Offense Shines During Spring Game

On Saturday, Oregon put its offense on full display during it's spring scrimmage, turning up the jets and beating the defensive team 65-10.

UO head coach Mark Helfrich took the helm for the first time as head coach during the spring game and was pleased given with what his team had to work with in terms of play calling.

"Obviously very happy that our guys competed and being injury free on the day was good," Helfrich said. "We got the guys in there we wanted to see."

Offensively, the Ducks first string unit looked sharp early and often.

Marcus Mariota picked up right where he left from his initial campaign last season, going 13-of-15 for 169 yards and two touchdowns. For much of the first half, it seemed only Mariota could get the offense moving as they scored on three of his first four drives.

"I felt as an offense today we did really well," Mariota said. "We got a good rhythm going and that's very key in this offense."

Due to a scoring system that limited the defense from scoring, the offense came away looking better if you were looking at the scoreboard. However the offense dealt with some hiccups with backups Jake Rodrigues and Jeff Lockie at quarterback, at least to start.

Both players attributed their early struggles to nerves, but they started against several first string defensive players which added to the difficulty.

"I think everyone had those little jitters and some of the veterans are ready to go on defense," Lockie said. "Once we got past that a little bit, got settled and got the calls going, then we started getting the tempo going."

Considering neither player saw playing time last season, it was a positive step. Playing in front of 36,588 fans for the first time can be intimidating. Rodrigues, who hasn't played since a broken leg ended his high school career, and Lockie did settle in eventually and showed flashes of great play. Rodrigues finished with 13-of-19 for 165 yards and Lockie finished 22-of-28 for 217 yards with both throwing two touchdowns apiece.

When they did struggle, it was Mariota who tried to get them back on the right track. The redshirt sophomore emerged as the surprise of the spring last season and eventually won the starting job in the fall. This year, Mariota has become more of a leader and took time to guide the more inexperienced players, especially Lockie and Rodrigues, early on.

"That was one of my things, especially to Jeff and Jake" Mariota said. "I just told them to go out there and have fun and just let it all go."

Both Rodrigues and Lockie showed their ability to use their legs, though they were limited by a standard touch rule to prevent injuries. That's fine with Rodrigues, who plans on spending the summer ensuring his leg gets stronger.

"I have to re-train my body to play like I used to," Rodrigues said.

Helfrich was also pleased with sophomore running back Byron Marshall. With De'Anthony Thomas on the sidelines on Saturday, Marshall made his case for more carries with a solid outing, rushing for 60 yards on six carries. His improvement this spring on offense and as a special teams players is something the head coach is excited about.

"He can be a weapon on offense and special teams," Helfrich said. "He needs to ratchet that effort up all of the time and be a great player all of the time."

Another stand out was sophomore wide receiver Bralon Addison continued his productive spring by hauling in eight catches for 136 yards and a touchdown. Addison emerged as a go-to receiver for Oregon this spring and seemed happy with his, and his team's, development.

"We've got a lot of guys on this team that can make plays and Coach Helfrich know that and that's his main goal is to get the ball to the guys in space," Addison said.

The Ducks open the season on Aug. 31 at home against Nicholls State.

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