Bulldogs unsure of Oregon quarterback
By By Danny P. Smith /special to The Star
August 31, 2002
STARKVILLE The Oregon Ducks hope Jason Fife won't be as limited as Barney Fife.
The faithful deputy for sheriff Andy Taylor on the Andy Griffith Show only had one bullet available in his arsenal. The Ducks want junior Jason Fife to use his arm to fire several bullets toward the endzone this fall.
At least for now, Fife takes over for Joey Harrington behind the center this season. Harrington was last year's Heisman Trophy candidate who kept Oregon in the national championship hunt all year as Oregon went 11-1.
The Ducks, ranked 15th by The Associated Press and USA Today-ESPN polls, want to remain one of the elite teams in the nation.
The first test for Oregon will be against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at home Saturday. The season opener for both teams will be televised by FOX SportSouth and will begin at 5 p.m. CDT.
Mississippi State doesn't know much about the new quarterback of the Ducks, but the Bulldogs just want to take care of their business.
In backing up Harrington last season, Fife completed 6-of-9 pass attempts for 71 yards. That's not much information for the Bulldogs to go on.
Haggan would like for the Bulldogs to introduce themselves to Fife early and often.
The game will also feature two of the more talented running backs in the country. Mississippi State's Dontae Walker and Oregon's Onterrio Smith are returning seniors who have the capability of putting up big numbers in their finals seasons.
Smith had 1,058 yards rushing on 175 carries for the Ducks last season and Sherrill believes he can once again put the "o" in the Oregon offense. "He is a big back who can get the ball 15 to 30 times a game," Sherrill said.
Haggan is impressed that a running back can have such a productive season as Smith did as basically a backup to Maurice Morris last year.
Just as Smith and Morris alternated so did Walker and Dicenzo Miller with the Bulldogs. Walker has only started two games in his MSU career, but is already 12th on the school's all-time rushing list with 1,727 career yards.
With the departure of Miller, Walker is expected to carry the bulk of the load this season.