Roper shines in Oregon's spring game

EUGENE — With his main competition sidelined, Justin Roper made his bid to become Oregon's starting quarterback next season.

Roper passed for 82 yards, threw for one touchdown and ran for another in leading the White team past the Green team, 36-3, in the Ducks annual spring game on Saturday at Autzen Stadium.

On the White team's first play from scrimmage, Roper, a 6-foot-6, 205-pound redshirt sophomore, completed a 67-yard pass down the middle of the field to tight end Ed Dickson that set up Roper's eight-yard touchdown run.

He later threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Jaison Williams just before halftime that gave the Whites a 20-3 lead.

"I was pleased with the way he started," Oregon coach Mike Bellotti said. "That first series was obviously sort of a 'Wow.' He did a nice job. Still, I want to see greater consistency... he's a veteran quarterback now."

Roper saw action in four games last season when starter Dennis Dixon went down with a knee injury and threw for 342 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions.

He made his first start for Oregon in the Sun Bowl and threw for 187 yards and four touchdowns in the Ducks' 56-21 victory against South Florida.

Roper is expected to compete with redshirt sophomore Nate Costa for the job in the fall. Costa, one of seven presumptive starters to sit out the game, was limited to noncontact drills this spring as he continues to rehab from knee surgery he had in November.

"I think I at least proved I have the capability of leading the offense," Roper said. "But it'll be a fun battle. He's a good quarterback."

On the other side, Chris Harper saw plenty of action as the first-string quarterback for the Green team. The 6-2, 230 dual-threat freshman signed with Oregon in February and enrolled in time for spring practices. He rushed 14 times for 67 yards and completed 2-of-9 passes for 73 yards.

"With the ball in his hands, he's as dangerous a quarterback as we've had," Bellotti said.

"We've got to refine his throwing technique. But remember, he should be in high school right now."

Also making a strong showing was LeGarrette Blount, the nation's top-ranked junior college running back during this past recruiting season. The 6-2, 229-pounder carried five times for 68 yards. His first touch went for 32 yards. "Today was a whole bunch a fun, it was perfect," said Blount, who hopes to replace Jonathan Stewart, who was taken 13th overall in the NFL draft on Saturday.

"He's got power," Bellotti said of Blount. "He reminds me of (former Duck) Ruben Droughns in terms of power through the contact zone. I was really pleased because he's picking things up."

The Green team was held to 209 yards and one field goal, a 37-yarder by Daniel Padilla in the first quarter. Sophomore linebacker Casey Matthews led the White team with 10 tackles, including two sacks. Defensive tackle Ra'Shon Harris had an interception to set up the Whites' second touchdown of the first half.

Oregon opens at home Aug. 30 against Washington.

Share This Story