Oregon's 'D' stymies the offense
EUGENE — The Oregon defense has benefited in the early going this spring by not having to grasp a new system, and the results were evident Saturday in the first extensive scrimmage of spring practice.
The defenders allowed only a pair of short touchdowns to the second and third offensive units, as well as one field goal, as the Ducks concluded their seventh off-season workout with a 55-minute controlled scrimmage.
The Ducks' offense operated out of a no-huddle formation for the majority of the afternoon and struggled with consistency. It got touchdown passes from backup quarterbacks Brady Leaf and Cody Kempt culminating 25-yard scoring drives.
Leaf threw a 1-yard scoring pass to Cameron Colvin on the next-to-the-last offensive drive of the day, while Kempt connected with Terrell Robinson from 11 yards out on the final drive.
Five Oregon quarterbacks combined to connect on 7 of 24 passes for 81 yards, with more than half of that yardage coming on a 45-yard completion from Dennis Dixon to Jaison Williams.
Dixon completed 2 of 6 passes for 49 yards but added 41 rushing yards on four carries.
But the majority of the 68-play scrimmage was all about the defense.
"I was very proud of our defense," coach Mike Bellotti said, adding that the players have focused on conditioning "to help us play faster, harder and dig deeper. The defensive line is an area where we don't have a lot of depth, but I thought they played excellent today. They controlled the line of scrimmage, they dominated.
"In general I was pleased with our front seven. Our linebackers and defensive lines are working very well together, and have a sense of confidence. I was pleased with Will Tukuafu and Brandon Bair. I thought that our corners — (Walter) Thurmond and (Jairus) Byrd — played very well simply because I didn't see our receivers do very much."
Despite the offensive inconsistencies, Bellotti indicated that Dixon has made strides in regaining the form he maintained the first half of last season, when Oregon won five of its first six games.
"I was pleased with Dennis Dixon. Obviously his scrambling is a difference-maker for us," Bellotti said. "But that's also a concern in terms of our defense because oftentimes, we lost contain on our quarterback. He's working a lot on his technique and using his feet. I thought he rushed a couple of passes today, but overall, I have been pleased with Dennis' leadership, his decision making, that type of thing. Certainly he is a weapon in terms of what we do, we just need to keep him healthy and keep him going."
Returning starting wide receiver Brian Paysinger led all receivers with two catches for 10 yards.
Seven Oregon ball carriers accumulated 113 yards on 39 carries, with redshirt freshman Remene Alston's 29 yards on eight attempts second to Dixon's rushing total.