Bellotti expects Stewart to be more patient and Duck fans hope Colvin can repeat last week's performance
By: Kevin Hudson
Normally, when a team's top receiver goes down with a season-ending injury, that team's offensive production can be expected to decrease. For No. 11 Oregon, which stands poised to vault into conference and Bowl Championship Series contention with a win over No. 6 California Saturday, expectations remain unchanged despite losing senior Brian Paysinger to a season-ending knee injury last week. In his debut as Paysinger's replacement in Oregon's 55-31 win at Stanford, senior wide receiver Cameron Colvin led all receivers with a career high eight receptions for 136 yards and a touchdown. His 71-yard touchdown catch on the game's first play from scrimmage helped assure his teammates and coaches that there would be no drop-off in the passing game. "Cam scoring on the first play was great to kind of ease our worries about that a little bit," said senior right tackle Geoff Schwartz. "He had a great game, so we know we have guys that can step in." Oregon head coach Mike Bellotti was equally encouraged by the senior receiver's performance. "(Paysinger) is a great player and we're going to miss him," he said. "But obviously Cameron Colvin stepped up last week which is really awesome for him and awesome for us."
Last season's loss
Last season the Ducks went to Berkeley in much the same situation as they find themselves this season: Undefeated and looking to make a case for themselves in the conference race and the BCS bowl hunt. After defeating the Ducks soundly 45-24, Cal went on to a 10-win season. The Ducks lost five of their next eight games to slide to a 7-6 finish. Bellotti said in his weekly press conference that he doesn't envision the same kind of downward slide for this season's team in the event of a loss. "To me it was a combination of a lot of things that maybe started in the Cal game, but in reality to me this team has learned from that," he said. "They are aware of what occurred last year, why it occurred, and how it occurred, and I think regardless of the outcome of this game we're a good football team. We're going to compete every single game."
One factor in last season's one-sided contest was what Cal was able to do to shut down Oregon running back Jonathan Stewart, who was held to 25 yards on 18 rushing attempts. This season, Bellotti expects to see different results based on the increased maturity Stewart has shown in his running style. "He's a very, very talented guy that each day is getting better as a running back," said Bellotti. "He's utilizing not just his speed but some subtle change of pace, setting the blocks up, seeing the field much, much better. He's a much, much improved running back from last year's Cal game."
New transfer Jamere Holland started classes and came to his first Duck football practice this week. Holland comes to Oregon from Southern California, where the SuperPrep All-American redshirted the 2006 football season and competed for the Trojan track team. NCAA rules prohibit him from taking part in this season but he will be eligible for 2008 as a sophomore.