Notes From Spring Practice: Day 11

In what was marked improvement from their first scrimmage of the spring, Oregon football team took the field this morning in their second spring scrimmage poised to pick up the intensity that had been lacking previously.

1. Neither Nate Costa nor Darron Thomas succeeded today in creating any separation from the other in Oregon's hotly contested quarterback race. Much like the first scrimmage of the spring, the second scrimmage was marred by some inconsistent play from both players. While Costa was able to manage the offense a bit better than Thomas, the lack of explosion plays seemed to bog things down when Costa was at the helm. Costa ended the scrimmage going 9-for-24 for 59 yards; throwing an interception to safety John Boyett that was reminiscent of Boyett's pick against Utah last season.

Like Costa, Thomas was similarly erratic. He had difficulty hitting receivers on crossing routes and looked a bit flustered at times when things in the pocket would break down. When Thomas would lead big drives down the field, his team typically failed to engineer touchdowns when in the red zone. In fact, one particular promising Thomas-led drive faltered after a poor snap from the center went sailing over Thomas' head and was recovered by the defense. Thomas finished the day 16-for-31 for 145 yards and a touchdown. Despite the quarterbacks taking their fair share of lumps today, senior wide receiver Jeff Maehl has been encouraged with the development of Thomas and Costa this spring.

"They're doing good," said Maehl, "They're getting better everyday."

"I think it's going to be a tight battle all the way up to the season. There's not a guy who's really standing out right now, but they're both throwing the ball really well and making good decisions out there."

2. With running backs LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner being limited in scrimmages this spring in order to prevent injury, senior Remene Alston has taken advantage of the increased number of reps. Alston was the Ducks' leading rusher today, gaining 93 yards on nine carries and showing a nice burst and toughness with the ball in his hands.

"Kenjon and LaMichael are always a little limited cause we know what they can do," said Oregon head coach Chip Kelly,

"Remene looked like he stood out a little bit and he made some plays...I was impressed with how the running backs played."

3. Third-string quarterback Daryle Hawkins had another impressive day both running and throwing the football. Two of the arguably biggest offensive plays of the scrimmage came at the hands of Hawkins, who flashed great touch and arm strength on a couple of deep balls that went for touchdowns. Hawkins went 3-for-6 for 68 yards and two touchdowns to go along with an interception; his performance drawing praise from Kelly after the scrimmage had concluded.

"Daryle's doing a great job running the ball and doing some of those things," admitted Kelly,

"He throws a nice deep ball, but the intermediate and short ball he's still gotta work on. He does breakdown fundamentally when he's got a little too much on his mind, but we really like his athleticism and he'll continue to develop."

4. As has become customary this spring, the defense was buzzing around the field once again today. Redshirt freshman defensive back Brian Jackson came up with an interception, and the hit of the day came from senior defensive end Kenny Rowe who de-cleated junior wide receiver Lavasier Tuinei on a pass to the flats. Michael Clay also had a tremendous day as he seemed to be in on nearly every tackle. Clay's play this spring has been nothing short of stellar and after practice, Kelly beamed about the sophomore linebacker's performance these past few weeks.

"He's probably been arguably our best defensive player all spring," said Kelly,

"He runs around, has a great passion, great understanding of the game...I said it last year and I'll say it again, he never ever acted like he was a true freshman. He came out ready from day one, is a real mature kid, is a good student...he's everything you want in a football player. He's one of the reasons we moved Eddie (Pleasant) and some of those guys because we knew we had depth at linebacker and we're gonna find ways to get Michael on the field."

Odds and Ends: Jeff Maehl led the receivers today with four catches for 33 yards and a touchdown. Maehl had an impressive catch over two defenders near the sideline which stood as one of the biggest passing plays of the day...Senior wide receiver D.J. Davis also had a good day with three catches for 40 yards; constantly proving that he is one of the Ducks' better receivers with the ball in his hands after the catch...In limited action, running back Kenjon Barner had a big touchdown run that was called back due to a holding penalty...Daryle Hawkins' interception today came at the benefit of walk-on freshman defensive back Mikey Dosen. The Concord (CA) De La Salle alum has had an interception in each of the scrimmages this spring...Sophomore kicker Rob Beard was perfect in all field goal and PAT attempts this morning.

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