregon's 2009 Fall Camp. Virtually every member of the defensive backfield made a notable play this afternoon; offering tremendous promise as the season approaches.

1. The story of the day was the performance by the Oregon secondary. Questions surrounding this particular unit and their ability to rebound following the loss of Patrick Chung and Jairus Byrd to the NFL were addressed today as players such as Walter Thurmond, Talmadge Jackson, Willie Glasper, and John Boyett were seen flying around the field and making plays. Jackson's performance, in particular, was especially impressive as he had a number of pass breakups both in 11-on-11's and 7-on-7's. "I noticed Talmadge Jackson a few times today," said Oregon head coach Chip Kelly, "He really made some plays in the middle of the field, which we thought he could do...I'm starting to feel a little bit better about the depth we have in the secondary." Kelly credited the outstanding play and preparedness of the secondary to seniors Thurmond and T.J. Ward, who appear to have taken the onus upon themselves to provide the unit with strong play and quality leadership.

2. The quarterbacks threw much better today and would have had better completion numbers if it weren't for the stellar play of the secondary. Jeremiah Masoli and Nate Costa look like mirror images of each other as they stand in the pocket, with both players delivering well thrown balls to receivers with appropriate velocity and accuracy throughout the practice. Costa was arguably the more remarkable player today as he demonstrated great mobility being flushed out of the pocket and precision passing when he had time to throw. The biggest play of the day came on a sequence when Costa was forced out of the pocket to the left, throwing against momentum downfield to a streaking Lavasier Tuinei. Costa hit Tuinei in stride for a big gain, attracting oohs and ahhs from both the players and the spectators in attendance. While the quarterback play certainly improved from day one to day two, Kelly wasn't quick to heap on generous praise. "They're getting better," said Kelly, "They just have to learn to take what the defense gives them and really manage the game. I think a couple of times they're holding on to the ball a little bit [too long] and they're getting flushed. But they're waiting for guys to get open, instead of throwing to the guy that is open...they're getting better at the end of practice than they were at the beginning of practice, so they're listening. Helf (Oregon Quarterbacks Coach, Mark Helfrich) is doing a really good job with those guys."

3. Redshirt freshman running back, LaMichael James continued his solid play today and was able to receive support from some of his talented stablemates in the backfield. LeGarrette Blount and Andre Crenshaw both had very solid outings today, with Blount appearing to play with more energy and desire than was seen on Friday. In addition to having a numbers of fine runs this afternoon, Blount was also a surprising force as a receiver coming out of the backfield, catching a number of passes from Masoli during the final 11-on-11 session of the day. As far as any lingering injury concerns that may have lingered from Friday, Blount appeared completely healthy and totally unaffected by any potential ailments.

4. Dion Jordan, Diante Jackson, Blake Cantu, and Lavasier Tuinei all stood out today from the receiver position. Jordan, in particular, had a great all-around day as he exhibited great route-running ability and terrific hands and athleticism when the ball was thrown his way. Kelly pointed out Jordan after practiced, crediting much of Jordan's success thus far this fall to Ed Dickson's willingness to take Jordan under his wing. "[Dickson] has done a real good job of mentoring Dion Jordan. I think Dion is going be a really good player for us. He's young, he's raw, but he's got a ton of athletic ability and he really wants to be a good football player."

5. The overall play from the linebackers in coverage today was also welcomed surprise. Specifically, Spencer Paysinger really stood out with his effort in 3-on-2's and 11-on-11's. Paysinger has a innate ability to read the quarterback's eyes and get his hands on the football. On one 3-on-2 series, Paysinger registered a pass breakup and an interception while displaying superb coverage skills on both tight ends and running backs throughout 11-on-11's. Sophomore Josh Kaddu and true freshman Michael Clay also had some nice moments in pass coverage today, coming up with a few plays that would have resulted in turnovers if not for dropping the ball.

Odds and Ends: Tyrece Gaines, Jeff Maehl, and Javes Lewis were all limited today as all three look to rebound from some bumps and bruises...Remene Alston was seen wearing the red, non-contact jersey for the first time today as he aims to be fully healthy for the start of the season after suffering a broken foot in the spring...True freshman, Daryle Hawkins, has looked very comfortable at quarterback in two practices thus far, displaying great touch and timing with his receivers...True freshman punter, Jackson Rice, appeared much more in rhythm today as he cleanly handled all of his snaps and got off some well-struck punts...Carson York and Charlie Carmichael receives some reps at center today in an effort to "develop more depth" at the position according to Coach Kelly. Jordan Holmes still remains the strong favorite to be the starting center at the beginning of the season.

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