Oregon coaches have all their Ducks in a row
- Jason Vondersmith
- Portland Tribune - Sports
Ducks will rely on Parker's speed, skills, strength on offense
EUGENE Ñ Oregon receiver Samie Parker wants everybody to understand that he needs his touches. No wonder he backs up so many of his statements with, 'You know what I'm saying?'
His coaches will oblige. Offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig says Parker 'is set for a dominating season.'
It could be 70 catches and 1,000-something yards, if things go well.
'I'm ready to go,' the swift senior says. 'I was pretty much the go-to guy last year, so I don't think it's going to be that much of a difference. I have a little more responsibility this year.'
The Ducks will count on Parker, a two-year starter, to shoulder much of the offensive burden, especially while receivers Demetrius Williams and Kellen Taylor and four tailbacks ramp up to Pacific-10 Conference speed. The Ducks open Aug. 30 at Mississippi State.
Parker says the coaches plan to move him around and get him the ball every way possible Ñ short, long, on the reverse, maybe on punt returns. He won't just be the deep threat, although his 12 career touchdown catches have averaged 36.7 yards.
'I can't blame them for doing what they want to do,' he says. 'I have to go everywhere they want me. I can't say where I want to be, I have to go where the ball is.'
Parker had 49 catches for 724 yards and eight TDs last year. In 2001, he had 41 catches, 748 yards and four TDs.
He had a breakout track and field season last spring, too, culminating with his fifth-place finish (10.41 seconds) in the NCAA 100-meter final. He has an all-time best of 10.18. Unofficially, he ranks as the fastest college football player in the country.
'I'm a little more knowledgeable about the game,' the 5-11, 180-pound receiver says. 'I'm seeing more things visually, rather than just using athletic ability. It should open things up for me.'
So, who else will touch the ball?
Coach Mike Bellotti says he doesn't plan to name the starting quarterback until the week of the Mississippi State game. It'll either be senior Jason Fife or sophomore Kellen Clemens.
Fife has more experience, better running ability and a penchant for throwing the long ball. He needs repetitive accuracy, coaches say. Clemens has the more accurate arm and 'is more the pocket passer,' Parker says. Ludwig says Clemens needs to make quicker decisions.
Bellotti says both QBs could play this year, and he doesn't rule out using them in different offensive situations.
The receiving corps took a hit when Keith Allen tore his anterior cruciate ligament in camp.
Williams, a stringy 6-2 receiver, played in 11 games last year and had his best showing against Stanford, making three catches for 35 yards.
'So I know what it feels like to be in a game,' he says.
More of a possession receiver, Williams uses his height to snare passes.
The burly Taylor, a redshirt after transferring from junior college last year, has been described as an Onterrio Smith type Ñ physical with moves.
The Ducks want junior college transfer Marcus Maxwell, another tall receiver at 6-3, to get up to speed, and Bellotti says one true freshman probably will play from the threesome of Jordan Carey, Brian Paysinger and Garren Strong.
Tight end Tim Day has earned his reputation as a standout blocker, and he'll get the chance to catch the ball in Oregon's system this year. He has good hands, Clemens says.
Talent in the backfield
Running backs coach Gary Campbell expects to use all four of his tailbacks, although Terrence Whitehead and Chris Vincent seem to have the lead on Ryan Shaw and Kenny Washington.
Whitehead had 'separated himself' from the others headed into last weekend's scrimmage, Bellotti says.
Whitehead, who gained 132 yards versus Stanford last season, has shed some weight, dropping to about 198 pounds. Bellotti says Whitehead 'is a step or two quicker,' and Campbell likes his elusiveness.
Campbell 'is telling me to rely on my speed and not cut back all the time,' Whitehead says.
Everybody looks forward to seeing Vincent in action. He is big (6-1, 225 pounds) and elusive. He had offseason knee surgery but proclaims himself healed.
'He's going to be a factor,' Campbell says. 'He's getting better every practice, getting comfortable with the offense.'
The coaches like Shaw's north-south speed and power, and they envision using him on special plays. Campbell proclaims that he has three great backs and one good one (Washington).
'I've never had a backfield with as much talent and competition among four guys,' says Campbell, a coach at Oregon since 1983.
Notes: Former Jesuit High star Matt Floberg had a lot to show for his two rushing attempts in Saturday's scrimmage. He first rambled 28 yards on third-and-one, then scored on a 1-yard plunge. É Third-string QB Johnny Durocher threw both TD passes in the scrimmage and completed 7 of 11 for 89 yards. Fife and Clemens had similar stats. Taylor, in full pads for the first time, caught four balls for 59 yards. É Dante Rosario, the 6-4, 232-pound freshman fullback from Dayton High, has looked good and could see action this season on special teams.
Chambers Communications has signed a new, five-year agreement with ESPN Plus/Oregon Sports Network to carry UO coaches' shows, games, sports specials and other programming on Comcast Channel 14 in Portland and elsewhere around the state. Joe Giansante will anchor the football and basketball games. Analysts will be Anthony Newman in football, Rob Closs in men's basketball and Cathy Nelson in women's basketball.