The FishDuck Spring Scrimmage Report
Long before FishDuck.com existed, there were FishDuck scrimmage reports. Be it out on the fields or inside Autzen, 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 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.
That’s why we thought we’d have a little fun with it, continuing the FishDuck Spring Scrimmage Reports by utilizing 20/20 hindsight and laugh over some of the past reports I’ve done. It’s interesting to look back and see who I thought might be a future superstar, or what minor things I got giddy about.
So let’s jump in the way-back machine, and re-visit my spring scrimmage report from today…four years ago. April 6th, 2007. Oh yes, FishDuck can get things VERY wrong sometimes. And the responses I got at the time, knowing what we know now, are also a hoot.
So kick back with me and enjoy this practice report from 2007, as it will be the only practice report we’ll be seeing from Duck practices for some time to come.
The FishDuck Spring Scrimmage Report
April 6th, 2007
After the wonderful feedback from announcing my impending report..you all have me full of myself as truly–I’ve become a legend in my own mind. Then, attending what was probably one of the most boring practices ever, I find myself stuck with a shortage of interesting material. We didn’t have some breathtaking kickoff runbacks like Onterrio graced us with in past years, or the curiosity of watching a Jordan Kent, or being entertained with the amusement of watching new QBs break in or better yet, with a new offense as in years past. Nope…this one was pretty slow.
However is WAS the first day of contact; prior practices were in just the helmets or shells, thus it makes sense that we don’t see much hitting the first day….in fact we did NOT have a scrimmage in the typical sense. A ton of drills, walking through plays and assignments to counter plays, and SOME contact, but not in the usual scrimmage format. Again, it makes sense as it is only the third practice and the first with the full contact gear.
I got to meet SeaDuck who was up from Phoenix, (we feel his loss) and the always charming ducklar. (not!) It was a 69 degree day with bright sun, purple and white blossoms out, and a practice field of grass that was thick and cut low to provide a carpet of terrific traction. While others have commented upon the urgent nature of the coaching this year…..I don’t really see a difference as I always thought they were pretty hard-core at teaching in these spring camps. I can’t help but think about the superb coaches we have on hand at this time….a Offensive Coordinator who has been doing the Spread Offense for SEVEN years as opposed to our two, John Neal who has really turned our corners around, Coach Gray…who I’ve wanted for a long time, Pflugrad handling the wideouts, Greatwood coaching the O-Line…as he should, and Oz back on Special teams. Add to that the Dean of Pac-10 head coaches and you almost have a Dream team of Oregon coaches…thus, this is the year I put it on the PLAYERS, and not the coaches. This coaching staff knows their stuff, but does this group of young men have the toughness, the wisdom, and the talent to do great things? Interesting stuff to contemplate…..but I suspect you aren’t here to sit back, expose your navel, and ponder great things of Duckdom; you want some damn football.
Let’s get the negative out of the way first; the center snaps were almost consistently on the ground or below the QBs knees. It messed up the timing a ton of times and disrupted the QBs concentration for looking downfield on pass patterns. Then,…near the end of practice was a gut-wrenching scene that we fear for ALL the young men on the gridiron; the very nasty and painfull injury. Ryan DiPaolo went down holding his leg, but the howling, the screams, the pounding of the fist on the ground that indicates a frustration that THIS could be the season-ending injury to a senior who is an Oregon boy who has worked his way up to an opportunity to start….is just heart-rendering. At one point the screams made me turn away…and I commented to ducklar how this reminded me a lot of when Zack Freiter went down for a whole season on a similar type of injury in a scrimmage that had the same type of reaction to the pain of it. What was that….96, 97, or 98? Doesn’t matter…gruesome is gruesome. Let’s all pray for healing for this fine fellow…..
