Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Defense dominating, offense inept in first scrimmage

Scrimmage reports are in; here's Rob Moseley's, here's John Hunt's.

Moseley notes Josh Huff is moving around better on his injured knee, with more flexibility.  The swelling is down.  Swelling is nature's cast; it helps prevent further damage to the injured area.  No hard news yet on the nature of the injury or the prospects for recovery.  It looks like they need him.

In fact, the slight improvement in Huff's mobility was probably the best news of the scrimmage for the offense.  Both the beat writers reported numerous fumbles and drops, with both Bennett and Thomas tossing a pick six, Avery Patterson and Michael Clay scoring the defensive touchdowns.  Lache Seastrunk ran 19 times for 80 yards, Moseley said, but he had two fumbles.

Worst news from the scrimmage was Lavasier Tuinei had several drops.  Not what you want to hear in a prospective go-to receiver.  He needs to assert himself in the spring game, and keep that from becoming a pattern.

Good to see that Brandon Williams had a 20-yard touchdown  reception.  Right now the Ducks are stronger and deeper at tight end/h-back than they are at wide receiver, and getting Williams involved in the offense is a good sign.  He had a nice game at Tennessee last year but then got lost in the shuffle with a hand injury.  In Monday's practice he was the Ducks' best downfield receiver.  Williams and Paulson could make an excellent tandem, two big targets with reliable hands.   Lyerla and White have potential also.  In certain situations Oregon could go with three or four big-talls and create a matchup nightmare, with slants, hooks, seam routes and fades.  In past years, opponents drove the UO defense crazy with that little pass to the H-back in the flat, coming off a block, a very simple pickup on third-and-five or at the goal line.  Getting Williams involved, and having Thomas develop some confidence in him, is progress.

Kenjon Barner returned a punt for a touchdown.  Crazy isn't it, that Tom Osborne has two returners of this caliber?  Last year Cliff Harris was a consensus All-America at punt returner, setting a school record with four touchdown returns in a season.  Yet Barner might be better.  It's awfully close.  Kash is more daring; Barner probably has better ball security.  Harris is more elusive, better at creating something out of nothing.  Barner has more straight-line speed, a better burst.

Conclusion:  they're going to need Barner in the offense.  He'll be busy at tailback and slotback and receiver, and it looks like they'll need him to replace a good deal of the production they got from Maehl and Huff.  Let Harris provide the electricity in the return game, provided he takes a little better care of the football.

It happens every spring.  First scrimmage, the defense is ahead of the offense, and the offense looks ragged and out of synch. It's not time to panic, but it would be incredibly helpful to have them pull some things together and take some momentum into the summer program.

Molly Blue of has a video interview with Chip Kelly after the scrimmage.

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