Dixon draws attention.
Darkhorse, sleeper - those descriptions no longer fit the Heisman Trophy candidacy of UO quarterback Dennis Dixon.
These week, he's a front-runner.
Dixon is second in the latest Rocky Mountain News poll of 10 Heisman voters, and second in the weekly "experts poll" conducted by ESPN.com. In both cases he is behind Matt Ryan, the senior quarterback at Boston College.
Dixon was generally considered to be fourth in the Heisman race last week, behind Ryan, Florida quarterback Tim Tebow and Kentucky quarterback Andre Woodson. Both SEC teams suffered a third loss over the past weekend, dropping Tebow behind Dixon, and Woodson out of the race almost completely.
Dixon has fewer passing yards (1,885 vs. 2,469) and touchdowns (16 vs. 19) than Ryan, but a better completion percentage (68.8 vs. 61.0) and fewer interceptions (three vs. eight). Ryan has five rushing yards and one touchdown on the ground, while Dixon has 492 rushing yards and five touchdowns.
No. 2 Boston College is 8-0 after winning at Virginia Tech last week, and No. 4 Oregon is 7-1 after beating USC at home. The Eagles host Florida State this week, and Oregon welcomes No. 6 Arizona State in a game that ESPN will broadcast nationally, a boon to Dixon's Heisman hopes.
"You've just got to go out there and play every day, and prove you're capable of being that," Dixon said Tuesday.
Against the Trojans, Dixon was 16-of-25 for 157 yards, with no passing touchdowns for the first time this season. But he ran for 76 yards and a touchdown, didn't throw an interception and - most important to his coach - led the Ducks to a victory.
"He's making great decisions, and great plays with the ball in his hands," UO coach Mike Bellotti said. "And he's leading an offense that still is one of the top five in the nation in most categories."
Saturday's game against the Sun Devils is one of three to be televised by either ESPN or ESPN2 in Oregon's final four games of the regular season. Promoting those opportunities to see Dixon in action will be the focus of Oregon's attempts to market him as a Heisman candidate, UO officials said.
Dixon won't he subjected to the onslaught of interviews faced by Oregon's last serious Heisman candidate, Joey Harrington, a finalist in 2001. Still, Dixon participated in his first media teleconference of the year Tuesday, with reporters from Arizona, and also spoke with a reporter from USA Today before meeting briefly with local media before practice.
"I've never done so many interviews in one day in my life," Dixon said. "It's real mind-boggling. But then again, you've got to take it. It's part of the job. You've just got to focus.
"I'm trying my best in everything I do, and hopefully it's improving."
Osborne pleased with former players' success
There will be some familiar faces across the field Saturday for UO special teams coordinator and tight ends coach Tom Osborne. He spent the last six years in a similar capacity with the Sun Devils before returning to the Ducks this offseason, after former ASU coach Dirk Koetter was fired in November.
Arizona State went 7-6 last season and is unbeaten this fall under new coach Dennis Erickson.
"I'm very happy for the players, very, very happy for them," Osborne said. "Coaching's about relationships, and you're with guys every single day. ... Of course you want those guys to have great success. I'm very happy for those guys, how their season's gone. I want them to have all the success in the world. But, that's our next opponent."
Special teams are a point of emphasis in practice this week, Bellotti said. The Ducks were held below their season averages in kickoff and punt returns by the Trojans, and allowed USC to average 24 yards on kickoff returns.
Manley out of action a year after big game against ASU
Oregon's game at Arizona State last season was the highlight of defensive end Dexter Manley II's one-year UO career.
Manley had three sacks in the Ducks' 48-13 win in Tempe, Ariz. The junior college transfer left the program over the summer and transferred to West Texas A&M for his final season of eligibility.
Manley missed the first game of this season due to a lingering injury, then suffered a season-ending knee injury in the third game. The defensive end finished the season with two assisted tackles, one-half tackle for loss and one quarterback hurry.
A West Texas A&M spokesman said Manley is still enrolled in school, and the program is exploring the option of a medical hardship so he can regain a season of eligibility.
Traffic violations led to Ducks' license suspensions
Oregon linebacker Kevin Garrett and receiver Derrick Jones, each cited on Oct. 15 for driving with a suspended license, have endured lengthy suspensions, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Garrett's license has been suspended since May 2006, and Jones' license has been suspended since May 2007, a DMV spokesman said last week. Garrett was previously cited for driving with a suspended license in April.
Both suspensions were related to the players' failure to properly address multiple traffic violations.
Ex-Sheldon standout Moos redshirting for Sun Devils
Among the more familiar names on Arizona State's roster is that of redshirting freshman Bo Moos, son of former University of Oregon athletic director Bill Moos and a Sheldon High School graduate.
Bo Moos is a 6-foot-2, 296-pound defensive end for the Sun Devils. Though not a member of ASU's official travelling party, Moos was planning to be in Eugene for Saturday's game.
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|Title Annotation:||Football Oregon; The Ducks' quarterback has moved into the top two in a publication's Heisman poll|
|Publication:||The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)|
|Date:||Oct 31, 2007|
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