Oregon offense remains on track at spring game
EUGENE, Ore. – All morning on television, social media and across the country, folks were buzzing about Chip Kelly and who he drafted.
As soon as his former team kicked off their spring game, however, the talk – at least in Oregon – was more along the lines of, "Chip who?"
The Ducks' offense didn’t skip a beat in wrapping up spring practice and had a couple players remark that they were actually faster than they have been in the past. There was little to argue about after the offense rang up 65 points, 802 yards and nine touchdowns during their spring game on a beautiful Pacific Northwest afternoon on Saturday.
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“Very happy that our guys competed and were injury-free on the day,” head coach Mark Helfrich said. “Marcus (Mariota) did a really good job… Jeff (Lockie) and Jake (Rodrigues) did some good things. They also did some things where they’ll watch the film and go, ‘Dang.’ Just a couple of mistakes by each guy where they missed a throw here or there. ”
As expected, Mariota didn’t play much for the Ducks, but looked like a quarterback who will be one of the preseason Heisman favorites in 2013. He went 13-of-15 for 169 yards and two touchdowns while slicing through the second-string defense in four series.
“As an offense today, we played really well,” Mariota said. “We had a good rhythm going and that’s always key in this offense. With Coach Helfrich, not much has been different for us. It’s really about continuing our culture here. Really, we’re just building off what we’ve done this spring and really looking forward to the fall.”
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Bralon Addison was one of the breakout stars of the modified scrimmage played in front of 36,588 at Autzen Stadium. The multipurpose threat had eight catches for 136 yards and a score. Byron Marshall, competing to be the starting running back, averaged 10 yards a carry and scored the game's first touchdown.
Both backup quarterbacks left a solid impression to conclude Oregon’s 15th spring practice. Lockie spent a bit more time under center than his counterpart Rodrigues, but the latter showed off a stronger arm and quickness in escaping the pocket.
“The offensive line did an amazing job and our skill players made plays,” Rodrigues said. “I had a lot of fun out there, it’s been a while since I played football like that.”
With a modified scoring system that leaned heavily in favor of the offense, the defense did what it could to keep the 65-10 final score in perspective.
“At the beginning we got a stop, but it was only worth one point,” defensive lineman Arik Armstead said. “We were like, OK, the game is pretty much over.”
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Though the scoring accentuated the Ducks’ offensive strengths, the defense didn’t exactly show up to stop the guys who lined up across from them. Christian French was the lone bright spot for the unit, racking up nine tackles and one sack in his bid to replace first-round draft pick Dion Jordan (in the same No. 96 as his former roommate, no less).
“My initial reaction, and I’m not going to pull any punches: I didn’t see a lot of competing from enough guys,” defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti remarked on the effort. “I was not really pleased with how that whole thing looked.”
While it may take until fall camp for the defense to get figured out, there were plenty of things clicking on the offensive end. The head coach placed blame on himself for the lopsided end result afterward and tried to remind everybody that it’s no easy task trying to stop the high-flying offense.
“I reviewed the film before I came out (to the press conference),” Helfrich said. “The score was actually 65-64.”