FootballSports

A sense of urgency



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There’s never any rest for the football team. From the first week in August until January there’s practice and games. Then there’s three weeks of spring practices, followed by the start of
summer workouts.
That’s where we now find the team: in the midst of grueling summer conditioning in preparation for the start of fall camp on Aug. 7. The team is out at Papé Field four or five days a week in the heat, doing seven-on-seven drills and running to pick up where it left off last winter after beating the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the Holiday Bowl.
“This is an opportunity to get some work in and get better,” tight end Ed Dickson said. “This is my last go around and I want to make this season my best. I’ve been getting my feet better and getting stronger. I’m up to 250 (pounds), so I’m working on maintaining my speed with the extra 10 pounds.”
And it’s all to get ready for Boise State on the blue turf on Sept. 3.
“It’s the premise of our summer workouts,” linebacker Spencer Paysinger said. “That’s why we’re out here doing drills in 90-degree weather, because Boise State is doing it and we need to
work harder.”
The team says it is playing with a sense of urgency, in part because of the new coach, a certain offensive guru from New Hampshire named Chip Kelly.
“Things are a little bit quicker,” Paysinger said. “If you mess up you knew he was coming for you. He’s kicked guys off the field for a few plays. Sometimes Mike (Bellotti) would just try and talk to you instead … He’s making us more accountable for our own actions. The penalties are harsher.”
One of those penalties is the “Friday Night List.” It’s a list a player is added to for infractions ranging from tardiness to not turning in homework assignments. Basically, any members of “The List” meet with a few coaches at Autzen Stadium at 8 p.m. Friday night and are run ragged.
“Everyone walks on pins and needles, hoping they’re not on the list,” Paysinger said. “But it’s all for the good of the team.”
It’s a necessary disciplinary measure, but with the end of July approaching and the start of fall practice just 2 1/2 weeks away, there’s a more grueling challenge ahead of the team.
“Everybody is talking about it,” Paysinger said. “Some good, some bad. But everyone is happy to get back into pads. It’s a sense of excitement.”
One person who will be especially excited to get back into pads will be quarterback Nate Costa. He hasn’t been able to play in two years because of two knee injuries, with the most recent happening last fall, just before the start of the
regular season. 
“I’ve been working on everything,” Costa said after a workout session with head strength and conditioning coach Jim Radcliffe. “I’ve been working on my knee and balance; trying to get my left knee in coordination with the rest of my body to help it out and ease the process.” 
Costa says his surgically repaired knee is good to go,
pending one final physical test.
“Right now I (have confidence in it),” he said. “But you never know. I had confidence in it last year, too. You never really know until you have that first real test, that first person you have to cut off of, and that’s when I’ll be able to tell.”
Costa’s knee isn’t the only question the Ducks have this year. A relatively new coaching staff, young receivers and an inexperienced defensive line all have people wondering if this team will win 10 games again this year.
Paysinger says the team is more than ready, and should take a cue from the defense
this season.
“I think our defense this year is going to be the best it has been in five or six years,” Paysinger said. “We have big linebackers that can run. In the secondary, Walter Thurmond III is playing the best football I’ve ever seen him play and T.J. Ward is coming with the hard hits like always. And on the D-line, everyone thinks it will be a question but I don’t think so. We have guys who can step in right away as freshmen.”
However, all of the questions won’t be answered until the season finally kicks off on that Thursday night in early
September in Boise, Idaho. 
“We have everything to prove,” Costa said. “We have a new coaching staff and new players coming in. It’s all a proving ground and we won’t know until the first game. We have to play with a chip on our shoulder and prove ourselves to everyone in the nation.”
But it’s something the team is welcoming, especially because players want to show that the Broncos’ 37-32 win in Eugene last year was a fluke.
“I’m gritting my teeth everyday getting ready to play them,” Dickson said. “We’ve made it into a little rivalry. They beat us here last year in our house and no one beats us here, so it’s going to be good to get some revenge. But we know they’ll be ready because they have one of the best home records in
the NCAA.”
Costa is excited too, especially because he will have a chance to actually play in the game.
“Boise State recruited me pretty heavily in high school and I liked head coach Chris Petersen,” he said. “But they came over here and they really kicked our ass. And in a way they kind of disrespected us while kicking our ass, which kind of angered me because I wasn’t able to help out. They’ve been on my mind for awhile. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
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