Ducks' offense impressive in team's final full scrimmage

EUGENE — The final scrimmage of the preseason gave Oregon a good look at its offense, minus running back Jonathan Stewart.

The offense scored six touchdowns in a 60-play scrimmage last Friday. The big play was from running back Jeremiah Johnson, who took a handoff from quarterback Dennis Dixon and ran it 69 yards into the end zone.

Dixon made all four of his pass attempts for 27 yards, while backup Brady Leaf made five of six passes for 61 yards.

Stewart was held out of the scrimmage in preparation for the opener against Houston Saturday at Autzen Stadium. Also absent were rover Patrick Chung and cornerbacks Jarius Byrd and Walter Thurmond, all starters last season.

Houston practiced on Tuesday, but lightning forced the team indoors early. The Cougars opened fall camp on Aug. 1.

"We are very excited about the season. We are ready to get it going because we have been out there banging around for about 30 days, and we are ready to get out there and get after someone else for a while," coach Art Briles said.

The Cougars had yet to name a starting quarterback for Saturday's game. Sophomore Blake Joseph and redshirt freshman Case Keenum are competing for the job to replace Kevin Kolb.

"It's not a deal where we are holding a big secret or anything like that," Briles said. "It's a deal where we will go through this week and get through Saturday and see what transpires."


A BIT OF HISTORY: The Ducks and the Cougars first met 24 years ago in Eugene, pitting respected coaches Rich Brooks and Bill Yeoman. The Ducks won it 15-14.

In 2005, the Ducks played Houston in their season opener at Reliant Stadium on a Thursday night. Oregon won it, 38-24.

Across the street was the Houston Astrodome, where Hurricane Katrina refugees from the storm-ravaged Louisiana Superdome were being moved.

Then-Oregon linebacker Blair Phillips found out earlier in the day that his girlfriend and grandparents — all residents of Mississippi — were safe.

"This whole week going through practice, my body was there, but my mind was somewhere else," Phillips said at the time.


EXTRA POINTS: Oregon has won 20 of their last 23 openers. ... The Ducks are 25-1 in nonconference games at Autzen under head coach Mike Bellotti. ... Bellotti needs three victories to reach 100 victories in the Pac-10, joining just five other coaches who have accomplished the same in the conference. Although he has historically named captains for each game, Bellotti named season-long captains: Quarterback Dennis Dixon, center Max Unger, rover Patrick Chung and linebacker A.J. Tuitele. It's the first time since 1993 that Oregon has had season captains. ... Former Oregon QB Kellen Clemens is impressing the New York Jets with his command of the offense. Clemens, in his second year, will back up Chad Pennington. In the preseason, Clemens has gone 28-for-39 for 352 yards and four touchdowns. He has run for another score and thrown two interceptions.

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