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Not ready for prime time.

Byline: Bob Clark The Register-Guard

The instant analysis of Oregon's first scrimmage would be that the offense is more effective when lined up in the T-formation, the defense is far ahead as a unit and touted freshman running back Jonathan Stewart is lost somewhere deep on the depth chart.

That's only partially correct. Stewart, who didn't get on the field in Tuesday's scrimmage, really isn't behind all four of the tailbacks who carried for the Ducks but rather was held out after straining an oblique muscle during drills earlier in the practice.

`I expect him to be back full go' for Thursday's practices, UO coach Mike Bellotti said.

Now, about the rest of it ...

The defense certainly is ahead, coming up with two turnovers and limiting the offense to 54 total yards in the 27 plays run from scrimmage.

`I like the way our defense is flying around,' Bellotti said. `The defense came up with some key turnovers and that's extremely important ... that's something we wanted to improve upon.

`However, when it happens against our own offense, you're not very happy about it.'

The offense didn't quite look ready for a full-scale scrimmage on the first day players were in full pads and the entire squad was united after four days of the newcomers and veterans being split up for workouts.

`We rarely scrimmage the first day of pads, and it showed,' Bellotti said.

The first teams were paired off to start the scrimmage, and that possession lasted one play when Kellen Clemens was intercepted by cornerback Aaron Gipson.

The second teams were then matched, and that possession ended on the fourth play when tailback Terrell Jackson fumbled a pitch and defensive tackle David Faaeteete recovered.

Enter the third units, and Brady Leaf's incomplete pass wasn't the worst of the play as novice receiver Jordan Kent, the two-sport athlete trying a third, shoved off the defender for a fairly blatant example of offensive pass interference.

That was six offensive plays, with two turnovers and two probable penalties that would have nullified any gains by the offense, had officials been throwing flags.

`It's good to get those things out of the way early,' Bellotti said of the offensive mistakes.

Leaf, with an 11-yard completion to freshman Andrew Murphy that was the longest pass play of the scrimmage, moved his offensive unit from its starting point at the 35-yard line to the 21 where kicker Paul Martinez was wide right on a 38-yard attempt. Martinez was also short from 52 yards on a subsequent possession.

Though backup kicker Matt Evensen did convert a 32-yard field goal, Bellotti promised more work on the kicking game, with the two misses by Martinez `absolutely unacceptable. My initial impression was that the snap and hold were decent. We should have made those kicks.'

About all that went well for the offense was the running of Terrence Whitehead on the second possession for the starting offense. He gained 24 yards on four rushes, all with the Ducks operating out of the more traditional T-formation instead of the quarterback lined up five yards behind the center in the shotgun alignment the Ducks are using for their new spread offense.

So is it back to two tight ends and two backs instead of all those receivers spread around the field? Well, not quite.

`It's a different scheme, more of a power running game and something he was used to last year,' Bellotti said of Whitehead's running success. `He's a strong inside runner. He's got tremendous ability to break tackles and bounce off people and drag people.

`It's his forte, there's no question about it, and that will be an integral part of our offense.'

Bellotti said the offense will probably line up in the T-formation for some work every day the Ducks are in full pads and certainly for the next two scrimmages, to both keep them sharp on the more traditional running plays and to allow the defense to work against what it will see run by opponents during the season.

Whitehead's backups combined for six rushes for a net gain of nine yards. The longest running play of the scrimmage was Dixon's keeper on an option for a gain of 13 yards, but he ended up with zero net yards on four carries after a high snap caused a 10-yard loss before he was sacked by defensive end Nate LiaBraaten for another five-yard loss.

Dixon completed both of his pass attempts for a gain of three yards, the same statistical results of redshirt freshman Kyle Bennett, who ran the fourth offensive unit. Leaf completed 2-of-4 passes for 14 yards, with Clemens incomplete on his three attempts.

Clemens left the scrimmage after his third attempt when a pair of defenders put more of a hit on the starting quarterback than the Ducks might have wanted, considering the quarterbacks are wearing red jerseys to remind defenders to ease up. Clemens was slow getting up, though he was able to walk without help to the sideline.

`I asked him how he was,' Bellotti said. `It was like one of those cartoons where his eyes were still bouncing around. We'll check him out, but I think he's OK.'

CAPTION(S):

Brady Leaf is wrapped up by the defense during the University of Oregon's first scrimmage of the season Tuesday. Leaf's 11-yard completion to freshman Andrew Murphy was the longest pass play of the scrimmage. Kevin Clark / The Register-Guard Tailback Jeremiah Johnson is hit behind the line of scrimmage by linebacker John Bacon during the scrimmage.
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Title Annotation:Sports; Mistakes keep Oregon's offense from producing much in the first scrimmage of fall camp
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Aug 10, 2005
Words:924
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