Oregon’s final spring football practice is now in the books. The Ducks left Autzen Stadium on Wednesday morning in full pads and with a little extra bounce in their step as they wrapped up practice number 14 of 15 – the 15th being the spring game on Saturday April 28th.
As the Oregon players walked out of the tunnel and into the locker room you could tell from the smiles and hand shakes it’s finally time to play some football. “I think they’re excited about getting to play each other, in front of a great crowd, officials, the whole nine yards,” Kelly said after Wednesday’s final workout. Officially Saturday’s spring football game is considered a practice, however for media and fans, it’s a game and showcase of things to come when the Ducks reconvene this fall.
With Saturday’s weather forecast expected to be sunny and warm, Kelly was asked if a large crowd makes the game more exciting for the players. Since Kelly’s arrival into the head coaching position, the annual spring game attendence has been on the rise. Last year, there was an estimated crowd of 43,000 fans. This year, especially with the closed practices and mystery surrounding the QB situation, the athletic department is anticipating more. “Hopefully if we can get something that’s close to what we had the last two years, ( players ) get excited about it,” Kelly said.
This morning the official rosters for Saturday’s game hadn’t yet been released and the coaches and players remained tight lipped about the green and white or ( dark & light ) matchups. Late this afternoon those rosters were finally released by the football office which provided some pretty intriguing matchups.
As expected QB’s Bryan Bennett and Marcus Mariota are on opposite sides. As for the running backs, Kenjon Barner and Kenny Bassett are on the dark squad and De’Anthony Thomas and Ayele Forde are on the light squad. As for wide receivers, Keanon Lowe, Blake Stanton, BJ Kelly, Eric Dungy, and Dane Ebanez are on the dark team, while Daryle Hawkins, Will Murphy, Rahsaan Vaughn, Devon Blackmon, Josh Huff and Tacoi Sumler make up the white team.
Tight ends Evan Baylis and Colt Lyerla are on opposite teams. On the defensive side of the ball, there’s certainly a lot of depth on the D’Line. Freshman Arik Armstead along with Ricky Heimuli and Taylor Hart will play together on the dark team, while Isaac Remington, Wade Keliikipi and Jared Ebert will play on the white team. Linebacker’s Kiko Alonso and Michael Clay will play opposite each other, as will Dion Jordan and Boseko Lokombo at the outside backer position. As for defensive backs, Avery Patterson, Troy Hill, John Boyett and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu will play on the dark team and Terrence Mitchell, Brian Jackson, Dior Mathis and Erik Dargan will play on the light team.
For the coaches, they’ll focus most of their evaluations on Saturday on the newer and younger players who are fighting for spots in their respective position rotations. For the veterans, it’s likely they’ll play limited minutes with little to prove heading into fall camp.
Head coach Chip Kelly discussed Wednesday’s final practice and the spring game. Watch the entire post practice video interview by clicking the video box above.