Ducks are doing their best not to get big heads after impressive win over USC
It's one day at a time for Oregon coach Chip Kelly
Seattle Times colleges reporter
Through eight games — OK, eight games minus one — Chip Kelly has shown himself to be a thinking man's football coach. He's willing to do things differently. Oregon practices in the morning, not the afternoon. It goes harder on some days when teams are going easier, and vice versa.
He pops his head into classrooms to check on player attendance. When that happens elsewhere, it's almost universally an underling playing campus cop.
So, this week, with Oregon at 5-0 in the Pac-10 and looking BCS-likely, the question: Can Kelly prove his program to be bulletproof against the human frailty that has brought down empires, kings, presidents, and oh yeah, football seasons — the belief that you're now the coolest thing around?
Kelly, coach of the Oregon team that just rocked USC's world, 47-20, barely acknowledges that Webster's includes the word "letdown."
"We don't talk about the league," Kelly maintained stoutly Tuesday. "We just care about our next game, and that's Stanford. Our motto is, and always will be: 'Win the day.' "
Close observers of the Ducks confirm that, indeed, they appeared to beat Tuesday. But it's unclear whether they dominated or prevailed in a cliffhanger.
We jest. But Kelly insists that staying consistent is a task-by-task, hour-by-hour proposition. It helps, he says, that Oregon practices at warp tempo.
"You've got to be pretty dialed in mentally," he said.
He also says the Ducks have performed as they've practiced, which has been at a high level, something that should also feed into a message of staying focused. But he acknowledges he addressed the issue of big heads with his team.
"Do you want to be defined because you had a big win over USC and you finished 7-5?" Kelly asked.
More perspective on the resounding victory over USC: Oregon's 31 first downs missed by one the Trojans' opponent record, last equaled in 1970. The Ducks had 25 plays from scrimmage of 10 yards or more. And the breadth of the ninth loss in Pete Carroll's USC career (27 points) almost totaled the sum of the other eight (29).
Carroll said Oregon's attack had his team thinking too much.
"That's what was prevalent," Carroll said. "In practice, we tried to do some things we thought we had ironed out, but when it got to game time, it just didn't hit like that.
"We have guys that are as fast as their guys. We're a little bit baffled as to why it didn't carry over."
For the second time this season, the team getting USC's conquerer the next week is Stanford, on the Cardinal home turf. Stanford handled Washington with relative ease, 34-14, on Sept. 26.
In order to simulate Oregon's accelerated, no-huddle tempo, the Cardinal is using multiple sets of flash cards for their various scout personnel to scan on the fly.
Meanwhile, it doesn't appear that LeGarrette Blount will be part of Stanford's concern. Kelly said the process for the return of the suspended back would begin with the coach making a recommendation to athletic director Mike Bellotti, which hadn't happened as of mid-day Tuesday, according to Kelly.
And what's more ...
• California coach Jeff Tedford makes $1.85 million annually. His offensive coordinator, Andy Ludwig, pulls down $248,000. For that investment, here's what Cal got Saturday in the final minute at Arizona State: A floater of a pass into the end zone — it fell incomplete — by back Shane Vereen out of the Wildcat formation at the ASU 5 preceding a winning field goal. Get a grip, fellas.
• Not that the middle and the end aren't problems, too, but Washington State has been outscored 121-3 in the first quarter.
• Last week, this space undershot by one the number of times WSU has been on TV — to somewhere — this year. But after Saturday's game at Arizona, the Cougars will have been on only twice in nine games on network TV, ESPN, Versus or Fox Sports Net, and those are the ones that produce revenue.
• Arizona State is the Pac-10's runaway leader in penalties with 74, and only Texas Tech has committed more on a per-game basis nationally. It's hardly shocking; last year, ASU was 112th in the fewest-flags category.
Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or firstname.lastname@example.org
About Bud Withers
Bud Withers gives his take on college sports, with the latest from the Huskies, Cougs, and the rest of the Pac-10.
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