Long before FishDuck.com existed, there were FishDuck scrimmage reports. When spring came around, if the Ducks were practicing I’d do my best to document it all. These reports would get passed around various Oregon websites to much fanfare, the fervor over these largely was the motivation behind starting this website.
However, as we all know Oregon has now decided to close all practices for the foreseeable future. Oh sure, the Ducks are practicing, but outside of the team and coaches who the heck knows what is actually taking place??? It doesn’t stop anybody from writing about spring practices as we all need our football fix, but it’s all speculation until the spring game. So keeping that in mind we at FishDuck.com are having a little fun…if they won’t let us watch current practices, instead we’ll use the benefit of hindsight and have a laugh or two over some of my past scrimmage reports.
As you read—you’ll note how things have not changed from seven years ago when it was written, yet they have completely changed. Enjoy!
The FishDuck Scrimmage Report
Gadfry! If you liked ugly scrimmages, then this one had passes sprayed around the field, punts shanked, short kickoffs, and blocked field goals. (Many times!) I estimate that I have attended 50-60 Oregon football scrimmages over my lifetime and I declare that if this one wasn’t the worst….then it was in my top three!
Many of you have disagreed with me on numerous subjects on the boards in the past, but you know that I call things the way I see it, and it was pretty bad by the first team offense. The good news is that when we face another Spread Offense team…our defense sure knows how to play it! As you know, I’m not here to be a cheerleader, and while the last time I wrote a report I began drinking halfway through it as I wrote…this time I needed to start immediately to fog the memory of what I saw. Yep. IT WAS THAT BAD.
I do not believe that the first team offense got FIFTY YARDS on the first team defense throughout. It wasn’t just three and out…sometimes they barely made a few yards. Kellen was harassed but players weren’t open (sound familiar?) and he was throwing erratically for tons of series with the #1 Offense against the entire #1 defense. Late in the scrimmage the #1 Offense scored a TD, while starting the drive with only 25 yards to go, but there were at least 4 players from the second and third team playing on the “D” at that time. We went the longest time….like the scrimmage being nearly over, before the #1 Offense even got a FIRST DOWN!
Offensive comments: Where was Finley? Where were ANY of the receivers AGAIN? They aren’t Ducks…they are magicians as they disappear on us once play begins. I’m tired of “potential!” On one drive we saw a big-time blitz take place and Kellen did read this correctly and he was getting hit high on his front shoulder pads and he managed to sidearm pass under the defenders’ arms to Donte in the flat who then made someone miss as he continued to tip-toe down the sideline until his momentum pulled him out of bounds…but we got the first down.
The QBs have a TON of reads to make before a play and as it progresses. Brady Leaf started in the shotgun and took off to the left in the Triple Option and he really leaned inside. The quick defenders were swarming him and the pitch man, so he shovel passed it inside to the tailback (Jackson) who turned upfield for a nice 10 yard gain. It was an excellent read and I sense that when the QBs get more experience…the alternatives presented by the defenses won’t be as challenging. Brady Leaf looked pretty good today; on one play he nodded to Jaison Williams who had a one-on-one matchup with a smaller Sharrod Davis. Now this is 6-5 vs. 5-11 and it’s not just height. JW’s shoulders are wider, his arms are bigger….he’s a BIG, BIG receiver. The biggest ever at Oregon?
Anyway he took off and Brady Leaf just lofted it up for Jaison…as it approached the two—Davis didn’t spot the ball and frankly it appeared that Jaison didn’t jump to catch the ball at its highest point, but instead turned around and muscled his big shoulders in a position where he could hold off Sherrod and let the ball fall into his breadbasket. Then with his immense size his momentum carried him another bunch of yards. It was a 24 yard gain that turned into a TD for the 3rd team offense on a rainbow to Strong a few plays later.
This scrimmage wasn’t a complete loss…we had a pretty good fight break out between Sanders and Ma Sun. Typical end of the play pushing that turned rough when an intended push missed and resembled a blow. Neither player was backing down and the arms were swinging wildly at each other. Now I think everyone thought that it would end any second, but these guys kept at it and the intensity of the blows and the wrestling indicated that this was a man-on-man matchup and that neither was going to stop since they face up in practice every day. I know I was getting uncomfortable with how long this was going and these guys were MAD, MAD, MAD, and they were giving it their all. (Good conditioning taking place!)
None of the coaches jumped in because they were on the opposite side of the field, and the refs backed off…and I don’t blame them. Ma Sun and Sanders? That’s two athletes at 6-5 who are sincerely trying to hurt each other…no heroes here! Finally some players got in there, but they couldn’t stop them! The anger and strength of both was astonishing as they still pummeled blows with two and three players grab them and jump in between them. Coach Bellotti sent them both running up in the stands, but that is one of the better football fights I’ve ever seen.
I’m still trying to figure out if they truly are running an option off a counter action, or if it is an intended running play from the start. The QB is in the shotgun and begins running to the left, but the tailback that started on his left crosses in front of the QB and it sure looks to be me at ground level that the QB is looking at some keys to determine whether to hand off. I also noted that the handoff wasn’t the usual massage like you would see with the Triple Option on the fullback. It looks like an option because if the QB DOESN’T hand off…then he continues left and now has a double-option with him and a pitch man.
(FishDuck Note: This was the first spring of installing the Spread and what was described above was what I now call a Straddled Triple Option. I did not know that the QB was Zone -Reading the backside DE at the time, and did not understand what was going on for—years.)
