I hear that USC fans are pretty much in an uproar over the new practice policies. You know the policy where they are allowed to watch practices for the first three weeks of Fall camp and then as the season approaches the competition practices will be closed? Um, welcome to our world!
The fact is that I don't even particularly care that practices are closed. Do I wish there was some limited access to Duck Sports Authority? Of course I do! I think AJ does the best job of any media member really breaking down the practices and analyzing position battles, etc., without giving away any secrets about the playbook or game plan. But, alas, that is not to be.
A change has occurred, though, with the Oregon Athletic Department adding Rob Moseley to the mix as an internal beat writer. His addition is ironic to a point, but at least we are getting some tidbits out of practice. Nonetheless, the reports will be, for the most part, benign.
That will be especially true early on as the position battles have yet to really begin. Plenty of people look the part in shorts and helmets; let's wait until they get the pads on and have some full contact before we start anointing anyone as the next big thing!
Through the first two practices we have herd quite a bit about teh reliability of Erik Dungy who has some of the best hands on the team. This is a good sign. Dungy will likely enter the season at number two on the depth chart behind Josh Huff. If the early reports are true, that gives the Ducks two deep plus players in the wide receiver corps. In fact, with guys like Chance Allen and Dwayne Stanford (who may or may not be available due to injury), the Duck wide receivers might be the deepest most talented group in quite some time for the Ducks.
De'Anthony Thomas only adds to that. We know what Thomas provides. The questions will come with Byron Marshall, Thomas Tyner and Ayele Forde. Tyner is fast, there is no doubt about that. The roster lists him at 200 pounds, but he has indicated that he is closer to 220 pounds. If he and Marshall can combine to take a majority of the carries, expect Thomas to continue in his tazer "slash" role.
In fact, Mark Helfrich has already indicated that he is confident enough in the other running backs that Thomas will indeed play a similar role to previous seasons... only he will be more active in all facets of the game.
As I mentioned yesterday, I spent some talking to former Duck quarterback and current broadcaster Mike Jorgensen. While my main focus of the conversation was his thoughts on the new football operations center, we also had a great conversation about Chip Kelly, Mark Helfrich and football in general.
Yesterday I mentioned that he knew from the very first practice that the program was different with Kelly. He also talked, though, about Kelly's stubbornness and how he feels Helfrich will be more flexible in some ways which is a good thing.
The coaches saw what we saw at times last year, linebackers crashing the line of scrimmage while DB's were in coverage... leaving gaping holes down the middle of the field; but Chip was stubborn. Especially against Stanford. He expects Helfrich to take advantage of those types of situations in 2013 by going to Colt Lyerla more often and more throws across the middle.
If there is going to be more passing this year, it won't be because Helfrich is a former quarterback coach and wants to pass, it will be because the defense is giving Oregon those plays... and Helfrich will take whatever he can from opposing defenses; as will Scott Frost.
Tomorrow, I will talk a littel bit more about the early practice reports.