Clark: Player stand-outs and disappointments from Oregon football’s spring game

A few days have passed since the Oregon football team capped its spring season with an exciting scrimmage inside Autzen Stadium. Yet, as a three-month dry spell must pass before the start of summer camp, the sport will remain at the forefront of Duck fans’ thoughts.

Saturday’s contest was the culmination of a month’s worth of work inside the Moshofsky Center,@@[email protected]@ as well as the first opportunity to get a look at some of the new faces on campus. Obviously, the quarterback competition between Bryan Bennett and Marcus Mariota gained a full head of steam heading into the summer, which benefits both young signal callers and the team as a whole.@@[email protected]@

Having watched the game’s replay a handful of times and studied the final stat book more than anything else I’ve read this term, I put together a short list of who impressed and who has considerable work to do in the upcoming offseason. Granted, a handful of key cogs in Oregon’s recent success sat out on Saturday, but here’s a look at those few standouts who did play.


Tyson Coleman (OLB)@@[email protected]@
Coleman’s first year on campus felt shaky at best, but a great Saturday showing seems to have improved his stock. Last spring, the 6-foot-1, 217-pound Lake Oswego native was arrested for an open container of alcohol and attempted to run from police, and he also did not travel with the team to the Rose Bowl in January due to undisclosed disciplinary issues. However, his 38-yard interception return for a touchdown during the spring game showed a glimpse of what the redshirt freshman will bring to the outside linebacker position. Coleman figures to spend the upcoming 2012-13 season as Boseko Lokombo’s@@[email protected]@ backup — though he’ll certainly see plenty of time on special teams as well.

Blake Stanton (WR)@@[email protected]@
Judging strictly from Saturday’s performance, it seems Oregon will be playing wide-receiver-by-committee again next season. That comes as no surprise given the overall youth of the group. Stanton caught five passes for 62 yards on Saturday — both game highs for the position — in the game-like atmosphere. In the few practices I saw last summer, he was always someone who caught my eye. Though somewhat undersized, his hands are as consistent as they come, and his routes are crisp. If Stanton can string together a strong summer camp, there’s potential to become a third or fourth receiver in the rotation behind mainstays Josh Huff, Rahsaan Vaughn and De’Anthony Thomas.@@[email protected]@

Needs some work:

Arik Armstead (DL)
I hate to put a kid on this list who should still be sitting in a high school classroom. Yet, like most people, I watched Armstead pretty intently throughout the spring game. There’s simply no questioning, with his size and athletic ability, a long and productive Oregon career isn’t far from his grasp already. And in reality, he’s almost guaranteed to see the field as a true freshman next fall. But part of me expected to see Armstead make a few more plays in the backfield while being a bit more explosive off the ball. I saw a lot of lateral movement along the line but not much push north and south. These small critiques will work themselves out in time, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a more complete and evolved player come September.

Alejandro Maldonado (PK)
OK, we’re getting a little nitpicky here, but the position is as important as any other. Entering his junior season, Maldonado probably carries a bigger chip on his shoulder than any other player on the Oregon roster. You know what I’m referring to. But in his four punts on Saturday (granted, he wasn’t able to punt all of last season due to a leg injury), he resembled the true freshman who was pressed into action two years ago. He averaged just 38 yards per kick on four punts (covering 152 total yards), while his senior counterpart, Jackson Rice, averaged 52 yards per punt — covering 156 yards in just three kicks. I expect Maldonado to serve as Rice and Rob Beard’s backup again in 2012 — but even filling that order will take some more work from the junior.

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