Oregon Hopeful of Regaining Services of Smith and Graham for Potential Bowl Matchup

Nov. 26, 2002

EUGENE - University of Oregon football coach Mike Bellotti said he was optimistic the Ducks will benefit from the return of junior tailback Onterrio Smith should they have their season extended for a bowl game.

Smith, who underwent successful arthroscopic surgery Nov. 18 to repair a partial cartilage tear in his left knee, missed three of Oregon's last four games after surpassing the 1,000-yard rushing plateau for the second year in a row. He completed the regular season ranked 15th in the country in rushing with 1,079 yards and a 119.9-yard per game average.

Speculation has placed the Ducks playing in the Seattle Bowl on Dec. 30 against an opponent from the Atlantic Coast Conference, or against Fresno State Dec. 31 in the Silicon Valley Bowl in San Jose, Calif. That timetable would provide Smith with six weeks to rehabilitate his knee between surgery and the game.

In addition, Bellotti said he is hopeful that senior linebacker Garret Graham might be able to return for the bowl game as well. Oregon's starting outside linebacker has missed the last three games with bone spurs in his left ankle after recording 30 tackles, including six and a half tackles for losses in the first nine outings.

Three players who were injured in last Saturday's loss at Oregon State also are expected to be able to play in any bowl game, although a few of the injured players may have to sit out the first few days of practice. Tailback Ryan Shaw suffered a right ankle sprain, as did starting left tackle Adam Snyder, while reserve rover Marley Tucker experienced a strained right shoulder.

Shaw ran for 68 yards on 10 carries in Oregon's last two games against Washington and the Beavers after entering the 11th game of the year with only six yards on four carries.

Bellotti also announced that junior cornerback David Dixon has been dismissed from the program for a repeated violation of team rules.

The junior college transfer from Palomar College had played in only two games before drawing an indefinite suspension by Bellotti on Oct. 2 for a violation of team rules. Dixon was subsequently dismissed from the program earlier this month prior to the Ducks' Nov. 2 game vs. Stanford.

The Ducks will tentatively resume workouts upon returning to school from the Thanksgiving holidays.

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