Bellotti Speaks

Here’s Mike Belloitt’s press conference today with the L.A. media.

Oregon head coach Mike Bellotti

Opening statement

“I think we are playing alright. I think we are struggling a little bit with turnovers and it’s probably a result of the youth and inexperience at quarterback. We are making the turn in that regard and getting better each week. We have some solidarity with Jeremiah Masoli. I think he will be the starter…two weeks or three weeks in a row and hopefully finish the game. We are getting Justin Roper back in some capacity. He was ill yesterday, but we expect him to practice today. It should be a competitive situation and our two freshmen, Darron Thomas and Chris Harper, have both stepped up and done some good things. There is still quite a learning curve. Our defense has played well, got some takeaways and has been good against the run…obviously, we need to continue that. Special teams has been a strong point for us. We need to continue that because when you play a talented team like USC, you need to find ways to seek an advantage on special teams.”

On quarterbacks and interchangable qualities

“Obviously, there is an experience factor. Jeremiah Masoli led his junior college team last year to the national championship. He came here in the summer and did not compete in spring football. He basically started fall camp as the newest guy of the group. Darron Thomas came last winter, graduated early. Chris Harper graduated early, came last spring so they both went through spring ball. Although as guys who their classmates were in high school, they learned a little bit…not as much as probably we all could have hoped. Nate Costa and Justin Roper were our holdover guys from last year and really the guys we thought would battle. Nate was our number one guy before sustaining an injury in practice. It was a non-contact thing, trying to decelerate and reinjured a knee that he had surgically repaired last year. Roper started, got knocked out with a concussion on the second play of the first game and didn’t play the rest of the game. He came back and played well against Utah State and then sustained a knee injury, partial tear of his MCL against Purdue late in the game. So he is coming back now and had some opportunity to practice last week. He felt good, had no setbacks. He has a flu virus. The quarterback situation hasn’t changed. It’s Masoli, Thomas and Harper in that order. We are hoping to get Justin back and if he practices, he has a chance to play.”

On “two-headed monster” at tailback

“We are excited. We had that same thing last year with Jonathan Stewart and Jeremiah Johnson. Jeremiah went down about the sixth game of the season and did not play against SC last season and Jonathan carried the load. This year, LeGarrette Blount has taken the place of Jonathan. He is a bigger, stronger back at about 238 pounds. He is getting better every game in this offense. Jeremiah remains sort of the feature back. He is a stop, start, quick shift guy and a great receiver out of the backfield. They complement each other very well in being a slightly different preparation for the defense.”

On defense

“(Patrick) Chung and (Nick) Reed are two blue-collar kind of guys. They come to work every day. They practice hard, play hard, they never want to leave the field. Nick has tremendous energy. He’s not the biggest or fastest guy, but he led the conference in sacks last year and I think he is in the top three this year. He is like the Energizer bunny. He just runs and has tremendous amounts of energy. Patrick is the same thing. He plays everywhere, we would let him play on offense. We might give him a shot at that down the road. He returns kickoffs for us. Our entire secondary, Walter Thurmond is a kickoff returner…Jairus Byrd is a punt returner…Pat Chung is a kickoff returner so we are trying to get those guys touches because they are playmakers. Up front, the nice thing about Nick Reed is that we have Will Tukuafu on the other side and he has done a nice job. I think he is maybe number one in the conference in tackles for loss. They are up there and doing a great job. You can’t attack one side without the guy on the other side making plays. The nice positive thing has been the development of Spencer Paysinger. He is our leading tackler, playing our Will linebacker position and he came on as sort of a guy that we didn’t have an answer for at that position during the spring. He has done a nice job of taking over that position.”

On USC’s loss last week at Oregon State

“I learned that the thing we talk about every week is that the best team doesn’t always win, you have to play the best on that team. I think SC is a very talented team. Oregon State had a great game plan and executed that game plan well. They were very impressive. We are trying to find ways to take that game plan and implement it ourselves. I don’t know if that’s going to work…also, that on any given day anyone can beat anyone else.”

“I think USC is a very talented team. If you watch the first two games, they look like the number one team in the nation and someone that could go undefeated and not be pushed by anyone. I think they are still extremely talented and have so many weapons on offense, it’s hard to talk about. Defensively, they are gifted. Their secondary and linebackers run and play so well that it’s just one of those days for them. I think they play with pride and passion. They are very well-coached. It will be a whole new ballgame this week.”

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