Oregon Football 2013 Spring Game: Updating Ducks' Position Battles Post Spring
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It can be tough to gauge a position battle when all you have to go off of is interviews and a poorly formatted spring game.
Nevertheless, the Oregon Ducks know more today about several key positions than they did a month ago, and as Mark Helfrich would probably say, that's the important thing.
The game itself had a lackluster feel with so many key players missing, but it also gave other guys a chance to shine.
Let's take a stab at where three important position battles stand now that spring practice has officially concluded. Keep in mind that the spring game was just one of 15 "practices," so while most of this piece is based off the final practice (spring game), a lot could have happened before today that may cause coaches to see things differently.
This isn't necessarily the most important battle on the team assuming Marcus Mariota stays healthy, but it's a competition between two players who, before today, haven't been able to showcase their talents in front of fans.
Neither Jake Rodrigues nor Jeff Lockie lit the world on fire in the first half, but both guys came out in the second half and looked more comfortable.
They also played true to their reputations. Rodrigues was seen as the more physical specimen with a rocket arm and elite mobility, while Lockie had the title of being a guy who managed the game well and made better decisions.
Rodrigues making a great case today to be Oregon's 2nd string quarterback. Superior arm strength and mobility give him a leg up on Lockie.— Chris Courtney (@Courtney_247) April 27, 2013
This tweet from Chris Courtney of 247sports sums things up pretty well.
But ultimately, the guy who gets the backup spot will be the one who makes fewer mistakes within the offense. Fans, however, will surely be clamoring to see more of Rodrigues (after Mariota obviously) after his display of bullet throws and open-field speed.
Of course, that's not to take away from Lockie, who made a number of plays as well, including one in which he escaped a Joe Walker blitz to find WR Jeff Bedbury wide open in the end zone.
My guess is that right now, the competition is dead even. However, if Rodrigues can continue to refine his skills, I expect him to ultimately take over the spot.
The linebacker battle was unfortunately one that didn't provide fans with many answers. Three potential starters in Tyson Coleman, Derrick Malone and Rodney Hardrick all sat out with various injuries.
Joe Walker received a fair amount of playing time but didn't necessarily stand out one way or another.
The only real revelation came in the form of sophomore Christian French, who's built to fill the need at the hybrid DE/LB position vacated by Dion Jordan. French tallied six tackles and a sack on the day, and could be a major player at a position of need.
He defines the kind of versatility Oregon has recruited in recent years and can play a number of positions on defense. He may not be a starter come fall but he'll definitely make the rotation at linebacker.
Aside from learning more about what French can do, we didn't glean much from the linebacker battle and the position remains somewhat of an issue heading into the summer.
Wide Receiver depth
The wide receiver position had three solid starters exiting the 2012 campaign: Josh Huff, Keanon Lowe and Daryle Hawkins. But the play of Bralon Addison in the spring game may switch things up.
Which player helped themselves the most on Saturday?
Lowe and Hawkins each sat out the spring game while Addison stole the show. He finished with eight grabs for 136 yards and a touchdown.
He looked a lot like De'Anthony Thomas, but with more skill at the receiver spot. He may not have the straight-line speed, but he looked a step faster than last season and caught everything within reach.
Whether his solid spring was enough to earn him a starting spot remains to be seen, but I'd be willing to be that Addison will take over the slot position at some point during the 2013 season. He's that good.
After Addison, Eric Dungy had an excellent day as well for someone who seemed to disappear on the depth chart during the latter stages of this past season. I'll look for him to be one of the first few guys subbing in as part of the rotation.
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