The Oregon Ducks will be holding their annual spring game this coming Saturday, April 27, offering a chance for fans to catch a glimpse of the 2013 Tostito’s Fiesta Bowl Champions for the first time since they took down the Kansas State Wildcats.
And while the Ducks have been making headlines for their potential NCAA sanctions that may be leveled in the coming future, the spring game will provided a much needed distraction as well as an opportunity to see exactly what Mark Helfrich is going to do differently in his first year as head coach.
Though we aren’t anticipating him to put everything out on the table in terms of scheme and design, watching the way Helfrich works with his players and coaches will be one of the main things to watch next Saturday. But that isn’t the only thing to pay attention to.
Here’s what to look/watch for at Oregon’s 2013 spring football game.
How Involved Will De’Anthony Thomas Be?
There’s no doubting the fact that De’Anthony Thomas is a proven commodity for the Ducks. One of the most electric players in the nation, Thomas has lit up opposing defenses in his first two seasons at Oregon, becoming a player no defensive coach wants to scheme for.
Heading into this year’s spring game, it would not be too far of a stretch to say De’Anthony’s touches–if her receives any–will be limited. As in past years, many of the players who have already showcased their talents don’t really factor too much into spring contests.
That being said, with Thomas participating heavily in track and field this year while reportedly adding more muscle to his frame, it would be nice to see him flash his new physicality at least two or three times during the game.
Though this would be just a brief glimpse into his talents, it would also be nice to see how his development is coming along, especially with the likelihood that he will see an increased amount of touches in 2013.
Will it be a true spring game?
Oregon has been bitten by the injury bug as of late. In fact, as it stands today, the Ducks only have six scholarship players and four walk-ons in healthy shape along the offensive line.
Now while it is obviously possibly to have a full squad for a complete spring game, I don’t believe any college coach would try and roll the dice with just the right amount of offensive linemen on the roster.
And unfortunately for Oregon, they are suffering injuries at other positions, too. No matter what position group/unit you look at, the Ducks seem to have a significant injury. All of this is adding up to have a limited spring football game that may be toned back when comparing it to recent years.
Who’s the Backup QB?
At this time last year the Ducks were trying to figure out whether Marcus Mariota or Bryan Bennett would be their starting quarterback in 2012. And though it took them all the way through fall camp to select Mariota as the starter, the Hawaiian was as phenomenal as any quarterback in the nation in his first year at the helm. Now in his third year with the program, Mariota is the starter and has that position locked down.
However, once you get past Mariota on the depth chart, things once again become uncertain at quarterback for the Ducks.
Right now the Ducks have Jeff Lockie, a redshirt freshman who was a three-star recruit out of high school, listed as their backup. He remains in tight competition with Jake Rodrigues, a redshirt freshman who received four-stars from Rivals.com.
Both never having thrown a pass in a college game, some may liken the competition between the two redshirt freshmen to be on par with what conspired between Bennett and Mariota last season.
And though they will not garner the attention Mariota will receive, they will still play a huge role on the team this year while undoubtedly seeing time on the field should Mariota go down with an injury–something that Aaron Fentress says is an almost certainty.