I've finally gotten around to transcribing Oregon coach Mike Bellotti's remarks from Pac-10 media day. Though delayed, the offer a pretty good shapshot of the team that the Huskies will face at 7 p.m. Saturday in Autzen Stadium.
Bellotti on the season opener: "We're excited about opening the season with Washington – a conference game. I say that for a couple of reasons. For one thing it's a conference game, and it's had our young men's attention since it was announced. Two, it is on television, it gives us an opportunity to showcase the Pac-10. And three, we get three weeks to prepare for Jake Locker, who's probably one of the most difficult athletes in college football to defend.
"We jump right into the league race as does I think Stanford and Oregon State (on Thursday), so we'll get some ideas very early about where the power in the conference lies. But I think it's very competitive, I think it's a dogfight all the way across. I think you just have to protect your players and be healthy."
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Bellotti on his Ducks:
"Our team itself has a very positive attitude.
(In discussing his QB situation, Bellotti said Nate Costa started camp No. 1 on the depth chart. But Costa is now likely out with injury, so here are Bellotti's remarks on Saturday's probably stater Justin Roper) ... "Justin Roper did a tremendous job in our bowl game and probably his performance in practices leading up to that game and in the Civil War, gave our team the confidence, I believe, to win that football game.
"We have a pretty good supporting cast on offense. I think we have three returning starters on the offensive line led by Max Unger. Fenuki Tupou allowed us to move Max as an all-league player from left tackle to center, and then Mark Lewis could probably start at either guard or tackle for us. So, we have some flexibility there, and the game starts up front.
"Ed Dixon returns at tight end, we've very athletic. Jaison Williams will probably be our all-time leading receiver in the history of Oregon football this year, and he is working very very hard to lead that receiver corps.
"Defensively we talk about our secondary a lot … but we have three three-year starters in Patrick Chung, Jairus Byrd and Walter Thurmond. They are all great football players. They're tough, they're athletic and they're playmakers. The playmaker thing is the difference because we're not just going to try to contain people, I think we can try to attack people. (Jerome) Boyd and (John) Bacon return at linebacker and Nick Reed and Will Tukuafu return at ends. In places I think we have really positive experience and athleticism. We don't have a great deal of depth. The question mark is our defensive tackle position, where we lost two guys.
"But the kicking game is in great hands. Matt Evensen and Josh Syria probably give me more confidence than we've had going into the season in quite a while in our kicking game.
"(Tailback Jeremiah Johnson is healthy and) can carry the lion's share of the carries, but I see it much like last year with a one-two punch. … LeGarrett Blunt is 6-2 ½, almost 240 pounds … he's a power runner. He can break a lot of tackles, he can go north and south, but he also can make people miss. (Johnson) is arguably one of the best athletes on our football team. He could play anywhere, he has a tremendous stiff-arm, is a waterbug out there in terms of his movement skills. I could see them complementing each other, I can see them both playing at the same time, I see them protecting each other into the fourth quarter of every game – keeping each other hungry and pushing each other – and also into the second half of the season."
(We'll hear from Bellotti again Monday -- as well as Ty Willingham and several Huskies. I'll pop in around noon with updates from that.)