As if on cue to help Oregon fans recover from losing in the NCAA tournament's Sweet 16 round, it's time for some football! The Ducks' coaches and players gathered for the first time officially on Tuesday to launch spring practice.
While the public was not allowed inside the Moshofsky Center to observe, players like De'Anthony Thomas and Marcus Mariota were made available to the media following the practice. Head coach Mark Helfrich and new offensive coordinator Scott Frost also talked following the workout.
In a video produced by Molly Blue of Oregon Live.com, Thomas had some chilling words for Oregon's opponents. He said he'd been working hard in the weight room during the offseason and "I feel stronger and faster."
DAT went on the say that there was a little different "vibe" today, which is understandable for the first post-Chip practice. Thomas is always upbeat and positive, and today was no different. When asked if his role would change this year, DAT replied: "No, I'm the momentum-builder and the game-changer."
Yes you are, young man, yes you are.
Changing gears, Colt Lyerla was not made available to the media today. Here's a tweet from Rob Moseley of the Register-Guard in response to a fan's question about Lyerla which explains why:
@wookiedu Not available until Saturday due to his class schedule.— Rob Moseley (@DuckFootball) April 2, 2013
It will be interesting to see if Lyerla does indeed talk on Saturday. Let him talk, get it over with, and let's move on to tight end things.
Projected starting quarterback Marcus Mariota, in a video on OregonLive.com, talked about how both Mark Helfrich and Chip Kelly are "player's coaches" and he doesn't see anything changing. Mariota credits both coaches as being "pivotal in my development."
According to Moseley, the players said it was mostly business as usual. Here's what safety Brian Jackson told Moseley:
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
"It was pretty much all the same. We had a good practice today. I know we did on defense; I don't really see how offense does. We're kind of concerned with ourselves. But it seemed like everybody was running around, and offense was clicking pretty well, too."
Helfrich said that today was "weird, at points." At one time in his post-practice interview he sounded like a clone of Kelly. When asked about what he was looking for during spring practice, he said the main thing he wants to see is improvement.
How many games will the Ducks win this year?
The takeaway from today is that the first Oregon football practice was almost identical to a Coach Kelly practice. The effort was good, there were no unpleasant surprises, everyone is happy to be back—in other words, just a standard, boring Ducks' football practice.
Which is music to your ears if you are a Ducks fan.
Kay Jennings is a member of the Football Writers Association of America. Follow her here.