Punting was an interesting surprise as it appears we have TWO punters who can, at times, punt it 50 yards+. Josh Syria booms a nice spiral and he was hitting VERY close to the sidelines a bunch of times which indicates that 1) it was planned to cut off directions of punt returns, and 2) he can ACTUALLY do it when intended and under a punt blocking rush. He bunted one that went about 40 yards but bounced before the returner could get to it…then it bounced again right-down-the-sideline to end up being over 50 yards with no return. VERY sweet. However there is a #26 in a green jersey who was NOT on the listing with e-duck, or GoDucks.com, or even the rosters provided by the team to the spectators who showed up. This mystery walk-on is a little guy….as small or smaller than Luke Bellotti, but has some very serious SNAP at the end of his punting motion. He obliterated a couple of punts that were all 48 yards+ and he had the punt returners scrambling to get back or over to where he was placing them. It was all very encouraging to me for a first contact practice….excellent potential with Syria, but fortunately the mystery player is going to push him or win the spot with superb distance. I also noticed how Josh was nailing some nice spirals that cut through the air impressively and the hang time has got to please Coach Bellotti. I am hard to impress with punting, and we have a long way to go…but we are MILES better than last year, or the year before, or the year before, AT THE SAME TIME. Count our blessings here. (I apply a disclaimer on the distances as ducklar counted them out…and he isn’t very good at numbers)
I don’t want to repeat everything written before,…but Marvin Johnson does NOT look like a Rover or Safety; he LOOKS like a
Linebacker…has that thick build and carries himself like a LB…interesting to see where he ends up. Mark Asper is a MONSTER. Geez…6’7″ and over 315? So many times you see those tall types being slender as well and being 280-290 lbs. Get a look at his calves and lower leg and you’ll see a solid big guy who is going to grow into a VERY impressive build. His footwork pleases the coaches and I liked how (in a drill) he used his height to his advantage in creating some leverage as opposed to stretching out and making it a problem. I like the thought of him taking on athletic DEs down the road….
We had some amusing new drills that emphasized the player getting position by using his feet and being quick, as opposed to raw power. DTs come pretty stout these days, (as we’ll see with the two freshmen this fall) and we have to do more in space with the spread. It is a noticable difference in emphasis to this old offensive lineman. (or was I just offensive?) One drill has the DE starting with a slight angle advantage in coming in from the left, and the guard is supposed to work his feet in little steps to keep up and ride him outside. HALF the entertainment is watching Greatwood implore his player to give it more effort and when he wins the short match…then watching Grey really get pissed at poor technique, or not exploding at the right time by HIS defender. There was a winner and loser in every matchup and the Coaches were putting their heart into teaching these young men how to win the NEXT one. On one occasion I noticed how a defender got a little edge in the first half-second, but the offensive guard then exploded outside and drove while working his feet. Now the defender could see that his positioning was getting worse and then he put another blast on. Now the Offensive guard used his energy against him as he timed his push…with his feet and drove the defender to the sidelines. It was Josh Tschirgi and this senior clearly knew what he was doing….it was interesting to see how he used his strength, his knowledge of timing of explosion, and leverage with the little steps to win the battle as a senior would. Good stuff.
The offensive linemen were doing a practice drill that I’ve never seen; now it COULD have always been there, but I haven’t noticed it before! They would snap the ball, release and go to predetermined targets, (LBs and DBs) and approach them and instead of hitting them straight-on…they would almost do a cartwheel beginning in front of the defender. They would go hands down in front and whirl their body into the defender with the momentum built. Then as they landed they would turn their hips inward to “pin” the defender from being able to turn downfield. As Spock would say,”fascinating”. I don’t know if this blocking scheme is used for a draw, for a screen, but if these blocks are completed and the wave that was released and let through do not stop the play…then the potential is huge. It strikes me as a way to block for a short pass to the RBs? Bottom line is that is certainly looks SPREAD oriented and I suspect is part of the packages brought by our new Offensive Coordinator. Watch for this block in the Spring Game…..
In another drill we saw Offensive linemen working on their double teams, and the defensive linemen working at BUSTING that double-team. Sonny Harris looked TOUGH as he has shed that obvious amount of baby fat that he had earlier. He was quick, athletic and STRONG as he broke through TWO O-linemen to make the tackle. In the contact plays near the end of the practice I couldn’t help but notice Filipe come crashing through a double team in the same way and just blow up a hand-off in the backfield. Again an experienced senior using his smarts and technique to stop a drive with such a big loss on 2nd down.
In some passing drills I was talking with ducklar when we noticed a pass play broken up on the sidelines by one of the big hits of the day. I heard him say, “I bet it was Agyeman”. I asked why and he sneered at me, “because that was the type of hit Kwame makes!” (sometimes his seemingly superior knowledge of the Ducks gets annoying…but he knows his stuff) Sure enough…#30 came up from the bottom of the pile. Later we saw Ryan Keeling catch a ball for an instant and then came a huge hit that stripped the ball as he was turning forward. The ball was caught in mid-air and run back for a TD. Agyeman AGAIN on the hit.
