1. With the second week of fall camp coming to a close, the Ducks look towards the third and final week looking to firm up some key position battles before they start game week preparation for New Mexico. The focus during fall camp has been at quarterback and the competition between senior Nate Costa and redshirt sophomore Darron Thomas. Saturday's practice was a critical time for evaluation as it was the team's final "competition day" of August. Costa appeared to have the slight edge today, exhibiting good accuracy and decision-making ability when contained in the pocket. In fact, Costa was nearly flawless during one 7-on-7 period, completing difficult passes to receivers the likes of senior wide receiver Jeff Maehl and true freshman Josh Huff.
Though he failed to show the kind of accuracy Costa flashed, Thomas was the better runner today, executing designed runs for the quarterback with effectiveness during 11-on-11 team periods. Thomas was also quarterbacking the first-team offense on the final play that decided the winner of competition day, dropping back and getting "sacked" by junior linebacker Josh Kaddu before he could get a pass off to Maehl who caught Thomas' pass sailing out of the back of the endzone. For Oregon head coach Chip Kelly, today's practice was exactly what he wanted.
"I think it came down to 136-136 and (the defense) got the last points," said Kelly, "I like it when it's close and it comes down to the last play and you find out who competes."
2. True freshman wide receiver Josh Huff continues to impress, as he had another terrific practice making great catches all over the field. One of the more physically developed of the incoming freshman, Huff is best in the slot, using his great strength and athletic ability to fight for the ball. Huff dominated 3-on-2 drills versus the defensive backs and was a force when his number was called during 11-on-11's. Despite battling a nagging ankle injury that has kept him in and out practice, Kelly has been pleased with the way Huff has responded to adversity early on.
"The one thing I'll give Josh credit for is, he's stayed on top of things mentally," said Kelly,
"When he gets in, he knows what he's doing. He's kept his head in his playbook and he's doing a good job...he continues to show up and I'm really excited about what his future is here."
3. Sophomore punter Jackson Rice showed off his strong leg today, booming a number of punts over the heads of the returners this afternoon. Though the highlight of this special teams drill came when sophomore linebacker Michael Clay blasted true freshman wide receiver Keanon Lowe during one particular return sequence, Kelly is has been satisfied with what he's seen from Rice thus far.
"Jackson Rice is really kicking the heck out of the ball which is really gonna help us in the coverage game," said Kelly, "We've have guys on defense who can run, so I'm excited about our coverage ability."
Notes: Near the the beginning of practice, the Ducks engaged in what Kelly called the, "Hoot and Holler" drill. Hoot and Holler is a spirited period where offense and defense split up and each player on the team (excluding quarterbacks and players wearing red non-contact jerseys) went head-to-head in a sumo wrestling match of sorts (defensive line went up against offensive line, defensive backs versus wide receivers, etc.). "At some point and time you want to find who can come off the ball" said Kelly of the drill, "I also like to do it with other players watching them so everybody gets a chance to see who's gonna stand in there and compete."
Oregon Official Injury Report:
RB Remene Alston (foot), DB John Boyett (leg), WR Nick Cole (hamstring), OL Hroniss Grasu (shoulder), DT Ricky Heimuli (back), WR Josh Huff (ankle), DB Terrance Mitchell (ankle), WR Lavasier Tuinei (hamstring), OL Darrion Weems (back), TE Curtis White (shoulder), TE Brandon Williams (hand)