Saturday, April 2, 2011

Courtney, Dargan and Heimuli Throw Down

Chris Courtney of Educk is becoming a great information source for news-hungry Duck fans. His practice updates are fast and detailed, often a couple hours ahead of the print media guys. Here's an excerpt from his Day 3 Update:

Day three of spring drills for the Oregon football team on Saturday was the first full "competition day" for Duck head coach Chip Kelly's bunch, as the offense controlled many of its battles with the defense this afternoon, prevailing 102-92.

The performance given by the offense was certainly a team effort, as quarterbacks Darron Thomas and Bryan Bennett demonstrated admirable displays moving the offense. Thomas picked up where he left off on Thursday, showing continued poise and decision-making moving around the pocket finding Josh Huff and David Paulson with regularity this afternoon. Bennett improved some from an up-and-down Thursday practice, providing additional glimpses of his athleticism and arm strength on Saturday. The highlights of his day were two deep throws to Daryle Hawkins and Blake Cantu that likely would have gone for touchdowns in an actual game.

On the other side of the ball, though the defense didn't prevail, they weren't without standouts of their own. Redshirt freshman safety Erick Dargan and sophomore defensive tackle Ricky Heimuli shined brightly inside the Mo.
That's great news about Dargan and Heimuli.  The big defensive tackle, at 6-4, 321 is Oregon's biggest defensive linemen, and has the potential to be the run-stuffing stud the Ducks have lacked since Ngata and Olshansky went to the league.  To be that guy, he has to learn, as fellow defensive tackle Jared Ebert said, speaking about his own goals in a recent interview, "not to be just a guy who soaks up blocks, but an athlete who makes plays."  The competition inside between Heimuli, Hart, Keliikipi, Ebert,  and Remington will make them all better.

As for Dargan, his emergence could add needed depth at safety after the loss of Marvin Johnson, Marcus Davis and Javes Lewis.  Dargan was Scout Team Player of the Week about four times last fall, and his early progress and playmaking flair makes him a candidate for special teams duty and snaps in Oregon's nickel and dime packages.  Brian Jackson and Scott Grady made a combined 29 tackles in roles like this last year.  Dargan has upside, instincts, and a nose for the ball.

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