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LiaBraaten preparing to cross line.

Byline: Bob Clark The Register-Guard

Nate LiaBraaten, clad in the green jersey of an Oregon defensive player, tossed his white offensive jersey to the side of the field as he arrived at practice.

It may not be long before he can leave the white No. 88 in his locker, based on early reviews of his switch from offensive tight end to defensive end.

`I'm very pleased with the quick transition he's making,' UO defensive line coach Steve Greatwood said. `I see some natural instincts there. He does some things without really having to coach it.'

For the rest of spring drills, UO coach Mike Bellotti said the 6-foot-4, 256-pound junior will spend better than two-thirds of his time with the defense, and then a decision will be made on where he plays next season. Greatwood said his mind is all but made.

`I've been trying to get him for a couple of years,' Greatwood said. `In his first (fall), he impressed all of us with his toughness as a tight end on the scout team. We knew that wasn't going to be an issue.'

With Devan Long and Victor Filipe currently out for health reasons, Oregon's only scholarship defensive ends this spring are junior Darius Sanders and senior Chris Solomona, currently lining up with the first defense. At LiaBraaten's former tight end position, Oregon has starter Tim Day, sophomore letterman Dan Kause and senior Eddie Whitaker, plus a couple of walk-ons to provide depth until Thurston senior Ryan Keeling arrives in August.

While LiaBraaten has shown potential at tight end, particularly with his pass-catching ability, he may have a more direct path to playing time on defense.

`I really expect him to be in our two-deep,' Greatwood said. `If that wasn't the case we wouldn't make this move.'

Ducks expect more

out of second scrimmage

The Ducks will conclude their second week of spring drills with a one-hour scrimmage at the end of today's practice.

`What I want to see is more enthusiasm, more excitement, more flying around, and probably as the kids learn the schemes and the systems, it allows them to play faster,' Bellotti said.

One emphasis in the scrimmage, Bellotti said, will be to `correct' mistakes made in the first scrimmage a week ago. Spring scrimmages are part of the process, the coach reminded reporters, just as are all drills during any practice whether on a Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday.

`We place way too much emphasis on the scrimmages,' Bellotti said. `You guys do, I do, the players do. Practices are just as important. ... We get better in practices. That's when we can work on techniques we can take into the scrimmages.'

The Ducks also will do some work in kicking game situations today as they resolve their depth charts for the special teams as well as the offense and defense. One slight change today in the scrimmage might be fewer snaps for the reserve quarterbacks after all four on scholarship were involved almost equally last week.

`I would hope to get them all some work, (but) there will probably be a greater focus on ones and twos, and not quite as much opportunity for threes and fours,' Bellotti said.

Former Duck Kevin Mack

in spotlight of BET

A former UO player has shown up not only on another college football roster, but on a television show as well.

Kevin Mack, a defensive end when he wasn't on suspended status in a couple of years with the Ducks, is now a junior at Southern University. That's also the site of Black Entertainment Television's reality show, `College Hill.'

According to the university's newspaper, the Southern Digest, `the show follows the students as they go about their everyday lives and deal with day-to-day issues.'

Mack is described as `the jock of the group' of students.

`He focuses solely on socializing with the ladies and playing football,' according to the newspaper. `His lazy streak may cause him to oversleep but never on game day!'

Las Vegas Bowl

abandons Christmas Eve

The Las Vegas Bowl's Christmas Eve experiment is over.

Bowl organizers announced Friday that this year's game, which pairs the No. 5 selection from the Pac-10 with the No. 2 team from the Mountain West Conference, will be moved to Dec. 23. ESPN will televise the game live beginning at 6:45 p.m. PST.

Oregon State's 55-14 victory over New Mexico drew an announced crowd of 25,437 last year to 36,800-seat Sam Boyd Stadium.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Sports; The Ducks are testing junior tight end Nate LiaBraaten at defensive end
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Apr 17, 2004
Previous Article:It's all Greek to Stavros.
Next Article:Cooper's move has Oregon searching.

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