Courtesy of Kevin Cline Photography
It is almost upon us, folks. Finally, we get to experience a little dose of what we all love so much, to get us through the next 4 months. The Oregon Ducks spring football game is this Saturday at 11 am. I will most definitely be in attendance to show my love and to check out a few things I am curious about. Here’s a few things I will be watching and you might also to get a glimpse of what the 2013 season could look like.
1. Backup QB competition:
After watching Marcus Mariota take control of the spring game last year and solidify his spot as the starting quarterback, we now get to watch another QB battle. Neither Jeff Lockie or Jake Rodrigues were available for the spring game last year, so we really don’t have a feel for either player. Mariota will take some snaps in this game but they will be minimal. I don’t put too much weight on this, but if Mariota starts, watch to see which QB will be starting opposite him; that might give some indication of who is ahead in the race.
I say “if” Mariota starts because they might want to encourage competition between Lockie and Rodrigues, and not tip their hat as to who may be in the lead to be backup. It’s a possibility that Mariota will come in to take a few snaps here and there rather than start the game. I am very excited to see how their styles contrast and what they will be bringing to the team, and to watch Rodrigues move around and see how his leg has healed.
2. Redshirt Freshmen:
There is a ton of potential talent coming off of redshirt seasons this year. I am particularly looking forward to watching Chance Allen, Reggie Daniels, Oshay Dunmore, Brett Bafaro, Evan Baylis, and the Amoako twins. Will Allen add great talent to the receiving core? Will Daniels show up as a safety and look up to speed? How are the Ducks going to use Dunmore, who could be put at multiple spots? Will Bafaro add much needed depth and talent at the linebacker position? How will the Amoako twins look, and will one be better than the other? We had the chance to see Baylis in the spring game last year, but Pharoah Brown got the nod for backup to Lyerla.
3. Byron Marshall and Ayele Forde:
With only three scholarship running backs on hand for the Ducks, we will get the chance to see what the backups can do. De’Anthony Thomas will not be receiving many snaps as they do not want to risk anything with him. Will Marshall pick up where he left off last season and continue to develop? Ford was a walk on but worked his way into a scholarship, so he must be doing something right. It will be nice to see him get some good carries and watch what he can do. This game will give a slight indication of whether or not Oregon will have the opportunity to redshirt one or both of the incoming freshman.
4. What will the offense look like:
With a new coach on hand, there will be some changes with the offense. If you don’t believe that, then you are in for a rude awakening. The only question will be if those changes are significant enough for the untrained eye to pick up on. Will there be tweaks to certain formations? Will there be an obvious increase in passing plays? Will De’Anthony truly be the starting running back, or continue in the tazer position? I doubt we will have the answer about DAT until the season starts. One thing I am looking forward to finding out is how Helfrich will handle 4th down situations. We all remember Chip and the chant that Oregon fans started referring to his testicular fortitude. Will Helfrich be just as gutsy?
5. The O-Line:
With so many starters and backups injured for the spring game, what will it look like? We’ll get a great opportunity to see some of the potential backups and what they are capable of. Will this affect how the offense operates, like slowing down the run game, allowing more sacks? I am looking forward to seeing what Andre Yruretagoyena and Everett Benyard look like, and how they perform in Autzen. The depth of this position is crucial to having a good season as linemen are more susceptible to injuries.
6. The Linebackers:
With Kiko Alonso and Michael Clay gone, Oregon needs players to step up at this position. Tyson Coleman seemed to develop very well last season and will likely be a starter along with Boseko Lokombo. I am looking forward to seeing how Rodney Hardrick and Brett Bafaro respond to a lot of snaps. Do they show the natural skill set it takes to control the middle of the field? Also, JC transfer Joe Walker will be on hand. How fast has he learned the defense? Could he thrust himself into the starting line up before the season starts?
These are just a few of the many things I will be paying close attention to. Also, I encourage all of you to soak in the atmosphere, and have a fun safe time tailgating as we will be entering another drought of football until August 31st. Go Ducks!!!