|Dennis Dixon can throw it, run it or hand it off for the Ducks|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 06 September 2007 10:31|
Oh, and he can also play baseball, though that's on hold for a while.
For now, Dixon needs to put everything together for the Ducks. If Oregon's season-opening win is any indication, he's pointed in the right direction.
The versatile senior rushed for 141 yards and a touchdown and passed for 134 yards and two more scores in the 48-27 victory over Houston. Next up for the Ducks is a trip to the Big House, where what is sure to be a surly Michigan team awaits.
Dixon, who had an 80-yard TD run and more yards rushing in a game than any Oregon quarterback in 12 years last week, will need to again be at his elusive best for Oregon to make the Wolverines 0-2.
``He's all over the place. There's a lot of things about Dennis that you have to be careful with,'' Oregon receiver Brian Paysinger said. ``When he starts scrambling, he's not a guy to run a couple of yards and slide, he'll juke and spin. He's such a big threat.''
He needs to be a more consistent threat than he was last year.
He started the first 11 games, throwing for 2,143 yards and 12 touchdowns. But he also had 14 interceptions. He ran for 442 yards and two TDs. Backup Brady Leaf, who threw for 917 yards and six scores, started the last two games of the season when Dixon struggled and Oregon finished a disappointing 7-6.
Then Dixon left the team over the summer to play baseball in the Atlanta Braves organization, leaving some to question his commitment to the team. Word had it that coach Mike Bellotti was miffed about Dixon's decision, and Bellotti admitted at the Pac-10 media day he thought it was an ``inopportune'' time for Dixon to leave.
An outfielder at San Leandro High School, Dixon was selected in the fifth round by the Braves in June.
Dixon hit .188 with six RBIs and five stolen bases in 24 games in the Gulf Coast League. In three games for Class-A Danville of the Appalachian League, Dixon was hitless in nine at-bats.
But Dixon seemed to return from his foray into pro baseball with renewed enthusiasm. He also hit it off with new offensive coordinator Chip Kelly, who took the job when Gary Crowton left for LSU.
``He came back and was poised in practices and knew the playbook and did everything coaches asked him to,'' Paysinger said.
Kelly said Dixon did a fine job in the opener.
``He's a physically gifted player. He can hurt you with his feet and his arm. He made really, really good decisions, that's what impressed me the most,'' Kelly said. ``Mechanically there's a couple things we have to work on, but he was going to the right guys at the right times. I was really impressed with his decision-making process.''
The Wolverines are trying to rebound from a stunning 34-32 loss to Appalachian State.
``I expect them to come out fundamentally sound, minus the first-game jitters and with a lot of new wrinkles on the defensive side. I expect them to be phenomenal,'' Dixon said.
In addition to Paysinger, his target for both his touchdown passes in the victory over Houston, Dixon has the luxury of two talented running backs in Jonathan Stewart and Jeremiah Johnson.
That has captured the attention of Michigan coach Lloyd Carr.
``He's a great athlete and he's a guy that it starts, I think, with his mobility,'' Carr said. ``He has excellent vision. He has a knack for finding the open receiver. But when you look at what he did on Saturday against Houston in terms of the yards that he produced either throwing or running, he can do them both.''
Dixon says he's put baseball behind him for now. His focus is on the Ducks, and what ever happens next year is, well, next year.
``This is football and I'm here to do one job and win games in the process,'' he said. ``My team is behind me 100 percent and that team confidence goes a long way.''