Notes From Spring Practice: Day 2

Energy remained high on the second day of spring practice for the Oregon football team. Once again, neither the offensive or defensive unit held an upper hand today, though there were a number of noteworthy plays made by players who are looking to emerge this upcoming season.

1. On day two, the competition between Nate Costa and Darron Thomas remained tight. While neither player appears to have a substantial edge over the other, it seemed as if Costa had the more consistent day overall. Costa was very sharp during the Ducks' "Fuji" drill (a hurry up drill they use to open every practice) while displaying efficient execution of the offense in 7-on-7's and 11-on-11's. Costa's biggest play was a deep ball along the sidelines to redshirt sophomore walk-on receiver, Justin Hoffman, who caught the pass streaking down the sideline for a score during 7-on-7 drills.

Darron Thomas was a bit more erratic today than he was on Tuesday, however, in his defense, there were a number of catchable balls that were dropped by wide receivers today. Once again, Thomas was quick moving about the pocket and showed good escapability when things broke down. He completed a number of good passes downfield to players such as Jeff Maehl, D.J. Davis, and David Paulson, but also had some misreads that either lead to interceptions or were nearly intercepted.

2. In his first spring practice of his career, sophomore running back LaMichael James did not disappoint. After missing Tuesday's practice with an excused absence, James made his spring debut in grand style; ripping off signature big play runs and demonstrating unparalleled elusiveness with the ball in his hands. As crazy as it may sound, James seems quicker entering this season. He seems to hit open holes with greater confidence; appearing efficient and quick in making a decision of where to go once he receives the handoff. Oregon head coach Chip Kelly was similarly impressed with James' effort today.

"He's really fast running around making plays," said Kelly, "He's got a great grasp,

"He's a real intelligent football player. He's had back-to-back terms where he had a 3.39 (GPA) in the fall term and a 3.09 in the winter term...he hasn't missed a beat."

3. If James was the most impressive offensive player on Thursday, the title for Thursday's most impressive defensive player had to go to redshirt freshman linebacker Boseko Lokombo. Lokombo was a terror this morning, showing great quickness in pursuit of the football and dropping back in to coverage and getting his hands on passes. In fact, arguably the play of the day was a diving interception Lokombo made that drew excited praise from both coaches and players.

4. The defense as a whole played fairly inspired today. Similar to Tuesday, the defense flew around and appeared very fast in getting to the football today. Cornerbacks Chad Peppars and Will Wallace stood out in the secondary as both players came up with interceptions and flashed impressive man-to-man coverage skills. In the front seven, sophomore linebacker Michael Clay exhibited good ball skills breaking up passes, while senior defensive tackle Brandon Bair and sophomore defensive end Dion Jordan used their size to get in to passing lanes and deflect passes at the line of scrimmage.

5. Forgive the pun, but arguably the most pleasant surprise in the Oregon secondary thus far this spring has been linebacker-converted safety, Eddie Pleasant. The junior from La Palma, Calif. has showed a lot of promise in pass coverage up to this point, displaying the requisite speed and ball skills to stick with opposing receivers and be a force in pass defense.

"Eddie looks really good," said Kelly after practice, "I think he plays with a passion,

"He really can run. He's arguably maybe our fastest kid. I think it adds more depth to us in the secondary where we've lost a couple of guys."

Odds and Ends: Junior college transfer tight end Brandon Williams made his spring football debut Thursday morning and was very solid today. Williams moves very well and showed reliable hands today when the ball came his way. Expect him to make a strong push for the second tight end spot behind junior David Paulson...Diante Jackson bounced back today from the minor injury he suffered yesterday. Though he was a bit up and down today performance wise, he was full go the entire practice and showed no ill effects...Sophomore offensive lineman Carson York and junior defensive back Javes Lewis were both dressed for practice today, though both players wore red non-contact jerseys and were limited in their participation this morning...Senior quarterback Jeremiah Masoli didn't take any reps at quarterback and saw minimal action as a slot receiver on Thursday...Wide receiver Tyrece Gaines was absent from the team for a second consecutive practice as he works to improve his academic standing.

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