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Quick notes from Oregon's practice

4/9/2010

EUGENE, Ore. -- Watched Oregon practice Friday before trucking to the airport, so here are some quick observations.

  • The most important thing: The notion that the Ducks are going to go rear-end-over-tea-kettle without suspended quarterback Jeremiah Masoli is absurd. There's too much skill on both sides of the ball for them not be a major factor in the Pac-10 race.

  • Still, it's hard to look at No. 8 lining up as a slot receiver and not wonder what might have been, even with the season months away.

  • As for the quarterback competition between senior Nate Costa and sophomore Darron Thomas, both appear capable of competently running the offense. Here's a guess that Costa owns a slight lead (understand that coach Chip Kelly offered no such analysis). Costa clearly knows the offense and seems confident running it. He also appears to be regaining confidence in his knees, despite three surgeries. He showed some nice quickness both scrambling and running the spread option. Thomas has a lot of skill and upside as a runner and passer. He does, however, tend to lock on his intended receiver, which led to a couple of picks Friday. By the way, No. 3 quarterback Daryle Hawkins made a number of nice passes.

  • A second guess: Both quarterbacks will play in 2010. Whether it's because Kelly decides to use two quarterbacks or because one guy gets injured, it just seems a reasonable bet to expect to see both at some point. How many Pac-10 teams used only one QB last season? (Answer: two -- Oregon State and Washington).

  • Tight end Brandon Williams, a JC transfer, certainly looks the part. His 6-foot-4, 235-pound frame, in fact, makes him look a bit like an Ed Dickson clone.

  • There's no "bunker mentality" with the team, despite the off-field problems. Practices are open. Players talk freely about all that has happened. Kelly, who looked like he was eating a bag of lemons during his many media moments over the past six weeks speaking about the off-field issues, is positively buoyant at practice -- very active coaching and trading barbs with players. He even volunteered to play cameraman for a video that shortly will appear on the Pac-10 blog.

  • Hard to imagine there are too many backfield tandems more explosive than LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner.

  • Eddie Pleasant's move from linebacker to safety is receiving mostly rave reviews. He intercepted a Thomas pass on Friday.

  • While the defense has been in control much of spring practice, the offense won the day, 98-95.

  • Said Kelly after the sixth spring practice concluded, "We haven't had a bad day."