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MailTribune.com
  • No. 5 Ducks get back to work

  • To call Oregon's first set of postseason practices "Fiesta Bowl practices" might be a misnomer.
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  • To call Oregon's first set of postseason practices "Fiesta Bowl practices" might be a misnomer.
    For the Ducks, the four workouts that concluded Monday involved very little game-planning for their Jan. 3 matchup with Kansas State. The focus was on fundamentals, and the basics of Oregon's schemes, which is not to say intensity wasn't running high following a two-week break that ended Friday.
    "It was tough," UO receiver Keanon Lowe said. "We really went at it, really cranked it up a notch. We had a couple days off, so we got to shake the cobwebs out. Everyone's rested, so we're feeling good."
    For some teams, early bowl practices are devoted to younger players who spent the regular season on the scout team. The Ducks provided no such break to their veterans, though with no scout team to mimic Kansas State just yet the younger players were integrated into team drills.
    "It's good to see all them come out and show what they can do against our defense," Lowe said. "It's been a good four days."
    The mix of veterans with redshirts meant Lowe got to watch a freshman such as Chance Allen take reps in team drills. Similarly, Marcus Mariota got an extended look at redshirting quarterbacks Jake Rodrigues and Jeff Lockie.
    "They were able to show what they've learned over the course of the season," Mariota said. "I feel like they've both done a good job these last few days of putting the offense in good spots. Just to see that growth since fall camp was cool to watch."
    The impulse might be strong to dive headlong into the game-plan for facing the Wildcats, but Mariota acknowledged the need for brushing up on some basics the last four days.
    "You look at the film and anticipate the game plan, but for now, since it's been a while since we've played, it's good to go out and go through the fundamentals again," Mariota said.
    "You don't want to dive in to something and not have your fundamentals with you," senior linebacker Michael Clay said. "Fundamentals will save you when it's late in the fourth quarter and you're tired."
    The Ducks have three days off, and will resume practicing Friday. UO coach Chip Kelly said coaches would begin installing the game plan this week.
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    OREGON'S PRACTICE MONDAY ended about an hour earlier than usual, around 11 a.m., to accommodate coaches heading back out on the road to recruit.
    This is the final week of a three-week "contact period" on the NCAA recruiting calendar, in which off-campus visits with recruits are allowed. A no-contact "dead period" begins Dec. 17 and runs through Jan. 3. Then ensues the final sprint to signing day on Feb. 6.
    The Ducks hosted a couple of recruits on official visits over the weekend, and got a verbal commitment from inside linebacker Joe Walker of Los Angeles Harbor College.
    Walker told the website DuckTerritory.com he was a full academic qualifier out of high school and so doesn't need to finish JC in order to enroll at Oregon; he plans to do so for winter quarter in January, and will have four years to play three at a position where the Ducks will lose senior starters Clay and Kiko Alonso.
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    FORMER OREGON FREE SAFETY John Boyett, who underwent season-ending knee surgery after playing one game this fall, was back in Eugene as of Monday. Boyett left the UO facilities with two large plastic bags full of the team-issued gear he accumulated throughout his five-year career. He said he intends to attend the Fiesta Bowl. ... Oregon will be the visiting team for the Fiesta Bowl; the Big 12 representative is the home team, given that the conference sends its champion to the bowl under current BCS rules.
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