Wednesday May 22, 2013
U of O Ducks Show Champion Spirit at 2012 Spring Football GameBonnie King Salem-News.com
Oregon returns to the field after a third-consecutive BCS Bowl appearance and a 45-38 Rose Bowl win.
(EUGENE, Ore.) - There is an excitement surrounding Autzen Stadium – it's something in the air. I am pretty sure you can feel this energy 24/7. For Oregon Duck fans, it is LOVE.
They love football, and most of all- Duck Football. For the majority of said fans, fall is a long way off.
“We need to enjoy college football once again, albeit for a single spring day at the end of April,” said the Duckcast before the game. Fans were excited to get an early glimpse of the University of Oregon’s 2012 football team just by attending this game, a “must go” traditional big event for thousands.
So many turned out in fact, that they broke a new record for attendance. 44,129 fans came to the game this year, over last year’s 43,468; the Spring Game was also the highest attended scrimmage in Pac-12 school history.
Festivities before the game began with a Fan Fest in the Moshofsky Center. Activities included a rock climbing wall, an inflatable obstacle course, and interactive displays by branches of the armed forces, the Oregon National Guard and the Coast Guard. The Duck Cheerleaders kept everybody smiling, regardless of where they happened to be, posing for photos and making the day for many anxious fans.
LET THE GAME BEGIN!The annual “intrasquad scrimmage” kicked off at 11 a.m., ending the Ducks’ fourth week of spring practice and Chip Kelly’s fourth year of spring drills as the school’s head coach.
The Spring Game consisted of two evenly-divided teams, the Fighting Ducks vs. Mighty Oregon, playing two 12-minute quarters, and a second half utilizing a running clock.
Redshirt freshman Marcus Mariota was a welcome sight as he may have come out the winner for the starting quarterback’s job. Sophomore Bryan Bennett is the more experienced of the two QBs vying for the position opened up when Darron Thomas went pro, skipping his senior year.
Mariota completed 18 of 26 passes for 202 yards and a touchdown, in addition to rushing for 99 yards and two scores, leading his team to a 41-14 victory.
Bennett completed 19 of 32 passes for 209 yards and a TD. He has “real” experience, having started a game last year when Thomas was injured.
“I thought Mariota did a really nice job,” commented Head Coach Chip Kelly. “A couple times they (Mariota, Bennett) both forced the ball a bit.”
“It is great for them to get on a big stage and practice in front of a big crowd. I am pleased with the quarterbacks, and that is not a position I am worried about. I am confident about both guys.”
This game was the first look at Mariota in a game-like situation for anyone outside the program. He was part of the practice squad last season, but this spring Oregon coach Chip Kelly closed practices to fans and the media making the annual game the only chance to see the team play outside of the regular season.
A lot can happen in a few months. Regarding the potential early leader in the quarterback position, Kelly said, “It is April 28th and we play next on September 1st.
"Both kids did things today they can learn from, both positively and negatively. They have a tremendous amount of upside, and it will be interesting how they will progress over the summer.”
The Ducks are Champions. To keep that title, they will have to work harder than ever and there are many decisions still to be made. The off season is going to be a very revealing time.
Head Coach Kelly said, “Overall it is about developing in depth. The offense has question marks at wide receiver. At every position we have our one and two, but who are the other guys? Wide receiver and tight end are specific questions.”
HELPING FRIENDS & NEIGHBORSThe Spring Game also provided the chance to help replenish the county’s local food bank, with three cans of food the only admission at the gate.
All non-perishable food items were forwarded to FOOD for Lane County, tallying up to an impressive 72,537 pounds of food and $1,192.59 donated to the local food bank. That breaks last year’s record.
Alicia Hines, food resource developer for FOOD for Lane County, estimated that the proceeds will enable the food bank to provide 60,248 meals for those in need. It also is reportedly a record for food donations to the local agency in a three-hour span.
There were also donations of general admission tickets to be distributed to low income and homeless members of the community who might not otherwise be able to attend a game. This was the eighth year the Ducks partnered with Food for Lane County to make their one free game really count.
GIVING RESPECT FOR OUR MILITARY SERVICESFans cheered and showed their appreciation for our nation’s armed forces, the Oregon National Guard and the Coast Guard throughout the event.
A joint service color guard and ceremonies to honor the men and women from the state and their families for the sacrifices of their time overseas, a halftime flag-folding ceremony and a pre-game F-15 flyover was a rumbling success.
Service men and women were asked to stand and be recognized during half time, receiving a lengthy ovation.
Going the final distance in recognizing the Armed Forces at the end of the game, each player literally gave them the shirt off their back. The players then hosted their military partners to some one-on-one time with a tour of the Trophy room and refreshments. It was a big win for everyone that attended the University of Oregon’s annual Spring football game.
The Ducks will open the 2012 regular season Sept. 1st, 2012 against Arkansas State in Autzen Stadium. Home turf.
2012 Spring Game Final score:
WATCH THE UO SPRING GAME VIDEO BELOW:
Video produced by Bonnie King
Salem-News.com Sports crew: Bonnie King, Michael Rogers, Austin King, CJ Lovell.
________________________________________Bonnie King has been with Salem-News.com since August '04, when she became Publisher. Bonnie has served in a number of positions in the broadcast industry; TV Production Manager at KVWB (Las Vegas WB) and Producer/Director for the TV series "Hot Wheels in Las Vegas", posts as TV Promotion Director for KYMA (NBC), and KFBT (Ind.), Asst. Marketing Director (SUPERSHOPPER MAGAZINE), Director/Co-Host (Coast Entertainment Show), Radio Promotion Director (KBCH/KCRF), and Newspapers In Education/Circulation Sales Manager (STATESMAN JOURNAL NEWSPAPER). Bonnie has a depth of understanding that reaches further than just behind the scenes, and that thoroughness is demonstrated in the perseverance to correctly present each story with the wit and wisdom necessary to compel and captivate viewers.
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