I was watching the offensive linemen for awhile in drills and was struck by how below Geoff Schwartz’s waist—are real tree trunks. You can’t call them legs when I have Cherry trees in the backyard that have less diameter than that. Amazing! I was also surprised how some players look different than their listed height/weight on the program. Duck37 and I noted how Cole Linehan looked a lot bigger than listed and I thought that Aaron Klovas looked smaller than the 6-6 listed. We REALLY have to question the recruiting/stars stuff, because both Unger and Klovas are RS freshmen, but until I looked up the number…I thought Klovas was a walk-on. He was dogging it in the drills, and Unger looked A LOT BETTER. For a Hawaiian, Max doesn’t fit the stereotype 330 lb Samoan; he’s a very tall, lean and agile 6-5 290 lbs. This IS a better matchup for the athletic pass rushers we’ll face.
If ANYONE complains on this board one more time about wasting a scholarship on a long snapper…I will personally get in their face and let them have it. Our long snapping was a DISASTER! We missed two, maybe three field goals because of the snap. One was with Martinez and he’ll probably take the blame for the miss, but the snap was so high that the holder had to extend his arms all the way up and actually lift off his knee a few inches to catch the snap. Then by the time he was able to bring it down—the timing was all messed up for Paul and since it was a long one…it had no chance.
I know how tough this process is since I long-snapped in High School and actually Place-kicked a few extra points to boot. Few people understand how important the TIMING is in field goals/extra points. A messed up rhythm hurts the kicker badly. Another time the snap was so bad that Brady just got up out of the stance and began running around looking for someone to throw to; the field goal couldn’t even be attempted. Sunga is going to be EVERYBODY’S BUDDY, because we all see how important it is and how we took Loftin and the ones before him for granted.
I’m not going to spend much time on Special Teams. The punts were shanked and awful; one was partially blocked. While the JC punter hit one 55 yarder…he also did a 35 yarder. (Thanks for the spotting of MacDuck) Let me get this right….Martinez is no longer punting?
Kickoffs went to the 10 yard line, (Martinez) the 20 yard line, (Luke Bellotti) and a yard in the end zone and in the corner by Dragich. On the runback we saw Sherrod Davis, (or was it Patrick Chung?) make some good cuts, follow a big block on the sideline, and make it up past the 40 yard line! On Field Goals…I don’t think I can EVER remember so many blocked and missed. They were truly awful and Coach Bellotti was getting torqued.
I am VERY impressed with the progress of Dennis Dixon; his play shouts All-American in this offense in a couple of years. He has tailback speed, a good arm, and now better decisions carried out quickly that sets up good gains. He took the snap in the shotgun and stepped back a little more as another blitz was bearing down upon him. He stepped behind a lineman as the rusher whooshed past, and then exploded through the gap and took off running into the secondary. I was amazed at the speed that the defense reacted with, but even then it was 11 yards as he ran out of bounds and another first down.
Twice he had a double-option going to the right, but faced the teeth of another overwhelming blitz. Unlike last week when he took big losses, this time he recognized it and stopped on a dime, reversed his field and with his 4.50 speed motored past the DE responsible for contain since Dixon’s move was so fast. Bingo…another first down! He seems VERY comfortable making option decisions and being proactive when nothing is there. Perhaps I was not the first to wonder how the 1st team Offense would do with him running it? Hmmmmm.
The closing speed on defense seemed moved up a notch today as it didn’t seem to matter who filled in. At times, the first team defense had Jackie Bates and Patrick Chung at safeties! Walk-on Ryan DiPalo had a superb open field tackle on TE Kause when Dan had a lot of running room behind Ryan. Good stick.
One of the best tackles seen in a scrimmage occurred on an inside shovel pass from Dixon to Jackson. Terrell barely had time to turn his head to look upfield when a missile shot through and nailed TJ high on the shoulder pad and decleated him. The impact of the tackle drove him from a forward lean to projecting backwards to fall on his back. I don’t know that I’ve seen a RB get turned around in the air from a hit inside the tackles like that. Usually big hits occur in open field where the force and speed can be built up. This was a major knocker from LB Justin Andrews!
A couple of encouraging things about the defense; first I didn’t see the “flat” body language of the players that I so often saw in the second half of games last fall. Second, I did not see any confusion by the defense as they seemed to know precisely what they were doing on each play. Prior to the snap, I saw Tuitele call out to Phinisee and as the flair pass play in the flat developed, you could see a green blur rocketing through to nail Whitehead for no gain when it looked good for yardage just a second before. Phinisee on Whitehead is a great matchup to see up close; warriors on both sides of the ball.
It seemed a number of times that as the cadence was near the end and as the QB barked out the signals…the defense suddenly went into a blitz mode that had to be difficult to block. They really did a nice job overloading a side at times to bust up a pass play before it could develop. Once as the signals were being called I was surprised to see ALL ELEVEN defenders within two yards of the LOS! “My gosh…what are they doing with an all-out blitz?” Just as I thought that- we saw four defenders bolt backwards into coverage stance as the ball was being snapped. It looked superbly timed and very professionally done. Like him or not, you have to tip your hat to Nick for the crisp and intelligent play of our defense.
My feathered friends…I’d tell you more if I could. Unfortunately, I didn’t watch the defense as close and thus missed the real action of the day. For those who went to the scrimmage…add on to this post what the alcohol has obscured. Great to see Duck37, TimL, Steve, MacDuck, BadMotherDuck, and “Larry vonDuck”. You see he gets premium billing since he called me “MISTER” FishDuck. Cheers to all.
We love our Ducks.