I’ve read some about Jerome Boyd being impressive already, but I wasn’t looking for him…he was standing out in really tough open-field tackles on RBs and wideouts that you would have thought would juke him silly. He is a LB with Free-Safety type of agility and he stuck Alston, JJ, and Dickson in one-on-one tackles that stopped them for a one yard or no gain, and if he missed… the RB has ten yards before he’s touched again. Those are plays that kill drives—and we are seeing the experienced players step up in just the first contact practice.
On offense….I like the crispness of Dixon’s passes; it’s not just that they’re bullets. You can sense an air of authority and confidence in his passes, and while I’m a Costa fan…I could not deny Dennis the A+ performance in throws and leadership. He had no one open on one sequence, so he zipped one high and out where only the receiver could make a play at it. Well, Garren Strong just GRABBED it out of the air with his hands extended and pulled it in. We heard the “clap” of the ball hitting his hands from across the field and thought for sure that he’d drop it…but no, he pulled it in for a big first down. Those are the type of plays we NEED from our seniors this fall…..
I also liked the tough catches made inside by Ed Dickson. He has a tight end body and fluidity with speed like a wide-out, and I love how he could make the difficult catch with a LB draped upon him and then he would shake that fellow and turn upfield for more yardage. He’s a tough matchup for any safety or LB next year….
Colvin is showing flashes of potential….with athletic catches that he HOLDS onto. One tough one was high and outside on the sideline; he caught it, pulled his feet inbounds, and then drew it into his body. The defender was NOT going to let the catch stand and was burrowing into Cams body to gain leverage and pry the ball away as they hit the ground. Cam stayed locked on the ball as they hit and Colvin would NOT let go of the ball…even after the whistle blew. At that point I saw a frustrated Chung jump up and swinging his arms at the air in frustration. Good matchup of talent on talent!
On one seven-on-seven we had Costa looking over the patterns developing and he saw what I saw…no one was really open and the defenders were stuck pretty close to their prey. Then I looked over as Nate released a lofting spiral that floated just inches over the hands of the safety, and into the arms of Keeling. Very-very sweet.
The freshman, Johnson was matched up with Brian Paysinger and the veteran put a second juke that got a commitment from the defender and then “Pace” blew past the newbie who was left in the dust. Dennis put an easy spiral in the breadbasket and we had an easy score as Paysinger glided into the end zone. More senior knowledge and experience!
Maybe it was me…maybe it was the JJ admiration society meeting taking place on our sideline as we gushed about JJs smooth running form and how he would be dead-in-the-water with defenders directly in front of him, yet somehow he juked and used his blockers to come up with nice gains. Is that how he averaged a fricken SEVEN YARDS a carry last year? His trademark shoulder shrug freezes them EVEN when they know it’s coming! He’ll cut to the outside and with the occasional cut-back he’s done before to the inside…it makes the defender hesitate when he shrugs inside and then blows outside and reaches the corner before they do…even though the DEFENDER had angle to start with. It’s amazing….and he does it so fast and effortlessly….. Our RBs are seemingly–power and glide…power and glide….what a combo!
Well…that’s enough from the book of “FishDuck” for today. Imagine what I can write with a more exciting scrimmage!
Geez we love our Ducks….
Drew Davis looked physically like a college receiver which is saying something, but he did not stand out and I wouldn’t expect a 17 year old high schooler to stand out over a couple of seniors in Colvin,Strong, and Paysinger. The only time I noticed him is when he lined up and I was wondering who this new number was.
As for LBs….I can’t tell you other than the separate hits done by Agyeman and Boyd that I saw. As for reading plays, shedding blocks, stuffing gaps, etc….I’d have to watch them separately and I can’t watch them, the wide-outs, the QBs, the O-Line blocking, etc at the same time. I need someone else to watch them separately and write about them, because I agree that the LB unit could spell the difference between success and failure next year.
I would LOVE to have someone go into detail on specific plays like I have on offense with the LBs…. Ever notice how STERILE so many of the newspaper and online reports from the “official” sources are? Lame.
|Posted on 04/07/2007 4:23 PM|
Re: Famous FishDuck Scrimmage Report
My two cents:
Brandon Bair is a monster. He improved his body immensely since last season. If he works on technique this year at DE, he will dominate. Also, he has incredible hops, and he will be our kick blocker for years to come.
