Spring college football games aren’t played with the same intensity, game-planning or quality as the Fall regular season. Players with even minor knocks are frequently held out, the 1s, 2s, 3s and 4s are all mixed up together, the quarterbacks are “no touchy” and there’s more of an emphasis on running as many plays as possible as opposed to clock management. So it was on Saturday as Oregon Green and Oregon Yellow faced off in Autzen Stadium in front of the second-largest Spring Game crowd (~45,000) in the Pac-12 this year. After trailing late into the 4th quarter, the Green team rallied behind quarterback Bo Nix for a 23 - 20 victory.
Fans got a long look at Nix, back for his final season, running the Green offense, as well as putative back-up Ty Thompson running the Yellow. Freshman Austin Novosad was the only other quarterback to appear. He took reps for both teams. None of the quarterbacks looked particularly sharp, although there were some ugly dropped balls, especially in the first half, which didn’t help anyone’s stats. There were also good plays on both sides, including a Thompson pass into some middle-of-the-field traffic that Tez Johnson turned into a 63-yard touchdown in the third quarter. Thompson would also find Kris Hutson for a touchdown as time ran out in the game.
For the game, Nix was 19-40 for 193 yards and a 32-yard TD pass to Troy Franklin. Thompson finished 16 - 34 for 274 yards after a slow start. Mase Funa came close to a pick-6 on Thompson’s first pass from scrimmage and batted down another ball on that first series. Thompson seemed to become more comfortable as the game went on.
Coaches seemed pleased particularly with the defensive lines for both teams. Early on - as Funa’s near interception indicates - both defenses were able to disrupt what the offenses were trying to do. They kept the game low-scoring with a scoreless first quarter and Green leading just 10 - 0 at the half as a result with Camden Lewis kicking one of his three field goals on the day. Lewis kicked a 44-yarder for Green at the end of the third quarter, matching his longest from 2022 to close the score to 14 - 13. Running yards generally were tough to come by - Freshman Dante Dowdell led all rushers with 32 yards on just 7 carries.
In the third quarter, Thompson would rally the Yellow team and take a 14 - 10 lead. His deep pass to Kris Hutson set up the go-ahead touchdown.
Nix would then rally Green late in the fourth quarter with two scoring drives - including a field goal and a QB sneak with just a minute left for what would ultimately be the winning touchdown - to take a 23 - 14 lead before Thompson’s late touchdown pass closed the score to the 23 - 20 final.
Notable - Although there were some lineup swaps between the announced rosters for the two teams, there were no real personnel “mysteries” during Saturday’s game. Every player expected to be in the stadium was there. Eleven players were spotted on the sidelines who were known to be injured or who otherwise did not play.
The game attracted solid attendance from Duck alums. Marcus Mariota and Jevon Holland served as Honorary Coaches and called plays for the teams during the third quarter.