The sights, sounds and smells from the Oregon spring game
On the Sewell family's last spring ride, a strong game from Oregon's receivers and a legendary block party.
EUGENE — The number of recognizable faces outside the Hatfield Dowlin-Complex after Oregon’s Saturday spring game was nearly overwhelming.
Hey, there’s Dennis Dixon.
Hey, there’s Kenjon Barner and LaMichael James.
Hey, there’s De’Anthony Thomas weaving between formers players and parents and alumni with plates of food.
The big Oregon plan of turning Saturday into a welcoming embrace of the program’s past, while trying to convince a bunch of recruits about the future, felt like a big organic success. It’s not as if in past years Oregon teams were upset about the spring game, but the number of wide smiles I saw inside and outside the building Saturday afternoon was notable.
The one smile I stopped and talked with for a minute was worn by Gabriel Sewell Sr. He’s been to a handful of these spring games in Eugene to watch his sons Penei and current linebacker Noah. He’s been to even more when you take into account his two other sons’ — Nephi and Gabriel Jr. — careers at Nevada and Utah.
A decade ago, Sewell moved his family from America Samoa to Utah. He wanted to give his sons a better opportunity to pursue their football dreams.
Gabe Jr. finished his career at Nevada as a team captain.
Nephi finished his career at Utah playing in the Rose Bowl.
Penei was a first-round pick by the Detroit Lions after an All-American career at Oregon.
And Noah is entering his third year in the Pac-12 as one of college football’s best linebackers.
The third-year sophomore had two tackles in the spring game, and the only time I really remember seeing him was afterwards when, shoeless, he ran through the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex courtyard while still in full uniform.
“Where are your shoes?” a child asked.
“I’ve been robbed!” Sewell jokingly yelled as he disappeared into the locker room.
Everyone was having fun, including his dad — even if Gabriel Sr. felt the day was a little bittersweet.
“It might be our last one of these,” he said.
Dont’e Thornton is going to be a monster . I haven’t been around an Oregon receiver with his body type, and we’ve certainly seen how dynamic he can be when given space to turn on the jets.
He also had a great quote when asked about Seven McGee’s 70-yard reception to open the game.
“It was crazy because I thought it was coming to me,” Thornton said. “Then I looked and it was like, ‘Awww, shit.’ It went to Seven.”
Overall, Oregon should be pretty happy with where its receivers are coming out of the spring. This was a talented and unproven group coming into practice, and it really seems like Thornton, Troy Franklin, Kris Hutson and McGee are ready to take a step toward being relied upon.
It certainly looks like Chase Cota will fit that mold, too. The UCLA transfer had 6 catches for 100 yards during the Oregonian’s first time wearing a home uniform inside of Autzen.
“Chase Cota was going crazy today,” Thornton said. “I was like, ‘I want Chase Cota on my team.’”
It didn’t really occur to me until going down to the field in the fourth quarter that fans weren’t allowed at this game a year ago. The sound just hits different from that level of the stadium. You can hear every rumble and murmur and the growing anticipation with each play happening. Oregon projected around 40,000 for the game. I’d believe that just based on the line to get into the parking lot.
I didn’t mind. It was 70 degrees and the air was filled with barbecue smoke and stadium sounds.
“You could smell it out there today,” Lanning said.
Alright, a few videos:
Here’s Ty Thompson talking about his game and what he can improve on.
Here’s Bo Nix talking about his first Autzen experience.
And here’s Lanning’s entire press conference.
And to close, a look from KEZI on what seemed to be quite the circus around town as the city partied its way through the spring game.
Police responded around 11:00 a.m. to reports of a large party which started around 10 a.m., on 16th Avenue between Patterson and Hilyard.
Around 500 to 1,000 people were blocking the entire roadway, spreading into travel lanes and spreading onto neighboring properties, according to police.
Police said among those in attendance at the party were underaged drinkers, college-aged individuals and middle-aged parents.
And now the money quote:
Enjoy the rest of the weekend, all.
— Tyson Alger
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From one Oregon staffer: “It’s not a dictatorship anymore.”