Oregon relying on fast tempo

2009-08-28T00:25:00Z Oregon relying on fast tempoBy Jesse Sowa, For the Gazette-Times Corvallis Gazette Times
August 28, 2009 12:25 am  • 

EUGENE - Oregon football practices move fast, with as many as 120 plays stuffed into a two-hour session.

It works well for the Ducks' spread offense, which tries to wear down its opponents with a quick pace.

In turn, the Oregon defense gets its repetitions at a faster rate as well.

"I think when we get into the game it's going to be beneficial because we're playing faster in practice than we're playing in the game," said senior defensive end Will Tukuafu.

"Things really slow down. You're able to catch your breath and understand what's going on out there.

"I think that's really going to be a plus for our defense."

The first test of that stamina comes on Sept. 3, when Oregon opens its season at Boise State.

Tukuafu is one of five returning defensive starters, but the only returner on the line, where the Ducks will have three players making their first major college starts.

Expected to fill those spots are junior Kenny Rowe at end, with senior Blake Ferras and junior Brandon Bair at tackles.

Tukuafu compares Rowe, at 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, to Nick Reed, an All-America end who has moved on to the NFL.

Both are undersized for the position but make up for it elsewhere.

"He's doing a great job. He's one of those guys, just like Nick Reed, who finds a way of stopping the run," Tukuafu said.

"He's an all-around kind of player. He plays a lot of different positions."

Sophomore end Terrell Turner, junior end Zac Clark and junior tackle Terrance Montgomery are also competing for starting spots and for playing time.

The young guys are really coming along," said Tukuafu, who had 171/2 tackles for loss last season. "Those guys are really going to help us a lot."

Oregon has solid experience at linebacker with juniors Casey Matthews and Spencer Paysinger, who started seven and 12 games, respectively, in 2008. Sophomore Eddie Pleasant was also in the regular rotation.

The Ducks lost two backfield starters - Jairus Byrd and Patrick Chung - to the NFL. But returning are senior cornerback Walter Thurmond, a 37-game starter for his career, and senior free safety T.J. Ward, who started all 13 games last season.

The defense had a good showing in Tuesday's final scrimmage of fall camp, coming away with three interceptions and numerous tackles for loss.

"I'm feeling good about the defense," Ward said. "Right now we're jelling real well. We're playing pretty good."

Oregon coach Chip Kelly praised the defense for its effort against the run.

"I thought the front seven pursued well," he said. "The gaps weren't as big as they normally are."

Replacing six starters with some inexperience has somewhat slowed preparation for the start of the season.

But Tukuafu is confident his team will be ready for the Broncos.

"I think we're getting there," he said. "What we always try to do is not be satisfied. We're happy with where we are and the progress we've made, but we still have things to work on."

Copyright 2015 Corvallis Gazette Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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