On the other hand, Manley looks like he put on some unintended weight. He looked slower.
Paysinger is the man, he is a great #1 receiver…and yes, I remember JWill.
Drew Davis looks a little out of his league at this point. He dropped more than a couple passes, which is often an indication of a kid who is thinking too much about his assignments.
Roper was throwing frozen ropes one second, then fluttering ducks the next.
Leaf looks bored, almost resigned to his fate.
Glasper is looking much better so far this season, and could fill the hole left by Bates.
Chip Kelly spends sooooo much time working on the QB decision making. Good to see considering the poor performance in that area last season. *cough* Cal game *cough*.
|Posted on 04/07/2007 4:36 PM|
Hawaii…BIG answers for you!
A report like that for EVERY day of spring practice? Give me a break! Perhaps if I was retired with nothing else to do….and maybe I will in about 25-30 years. Which begs the question…why DON’T some of the retired guys do a report like that EVERY day?
What am I paying the most attention this spring? Interesting question in that I recognize that spring is a time when they do alot of experimentation of new plays, blocking schemes, players at different spots, etc, thus I try NOT to read too much into what is happening in the spring. I confess that at QB….I am watching Costa. Why? Because I have NO IDEA what the senior QBs are going to do in the games….I have NEVER seen an Oregon QB beat Oklahoma..and then go through a fade as we saw. It was BIZARRE. I have never seen Junior QBs look WORSE in their bowl game than the year before when they were sophomores. (Holiday vs. Vegas Bowls) Sooooo, since I have no idea if the senior QBs are going to play well or keep it up throughout the season…then I want to watch the backup plan, and that is Costa. If we have to depend upon him…what a waste of a season, but I need to see more to give me hope in case we do. Face it…this is the worst QBing we have seen at Oregon in 20 years. (with the exception of ’88 when Musgrave went down, and ’91 when we went through 4 QBs) So I have to be realistic and accept the possibility that the senior QBs may NOT get better, thus what is plan B? Costa.
The second area I’m watching is the fill-ins on the Offensive Line; with starters at Tackle being out with injuries and replacing a starting center and right guard…we have some faces that have played and are getting a chance to shine, and I think they CAN. Lewis, Kendal, and Hucko can play quite well, and we might be able to do some new things with the new OC due to their athleticsm.
The third area is the wide-outs. At Oregon…we have a tradition of porous defense and winning by outscoring the other offense. Like or not, (and I DON’T…especially with the defenses I’ve seen assembled at OSU and WSU) it IS the way we are the majority of the time, hence I have learned to live with it. So…how HAVE we outscored the other teams? It has been with superior wide-outs that get open. Ask yourself HONESTY….which receiver corps would you like to gone to war with last year? The one we had, or ’94 with Dameron Ricketts, Pat Johnson, and Cristin McLemore? or ’99 with Hartley, and Howry? or ’01 with Tucker, Willis, and Parker? Hmmmmm. By comparison our receiving corps now are INADEQATE. (I had a much tougher label, but you all would have called me out on it) Call that harsh, but results are the name of the game and the results this year HAVE to improve to avoid that label….when compared to good Oregon teams of the past. And that IS what we want, right? A good Oregon team?
It takes superior talent and judgement at receivers and I’m watching for it. My observation of great receiving corps includes a burner to stretch defenses like Johnson or Parker, (or someone skilled at getting open deep like Howry did) and an absolute possession wide-out that we could ALWAYS count on for the crucial first down like a Hartley or Dee Williams. Problem is….I don’t see EITHER of those type of players among our group. They ALL have been inconsistent and sporatic….good and then disappear. Get open deep for a few games,…and then nothing. Make the tough first down catches…and then drop a bunch. In the end…this group will make or break us because if the receivers get open..even a sophomore QB like Costa can get the ball to them, but if they don’t get open…then it doesn’t matter WHO is QBing; you’re screwed.
The last area is I’m watching is Defensive End. We need a good couple of pass-rushers BAD, and we have NOT had superior results at that position. The position is RICH with drama and interest this next year for me….. Will undersized Reed get the job done, or is this another poor man’s replacement for what we need? Can Manley fulfill that incredible athletic potential that he exudes? What about Filipe? Rumors abound that MB was ready to move on without him and encouraged him to play at the end last year and use up his eligibility. It will be interesting to see….was MB RIGHT in that accessment, or will VP come forward with a vengence and show everyone the athlete that he is and is NFL bound? Finally #39….Will Tukuafu sure looks the stud part..but can he play? The track record is impressive, but will it translate to D-1 and be the dominate DE that he wants to be and WE NEED?!
