Oregon spring wrap-up


Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

1. Passing the test: The Ducks passing game was only OK last year -- ranking fifth in the Pac-10 -- and with two of the top three receivers leaving, it was a question mark entering spring. It's less so now. Both quarterbacks Jeremiah Masoli and Justin Roper threw well, particularly in the spring game, while Jamere Holland led a receiving corps that appears capable and deep. No longer does it seem essential that JC transfer Tyrece Gaines and freshman Diante Jackson contribute from game one.

2. Linebacking up: Oregon's linebackers have been mostly mediocre in recent years, but this crew has a chance to tip the scales from middling to good. Casey Matthews, Spencer Paysinger and Eddie Pleasant give the Ducks a solid troika of experienced starters, with JC transfer Bryson Littlejohn, Dewitt Stuckey and Josh Kaddu providing depth.

3. DL hope: Oregon lost three starters from its 2008 defensive line, and projected 2009 starter Tonio Celotto quit football. All that raised eyebrows, but the D-line controlled the line of scrimmage throughout the spring. Will Tukuafu, the lone returning stater, tackles Brandon Bair, Blake Ferras and Simi Toeaina and end Kenny Rowe showed promise up front. The question, though, is whether much of their success was a function of the banged-up offensive line's struggles.

Fall questions

1. O-line woes: With returning starters C.E. Kaiser and Bo Thran sitting out due to injuries, the offensive line was green and it looked the part during spring practices. Run and pass blocking were problems. Moreover, when the injured players return, there's still a question of who will be the fifth starter and whether there will be some reshuffling of positions in the fall.

2. Thurmond sidekick? Cornerback Walter Thurmond, who was banged up much of last year, was healthy during spring practices and he looked like the NFL prospect he is. But who will play opposite him and fill the void left by the early departure of Jairus Byrd to the NFL? Will it be Talmadge Jackson or Willie Glasper, who were both injured, or will someone else step up?

3. Nothing special: A lot is expected of incoming punter Jackson Rice and kicker Mike Bowlin, particularly after the inconsistency -- and downright awfulness (see the spring game) -- of the kicking and punting. If those guys aren't ready, special teams may be an adventure next fall, though it's worth noting the kicker Morgan Flint, who was mostly solid last year, may have just had an off couple of weeks.