EUGENE, Ore. -- The Ducks held their annual spring scrimmage on Saturday. Technically, team Mariasu won, but from a fan’s perspective, everyone won because they got to watch actual football in Autzen Stadium. And from a coach’s perspective, everyone won because no one got hurt.
Now, it’s pretty hard to draw too many conclusions from a spring game considering it’s just one of 15 practices a team has in the spring. Oregon coach Mark Helfrich compared the scrimmage to a weighted final exam, saying Saturday’s performances make up “one eighth of the total grade.” But even though it was just a weighted exam, Saturday’s scrimmage taught us a few things about the Ducks heading into next fall.
What we learned:
1. Jake Rodrigues stood out in the QB competition. When Helfrich was asked for his thoughts about the backup quarterback play, he said, “Meh.” And yes, overall, it was meh. But if there had to be a backup QB after this game, the scales would tilt to Rodrigues. Rodrigues (by virtue of not being on Marcus Mariota's team) got more reps than Jeff Lockie, so Rodrigues had a larger sample size and more opportunities to impress. With that said, he looked to be the most complete QB not named Mariota. Both completed seven passes (Rodrigues attempted 18, Lockie attempted 12) but most of Rodrigues’ incompletions weren’t far off target, and he attempted a few bombs that showed confidence in his touch (and had they hit, he would’ve easily added another 60-plus yards passing to his totals). Certainly, the best option for the Ducks is for Mariota to play every single meaningful snap next fall. But, if push comes to shove, after today, the call seems as though it would probably go to Rodrigues.
2. There will be options at receiver. The Ducks were already looking to replace a lot of receiving yardage before receiver Bralon Addison went down this spring. But after that happened passing coordinator and wide receiver coach Mark Lubick said that he felt like his younger guys were stepping up and that they could be effective. Of course, it’s always easier to believe when you see it with your own eyes. And on Saturday, even though there were quite a few drops and it wasn’t always a completely even matchup, there looked to be a lot of potential at wide receiver. Eight different wide receivers caught passes (15 different players caught passes in all), accounting for 15 of the 28 receptions and 220 total yards. Devon Allen was the standout of the day with 94 yards and two touchdown receptions, both game highs. But fellow youngsters Darren Carrington, Chance Allen, Johnathan Loyd (who came over from the basketball team this spring) and Dwayne Stanford all looked good too.
3. DeForest Buckner had a very, very good offseason. The only returning starter on the defensive line, Buckner accounted for 2.5 tackles for a loss in the spring scrimmage after only tallying 3.5 all of last season. The Ducks' D-line must step up next fall, and if Buckner's performance on Saturday signifies anything, it's that the defensive line is making progress and going in the right direction. Buckner wasn't the only disruptive defensive lineman (junior college transfer Tui Talia had five tackles, including one for a loss; Stetzon Bair had seven tackles, including one for a loss; T.J. Daniel had five tackles), but he was certainly one that seemed to be around a lot of plays for the Ducks. If he can continue to do so next fall, the group could make major strides.
Note: These players weren’t in pads for the scrimmage: tight end Pharaoh Brown, linebacker Tyson Coleman, running back Lane Roseberry and long snapper Connor Johnson. Addison also wasn’t in pads due to his injury earlier in the spring.