Fife Impressive in Ducks' First Major Fall Scrimmage
Aug. 18, 2001
EUGENE - Much of the Oregon football team's success during the Mike Bellotti era has resulted from the luxury of employing depth at the quarterback position. And if the Ducks' first major scrimmage of the 2001 season is any indication, this year will be no different than Bellotti's previous six.
Sophomore quarterback Jason Fife took up where he left off last spring by completing eight of 11 passes for 186 yards and two touchdowns as Oregon centered its attention toward looking at its reserves during a 70-minute scrimmage Saturday.
Starters such as quarterback Joey Harrington and tailback Maurice Morris ended their day after only two series, while other regulars like cornerback Rashad Bauman, tight end Justin Peelle and offensive lineman Jim Adams were held out of action while nursing minor bumps and bruises.
Officially, Harrington completed only one of four passes for no yards, however he was victimized when an apparent 30-yard completion to Jason Willis was stripped out of his arms and intercepted by sophomore free safety Keith Lewis.
Morris carried the football only once for 30 yards and caught one pass for no gain.
'My general assessment is that we have a lot of work to do, especially in the kicking game and on defense which we knew,' Bellotti said. 'I think that our offense can be very powerful, we have a lot of weapons as we showed today. I am very impressed, I thought that both Allan Amundson and Jason Fife did some very nice things. On defense, our inexperience on the front seven also showed up. We didn't do some things initially that put a lot of stress on our secondary, and we didn't tackle as well as we need to.
'I also hate to give up any opportunities in the kicking game and we had three or four bad snaps that didn't allow us to take advantage of field position. So there is a lot of work to be done. In my mind, I don't think there is any closure to anything, probably it opened up a few things for some or our players.'
Fife completed passes to five different receivers, including a pair of 30-yard scoring tosses to tight end George Wrighster and wide receiver Cy Aleman, before being intercepted in the end zone by safety Rasuli Webster.
Amundson led all rushers with 47 yards on five carries, including a 1-yard score, and caught one pass for 12 yards.
'I didn't need to see Joey Harrington that much or Maurice Morris or some of the other people,' Bellotti added. 'The biggest thing for us right now is to identify some of the newly crowned starters - are they for real - and some of the second-deep players who are going to have to play for us this year. We'll evaluate most of that off of film.'
The Ducks' kicking game was sporadic although placement specialists David Rosenberg and Jared Siegel each connected on a pair of PATs while adding 37 and 33-yard field goals, respectively. However Rosenberg misfired on a 30-yard three-point attempt, a snap on another field goal try sailed over the holder's head and resulted in a 50-yard fumble recovery for a score by linebacker Erik Cheney, and Jose Arroyo's 27-yard field goal try was blocked.
Reserve walk-on wide receiver Gary Daniels led all receivers with three catches for 70 yards while Aleman finished with a trio of receptions for 63 yards and one score.
But most of the focus fell on the shoulders of Fife, who secured Oregon's backup quarterback role last spring and continued to distance himself from the rest of those competing for the squad's No. 3 slot. When Bellotti was asked if he was comfortable with Fife if he was forced to step in tomorrow he was quick to give the third-year collegian a vote of confidence.
'Absolutely. We've thought that for the most part through his development through the spring and I really was impressed today,' Bellotti emphasized. 'Based on perfection, there were a couple of passes he would like to have back but overall - I thought his command of the offense, he took some hits, he threw the ball, he made smart choices and decisions - I was very pleased.'
Oregon will hold its final major scrimmage prior to its Sept. 1 season opener vs. Wisconsin next Friday in Autzen Stadium. The scrimmage will be closed to the general public.
Rushing: Amundson 5-47, Morris 1-30, Washington 12-27, Shaw 4-22, Vossmeyer 3-11, Rogers 1-1, Warren 1-1, Lombardo 1-(minus 4), Clemens 1-(minus 5).
Passing: Harrington 1-4-1-0, Fife 8-11-1-186, Vossmeyer 6-8-51, Lombardo 2-2-15, Clemens 0-4-0.
Receiving: Daniels 3-70, Aleman 3-63, Wrighster 2-37, Warren 2-24, J. Willis 1-17, Amundson 1-12, Harris 1-12, Trim 1-8, Washington 1-6, M. Willis 1-3, Morris 1-0.
FG: Rosenberg 1-2 (30 miss, 37 good), Cummings 0-1 (42), Siegel 1-1 (33), Arroyo 0-1 (27 blocked).
PAT: Rosenberg 2-2, Siegel 2-2.