Notes from Fall Camp: Day 5

The first day of full pads was the first "competition" day for the Oregon football team on Tuesday. While the defense was in control for most of the day, offense rallied big late, overcoming their deficit and ultimately defeating the defense 133-129 to earn the coveted black jerseys.

1. The offense had a very solid day today overall. Both Jeremiah Masoli and Nate Costa were accurate in locating and delivering passes to receivers. Jamere Holland, Rory Cavaille, Garrett Embry, Lavasier Tuinei, and D.J. Davis all stood out today at the receiver position. Oregon head coach, Chip Kelly, talked about the efforts of Costa and Davis, in particular, as both players are on the comeback trail after suffering devastating knee injuries last season. "You can still tell at times that they're tentative," said Kelly, "which is understandable coming off an injury like that, but once they start to get in to the flow of it -- so to speak -- they start to make some plays and forget about it...I thought Drew made a big catch at the end. He's getting better, he's getting more consistent, and I think he's trusting his depth and where he can go on routes." The catch Davis made that Kelly was referring to came towards the end of practice and was a key third down conversion that gave the offense the lead for good on competition day. Throughout the day, Davis was consistent catching the ball, which has been a far cry from his performances in the previous couple of practices.

2. There was a much bigger focus on special teams Tuesday, particularly in the punting game, where the Ducks practiced for the first time with a live rush coming at their punters. Despite being young and inexperienced, Jackson Rice, Tim Taylor, and Mike Bowlin, withstood the pressure quite well as Rice was the most impressive of the group. "I thought those guys hit the ball pretty good," admitted Kelly, "It's easy to put the ball in the air, but when you start to have a live rush coming at you [it's different]...it's going to be a work in progress because we're replacing Josh [Syria]."

3. LaMichael James' big play potential was put on display once again this afternoon, as the redshirt freshman dazzled those in attendance with his outstanding speed and agility. Utilized as a weapon on the ground and as a receiver out of the backfield, James is lightning in a bottle, and is proving every day that he is as lethal as any skilled position player on the offensive side of the ball for Oregon. Kelly continued to rave about James' play after practice. "He looks really good," stated Kelly "Very, very, very impressive. Kind of where he left off last fall...I think and hope that he can do what I think he can do, and I think he's going to be a real force to be reckoned with in this league."

4. The linebacking corps for Oregon continues to be arguably the most impressive unit for the Ducks on defense this fall. It seems as if every day, a different group rises up and imposes their will on the offense, however the linebackers appeared to be blanketing the field today. "That core of Spence, Casey Matthews, Dewitt Stuckey, Bryson Littlejohn inside and then Eddie Pleasant and Josh Kaddu outside; there are six that are playing at a very, very high level," said Kelly "That depth is going to help you in a lot of ways. It's going to help in long games, but it's also going to help you in special teams. But all of those guys -- pass coverage wise and everything -- they just seem to be around the ball. They seem to be tipping a lot of balls, getting their hands on a lot of balls, they're really athletic. That whole group can run."

Odds and Ends: Freshman linebacker Bo Lokombo has emerged as a possible candidate to earn some playing time this upcoming season. While depth at linebacker may get in the way of him getting on the field on defense, he could be a key special teams participant. In one particular one-on-one special teams drill, Lokombo had an incredible sequence in which he decleated the would-be blocker and blasted the ball carrier to make the tackle...with Kenjon Barner working exclusively with the running backs so far this fall, cornerback Scott Grady is beginning to look like the third corner candidate behind Walter Thurmond III and Willie Glasper. Grady's terrific athleticism and ball skills have stood out this spring and he could have major impact particularly in nickel and dime packages...with defensive tackle/defensive end Brandon Bair out sick this afternoon, Zac Clark was seen getting substantial run with the first team defensive line...speaking of sickness, according to Coach Kelly, two strains of a flu bug have been floating around the team for the last few days, causing some equipment managers to wear protective facemasks when around the team...Diante Jackson was practicing full-go at the beginning of practice, making a catch for a big gain during the team hurry-up session to start the day, but was sidelined after that with the same knee injury that has bothered him since the second day of camp. He was joined on the sidelines today by Brandon Bair (ill), Tyrece Gaines (knee), Javes Lewis (ankle), Na'Derris Ward (shoulder), and Jeff Maehl (knee). Kelly stated after practice that he believes Maehl will return to practice "very soon".


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