Mighty Oregon

Last weekend the University of Oregon football program hosted their annual Spring Game and seven former players were selected by NFL teams.  Draft info listed below:

Round    Overall Pick              Name                      Team        Position

2                 61             LaMichael James              49ers            RB

5                155               Josh Kaddu                  Dolphins          LB

6                178               Mark Asper                    Bills               G

7                240               David Paulson              Steelers           TE

Players not drafted but picked up included Cliff Harris (Philadelphia), Eddie Pleasant (Houston) and Lavasier Tuinei (Seattle).

Oregon fans in Eugene, with three non-perishable food items each, who took a break from the draft (or monitored it on their cell phones like me) made the trek to Autzen stadium; the place where it only rains touchdowns.  Fortunately that held true on a clear and sunny Saturday.  The event was a huge success because Oregon honored the US military, donated over 72,500 pounds of food to FOOD for Lane County and put on a show for a record spring game crowd of over 44,000.   According to Yahoo! Sports UO attracted more fans than the combined spring game attendance of USC, Cal, Stanford, Washington and Arizona.  Impressive.

The match up featured Mighty Oregon (the light team) led by Redshirt Freshman Marcus Mariota against the Fighting Ducks (dark team) led by Sophomore Bryan Bennett.  In his debut, Marcus definitely lived up to the hype coming out of Eugene (even with closed practices) and looked like he did in his high school highlight reel.  Mariota completed 18 of 26 passes for 202 yards and a touchdown, in addition to rushing for 99 yards and two scores compared to Bennett, who completed 19 of 32 passes for 209 yards and a TD.  The highlight of the game was when Mariota faked the option pitch and took it 82 yards to the house, untouched, while out running both the corner and the safety.

What was even more impressive than his outstanding play was his perceived calmness, maturity, command of the offense, humility and leadership.  After every series he was high fiving or shaking hands with his teammates on the sideline.  This is good news for Oregon fans after the surprise departure of QB Darron Thomas.  You can’t draw too many conclusions from just one spring game but from what I have seen so far I am confident the Oregon faithful will be in good hands.  In the end, Mariota led Mighty Oregon to a 41-14 victory.  I can once again wear number eight with pride.

For the last few years Chip has dedicated the game to the US Armed Forces.  To kick of the action two jets screamed by over the gathered crowd, at half time Chip was presented with an American flag and then a US coast guard helicopter made a pass over the stadium.  When the game was over the players met members of the military at mid-field where they handed over their jerseys as souvenirs and small tokens of their gratitude.  Check out the videos of the action below:

Game Highlights:

Jets Flyover:

Flag Presentation and Coast Guard Chopper Flyover:

Jersey Exchange:

Game Gloves
Note from Chip to the Troops
Message from Chip to the Troops

Of course while I was in Eugene I made time for Burrito Boy, Hodge Podge and Brails.  I can’t wait for the season opener on September first.  Go Ducks!

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