Ducks Begin Prep For Lobos Today

Oregon head coach Chip Kelly

Notes from Saturday's practice as the Ducks ready themselves for their date with New Mexico a week from today.

1. After months of anticipation and speculation, a starting quarterback has been named at the University of Oregon. Friday afternoon, Oregon head coach Chip Kelly tabbed redshirt sophomore Darron Thomas as his trigger man when the Ducks kickoff their season September 4 at home versus New Mexico. Next Saturday's game against the Lobos will mark Thomas' first collegiate start and his first game action since 2008, when he appeared in three games. Coming out of spring practices, both players appeared more or less even, with many contending that Costa held the edge coming out of April due to his leadership ability and experience in the system. However, the start of fall camp earlier this month revealed that Thomas had gained ground on Costa, as Thomas demonstrated improved leadership skills and better consistency operating the Ducks' high-octane offense. Though the competition was very much back and forth throughout the duration of camp, Kelly and his staff simply felt Thomas gave the Ducks the best chance to win now.

"With both those guys, it was a body of work through the spring and through preseason camp," said Kelly, "I sat down with the staff and had a long discussion about it and we feel for where we are offensively and what we're going to do, that (Thomas) is the best choice.

"It was a tough thing," Kelly continued, "Because I care so much about Nate and I know what Nate means to this program...it wasn't 'He does this and he doesn't do this', it was 'We gotta pick one guy' and that's why we picked Darron.'"

2. In other position battles, junior Anthony Gildon will get the start opposite senior Talmadge Jackson at the Ducks' cornerback position. Gildon, a highly-touted recruit from Southern California powerhouse Oaks Christian High School, started the Rose Bowl for Oregon and won the starting job for the 2010 season after receiving stiff competition from players the likes of Cliff Harris, Avery Patterson, and Chad Peppars. Additionally, the winner of the starting position at SAM linebacker appears to be junior Josh Kaddu, however, Kelly believes a large number of players will see action on the defensive side of the ball this season.

"We're going to play 25 to 30 guys on defense," said Kelly, "So you may see Kaddu for four and then (Boseko) Lokombo comes in for four. One thing I love about this football team is the depth that we have right now."

3. One of the latest revelations on the offensive side of the ball is redshirt freshman Daryle Hawkins. Hawkins, who started camp battling true freshman Bryan Bennett for the third string quarterback position, has since adopted more of a "slash" role, making an impact at both running back and wide receiver towards the end of camp.

"Daryle is gonna play everywhere," said Kelly after practice, "As many different spots as we can put him. He showed up in the scrimmage the other day -- he had nine catches, six carries -- and he's still learning how to play running back, he's still learning to play receiver, but he's a dynamic guy with the ball in his hands."

Notes: Still no real determination has been made at kicker for the Ducks' season opener next Saturday. With sophomore Rob Beard suspended for the opener, true freshmen Alejandro Maldonado and Eric Solis are still competing for the placekicking position. "We gotta make a decision," admitted Kelly, "If we're gonna redshirt Alejandro, then we're gonna kick Eric Solis in the opener."...Kelly mentioned that wide receiver Josh Huff, defensive tackle Ricky Heimuli, and running backs Dontae Williams and Lache Seastrunk may be a handful of true freshmen who see action early this season. Though he practiced this morning, according to Kelly, the health of Huff's bothersome ankle will determine how much playing time he receives early on. As far as Williams and Seastrunk go, Kelly said, "I don't know what we're going to do with them...it really depends on where Remene is and where our depth is at running back."

Official Oregon Injury Report:

RB Remene Alston (foot), OL Jamaal Burrell (head), WR Blake Cantu (shoulder), OL Nick Cody (back), OL Hroniss Grasu (shoulder), WR Josh Huff (ankle), LB Dewitt Stuckey (elbow), TE Curtis White (shoulder)

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