Chip Kelly has given people plenty of watch since Oregon practices officially started on the eighth of August. But, on Tuesday, the Oregon head coach told the media that he would be closing down practices from Thursday all the way up until Oregon’s season-opening game against the #4 LSU Tigers on September 3 in Cowboys Stadium.
The news comes at an important time in Oregon’s practice sessions; the team is struggling with depth at tight end after Brandon Williams’ injuries forced him to end his career early and Curtis White went down with an additional injury. Colt Lyerla is expected to take over second string duties, but the battle for playing time is hardly over.
Meanwhile, Dior Mathis switched from defensive back to wide receiver, and former 5-star recruit Lache Seastrunk was granted his full release from the team in order to transfer to Baylor, after redshirting during his freshman year in Oregon’s run to the BCS National Championship game in the 2010 campaign. Also, with Cliff Harris suspended for at least the LSU game, the battle for playing time at corner is seriously heating up.
A lot of questions remain on both the offensive and defensive lines, and both fans and members of the media are quite interested in how many of these battles will play out. But because Kelly is closing down practices to anyone not in the Oregon football program, people will have to rely on Kelly’s to-the-point quotes following practices.
Kelly did say, however, on Tuesday that the team has a pretty firm indicator as to who the starters are. But, as has become the theme of the Ducks, playing time goes to as many as 40 players every single game, so the rest of practices will be dedicated to seeing who will break into the lineup, and, of course, will allow the Ducks to begin serious gameplanning to prepare for the Pac-12 – SEC showdown to start the year.
“We pretty much know who our 1s are, we’re just trying to figure out who everyone else is,” Kelly said to reporters after Tuesday’s practice. “I’m almost positive Darron (Thomas) will play against LSU and I’m pretty sure LaMichael (James) will play, too. We’re really trying to get more reps for those other guys. It’ll be more practice situations because we have those guys who are so young. We need to get them in a scripted scenario … it’s always good to practice with officials.”
Meanwhile, LSU is dealing with problems of its own. A bar fight late Thursday night, involving around 20 LSU football players, led to four victims being taken to the hospital for treatment. Four LSU players – including starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson – talked to police on Tuesday, but were not charged or arrested. The consensus around college football is that the Baton Rouge police investigation will take around two weeks, meaning that the players likely won’t miss the Oregon game on September 3.
Both the morning (9:00-10:30) and afternoon (1:30-3:30) Oregon practices will remain open on Wednesday before they get closed for the LSU preparations.
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Max also covers the Portland Trail Blazers and Pacific University Boxers for joltleft.com. In addition, he covers all sports in Oregon for OregonSportsNews.com.