Really, Really good questions and I relish watching the whole drama play out….and hope it plays out well for the team. Since I’m not watching the LBs…I’m hoping someone else will.
Gadfry…do we LOVE watching our Ducks or what?
|Posted on 04/07/2007 10:22 PM|
Re: DuckR….interesting question about…
Its nice to have some football to talk about, even if it is just the early days of spring practice. Some random thoughts on the thoughts:
* In the past, while far from anything personal, I have been one who has been somewhat critical of the production coming from the LB corps. I like what I hear about Jerome “fastest LB in over 25 years at UO” Boyd perhaps challenging for a bigger role this fall; but, if it does end up being “the undersized duo” of KA and AJ, I don’t think it necessarily spells the “disaster” other posters have hinted at. Both these guys are experienced and will benefit according. I would say MLB remains the great unknown; and, if KA and AJ do start at the outside spots, I think we can count on a fairly consistent level of play.
* I go back and forth about the WR. Sometimes I tend towards the option that they underachieve sometimes and aren’t consitently getting open enough; but, then I watch some tape of some of the games towards the end of the season and I see QBs who aren’t able to get them the ball. The great thing about the Harrington/Howry due was that Keenan knew how to just get a step or two ahead on the DB and Harrington had the confidence and ability (and time) to deliver the ball to him. At times during the BYU game I saw bit and pieces on the replay where WR clearly were open downfield with confused QBs running around with their heads down already given up on their primary reads. This clearly has to be the most athletically talented group of WR ever assembled at the UO. Williams, Colvin, Paysinger, and Strong have the tools to be a great core group of WR, it is up the coaches and players themselves to see this potential through.
* It will be interesting to see what happens with the OL this fall. While on paper this OL was pretty productive, on the field it didn’t always seem to translate into the kind of dominance one might expect looking at the numbers. With the short drops and the lanes sometimes opened up for the RBs in the spread, I think at times the low sack numbers and rush yards against lesser competition were a bit more “system based” than due to “out and out” OL dominance (especially against better competition where the sack totals immediately seemed to go up and the rush yards down). In the spread, I don’t think you necessarily need the same kind of talent at OT as you do in the “pro set”. I thought Enoka was great; but, I don’t necessarily think he had a great senior year. I think there is potential for a much stronger interior part of the OL (with Unger at C), which should lend itself to better running in between the tackles, which should be among Stewart’s many strengths.
* Is Johnson a FS or SS? He would appear suited to play either; and, given his strong showing last year as a redshirt, might he be a candidate for FS this fall if Bryd doesn’t move and Depaola indeed is out?
|Posted on 04/08/2007 8:48 AM|
Re: Famous FishDuck Scrimmage Report
First of all, I want to say thanks to Fish for supplying this report, I don’t know how you keep all that info in your head without writing anything down. Secondly, it was a pleasure to meet you in person. Now, I want to give my assessment of the wr position since that’s what I played in college and I also played for coach Pflu;
J Williams- Great talent, good speed, very strong, imho lacks focus and concentration, drops way too many balls. Personally has NFL written all over him, but needs to develop a better work ethic, if I were JW I would be out catching 100 balls before and after every practice with a ball machine.
Colvin- Has all the tools to succeeed, needs to stay healthy and hang on to the ball. Has had good practices so far this spring.
Strong- Very good wr, needs to stay healthy, will contribute if does.
Paysinger- Good wr who seems to disappear sometimes, but has good speed and physical talent.
Davis- He is a Senior in high school who is playing with the big boys. He is in that thinking too much mode instead of reacting phase which is expected. I think a year from now you will see a completely different guy who isn’t awed, intimadated and can just react and use his talents. He justs needs time to get comfortable and I see him as a redshirt his first year unless injury dictates otherwise.
Jones- Need him to get healthy quickly.
We need the JC wr to come in and pick things up quickly, because at least 6-7 wr will be needed this year. This is one position that scares me a little because of the history of injury with some of these guys and the lack of depth available.
Again Fish, thanks for your time and effort to put these reports together. Being in Phoenix and not being here often, I really look forward to your reports. Thanks.