Oregon spring game review

In front of a Pac-10 spring record crowd of 43,468 at Autzen Stadium, Darron Thomas led the Green team to a 16-0 victory over the White squad in Oregon’s spring game on Saturday afternoon.

The rising junior quarterback completed 15 of 21 passes for 129 yards and one interception while 2010 Heisman Trophy finalist and NCAA leading rusher LaMichael James recorded 78 rushing yards and a touchdown on just three carries — including a 67-yard touchdown scamper on his last carry of the contest.

LaMichael JamesICONLaMichael James made an impact on just three carries in Oregon's spring game.

The high-powered, up-tempo offense remains a work in progress, however, as the Ducks try to replace three starters on the offensive line as well as receivers Jeff Maehl and D.J. Davis. Complicating matters in the spring game was the absence of Josh Huff, who has been sidelined with an injured knee. Huff provides the Ducks with much-needed speed in the vertical passing game, so most of the completions on Saturday were made underneath the coverage.

The longest completion of the day went to tight end David Paulson, who hauled in a 25-yarder from backup signal caller Bryan Bennett, who was 10 of 18 through the air. Paulson finished with four catches for 42 yards.

While the offense looked uncharacteristically bland, the offensive line will have time to develop some chemistry and cohesion over the summer and in fall camp. At receiver, Huff eventually will return to good health and Lavasier Tuinei, who led all receivers with six catches and 46 yards, will be leaned upon to have a standout 2011 season. In addition, early enrollee Colt Lyerla is primed to make an immediate impact. He finished the spring game with three catches for 37 yards. The team will also get the services of freshmen Devon Blackmon, Tacoi Sumler and B.J. Kelley, as well as junior-college transfer Rahsaan Vaughn, this fall.

Defensively, Nick Aliotti's unit gave a strong overall performance, as the only touchdown came on James’ long burst. While the Ducks must replace five starters from last year's fundamentally sound front seven, there is a chance that this underrated unit remains steady because of its depth.

With Terrell Turner missing spring with a leg injury, ends Dion Jordan and Brandon Hanna had strong practice seasons, while tackles Ricky Heimuli, Taylor Hart and Wade Keliikipi also played well. Jordan spent a lot of time in the backfield making his presence felt on Saturday while Keliikipi recorded six tackles — including two for a loss — and a sack. Casey Matthews will certainly be missed at middle linebacker, but Kiko Alonso is a physical player who may be ready to make an instant impact. He’ll be surrounded by Michael Clay, Josh Kaddu and Boseko Lokomobo on the outside.

One other quick note: Kicker Rob Beard converted on all three of his field goal attempts — from 42, 39 and 21 yards.

Oregon opens the 2011 season against LSU on Sept. 3 at Cowboys Stadium in perhaps the most anticipated non-conference game of the year.

Check out video from Chip Kelly's postgame presser, courtesy of The Oregonian.

Email dave.miller@nationalfootballpost.com or follow me on Twitter at Miller_Dave

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