1. The quarterback battle between senior Nate Costa and redshirt sophomore Darron Thomas raged on Friday morning as both players appeared to step up their game in the Ducks' first practice since their second scrimmage. Keeping in mind that all players were in helmets and shorts today, Thomas and Costa both appeared to be very much on point. In 7-on-7 drills, Costa unofficially went 9-for-18, doing most of his work in the short and intermediate passing game where he excels. Costa's biggest passing play, however, was a terrific deep ball hauled in by wide receiver Jeff Maehl for what would have been a score. Though he was the victim of a few drops, Costa also made a handful of poor coverage reads -- one of which ended in an interception by true freshman cornerback, Terrance Mitchell. The Ducks also executed a situational 11-on-11 period that challenged the offense to engineer a touchdown drive in 40 seconds with no timeouts. Costa was fairly mediocre during this drill, going 4-for-12 with a touchdown pass in the three drives he appeared in.
Thomas' development as a passer this spring has shown steady improvement on an almost daily basis. Thomas was rather sharp once again today, going 4-for-8 in the reps he received during 7-on-7's. His short and intermediate passing game seemed to be on today as he did a good job managing the offense and working them down the field. In the 11-on-11 40 second drill, Thomas looked solid in the two drives he appeared in. After having one of his passes tipped by tight end David Paulson and intercepted by defensive back John Boyett, Thomas responded immediately the next play with an outstanding touchdown pass to Maehl that was threaded between a couple of defenders.
2. Sophomore wide receiver Justin Hoffman had what might have been his most impressive practice of the spring this morning. Hoffman appears to be developing a strong connection with Thomas, as he was targeted by Thomas a number of times during 7-on-7's. Hoffman also had his way with the defensive backs in one-on-one drills, running superb routes and showing very good speed; torching sophomore cornerback Cliff Harris during one particular play. Hoffman also provided the catch of the day during one-on-one's with an incredible one-handed grab he made while falling backwards. According to Oregon head coach, Chip Kelly, Hoffman's work ethic, in addition to his stellar play, has given him an opportunity to see considerable playing time come the fall.
"It's got nothing to do with guys getting banged up," said Kelly, "Justin Hoffman's played really, really well."
"He came on and played a lot for us last year towards the end of the season because he can block so well and he's such a great player. It really has nothing to do with guys being injured. He deserves playing time right now because he's warranted it by how he's practiced."
3. True freshman cornerback Terrance Mitchell had two interceptions today as he continues to impress with each passing practice. His physicality and outstanding ball-skills have certainly impressed the coaches early on, however it's mental make-up and attention to detail that has the staff mostly excited.
"T-Mitch just keeps showing up," said Kelly after practice,
"We thought he would be a playmaker for us and he has with the fact that he (arrived on campus) early. That's really given him a jump start. When preseason camp starts next August, he's not gonna be a freshman even though he's still a true freshman technically...he's got a demeanor about him and a way about him where he doesn't act like a true freshman. He's got a real good confidence and he reminds me a little bit -- in terms of his makeup -- of a Michael Clay. We're real excited about Terrance right now."
Odds and Ends: Sophomore running back Kenjon Barner ran the ball very well, with his biggest play coming on a long touchdown run during 11-on-11's...Incoming freshman Bryan Bennett (quarterback), Curtis White (tight end), and Hroniss Grasu (offensive line) were all on hand today taking in practice.
Official Oregon Injury Report:
Kiko Alonso (LB) - knee
Blake Cantu (WR) - shoulder
Charlie Carmichael (OL) - knee
Michael Clay (LB) - head
Nick Cole (WR) - hamstring
Anthony Gildon (DB) - ankle
Diante Jackson (WR) - hip
Talmadge Jackson (DB) - shoulder
Marvin Johnson (DB) - ankle
Josh Kaddu (LB) - foot
Malachi Lewis (TE) - hamstring
Carson York (OL) - shoulder
*Clay and Cole both participated without a red non-contact jersey this morning. Alonso was on the sideline in a knee brace and moving around gingerly on crutches after suffering a knee injury during Wednesday's scrimmage. No word was given on the severity of his injury.
Notes From Spring Practice: Day 12
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