Sunday, April 3, 2011

FishDuck Looks Into the Future

Make a close read of the most recent Fish Report, and you come away with the realization that as special as 2009 and 2010 were, the Ducks continue to be a forward-thinking operation.

You can see and feel the progress of the team; Darron Thomas had the body language of someone who was very confident and in control compared to last year at this time.

Fish observes Thomas has gained valuable bulk in his legs and arms, which will benefit him in two very significant ways.  One, it will improve his durability, and two, it will aid his effectiveness as a passer. Leg strength and core strength translate into "arm strength," or what people perceive as arm strength.  Any baseball pitching coach will tell you that velocity is created by a strong leg drive off the mound, and the same principle is at work in the toss from the pocket.  Thomas has shown a tangible dedication to improving physically.  That, along with his increased command and confidence, are very good signs for the Oregon offense.

Thomas is just one of the players who made visible gains in strength and conditioning in the quick eight weeks since the National  Championship Game.  Bennett is appreciably thicker, Fish said.  Tuinei and Barner have added some sleek muscle tone.  Mathis and Lokombo stand out as physical specimens with appreciable promise.

The level of play is pretty high for a first spring contact day, and I noted how the emphasis was on passing and outside plays. I’m delighted to see that as I maintain that Thomas is going to progress further as a passer this year and the next step to blow the lid off is with a more dangerous passing attack.

There's an uncommon polish and crispness to Ducks practice at the start of Chip Kelly's third year.  The players who have been in the system understand the pace and the purpose, and the younger ones follow their lead.   There's a strong feeling that Day 3 of Spring Practice is a continuation of the habits of intensity they've established over the last two seasons.  They look comfortable.  They look confident and in synch.  Listening to LaMichael James interviewed after practice, there's a quiet confidence in this group, a confidence in each other, their coaches and their direction, that will sustain and energize them through the long five months of preparation, and the inevitable scrutiny that will come with their hard-earned success. They know what they're doing, and they know why.

LaMichael James interview, from Oregon Duck Soup and KVAL:

This is a team doing things in the right way and going in the right direction.  2011 is looking like another very special year.

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