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Posts Tagged ‘Chip Kelly’

Injuries Level the Field in the Pac-12 Race

U.S.C. had the quarterback, the wide receivers, the confidence and the hype. But if nothing else, Oregon had one crucial factor in its corner: depth. And not just normal, everyday depth but experienced depth, and even the Trojans’ fiercest backers had to admit that their team – due entirely to sanctions – was lacking in this key category. Knee injuries suffered by free safety John Boyett and offensive guard Carson York go a long way towards evening the score between the Ducks and Trojans, leveling the playing field in a Pac-12 dominated by two teams, U.S.C. and Oregon – and in this competition this close, every player counts.

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    A Few Talking Points for Confident Teams

    Nick Saban is tired of everyone loving his team. No, not just tired – Saban is upset, and you won’t like Nick Saban when he’s upset, as beat reporters from Toledo to East Lansing to Baton Rouge to Miami to Tuscaloosa can attest. Said Saban on Wednesday, upon being asked how much time his backups might see in Saturday’s game against Western Kentucky, “when you people start writing stuff about people that we’re playing that doesn’t give them the proper respect, that’s not fair. It’s not fair to them, to their players who work hard. It’s not fair to our players, who need to respect them.” And then he got upset.

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      No. 2: Oregon

      Whizz. Bang. Boom. I’d tell you to keep your eyes on Oregon, but the Ducks are already gone – long, long gone, past you at breakneck speed into the end zone, good for six, and back to the sidelines. The Ducks do everything fast: Chip Kelly talks fast, rat-a-tat-tat-tat through silly question after foolish query; the team’s station-to-station practice work is a blur; the school changes uniforms like Superman, stepping out in green-yellow-grey one Saturday before opting for green-white-winged-gold a week later; the offense goes up, comes back, hikes and hustles unlike any other unit in the history of college football. The entire program has long been different, especially to those outside the state, and under Kelly’s direction, Oregon has completely and utterly embraced its unique qualities – and what makes Oregon different is what makes it great. They’re moving fast, but let’s stop and catch our breath for just one quick statement: the Ducks are awesome. Whizz. Bang. Boom. And they’re off.

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        Without Carson, Ducks’ Depth Issues a Worry

        Ironically, Tra Carson would have been a better traditional running back than the sublime De’Anthony Thomas, though not a better all-around offensive weapon. For all his unparalleled athletic gifts, Thomas lacks the size to be a LaMichael James-like every down back — though James, it should be added, also had to answer the inevitable questions about his own size, or lack thereof. Note the past tense in the first sentence: As first reported a month ago by the Eugene Register-Guard, Carson is in fact transferring, though Oregon, in a university-issued statement, pointed out that Carson “had not completely dismissed the notion of a return to Oregon until shortly before the end of the winter term.”

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          NASCAR Talk, Starring Jerry Glanville

          When I do watch NASCAR, it’s for the same reason as I watch hockey: for the fights. Or the fiery, Michael Bay-approved crash and burns, much like the one unveiled by Juan Pablo Montoya during last night’s already rain-delayed Daytona 500. Crash? Uh, I think Montoya’s breaks went out. Burn? My goodness. Part of me expected a Transformer to burst out of the flames. In summation: NASCAR is better with fire, like most things. And since this needs to involve college football in some fashion — and since it’s most definitely the offseason — let’s add Dana Holgorsen and Jerry Glanville into the conversation.

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            Can Anyone Knock Oregon Off Its Perch?

            Oregon knew – or had a very strong suspicion – that LaMichael James was going to forego his final season of eligibility; Darron Thomas’ decision to follow James out the door came as a bit of a surprise. It was certainly surprising on a national level, as Thomas, while certainly one of the top quarterbacks in the Pac-12, could probably have used another season of college seasoning before taking his game onto the next level. Oregon’s offense shouldn’t have much trouble replacing James, as strange as that might sound, since the Ducks can turn to the three-headed monster of Kenjon Barner, De’Anthony Thomas and Tra Carson to help pick up the slack.

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              Near Gone, Kelly’s Heart Calls Him Back

              In the early hours of the morning, Chip Kelly changed his mind. When heads hit pillows on both coasts, Oregon’s Kelly, fresh off his third straight B.C.S. berth – and first win – was nearly signed, sealed and delivered to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Nearly, of course is key: as with recruiting, nothing is official until signatures meet dotted lines. For as far as Kelly’s discussions moved along with Tampa Bay, his cursive script never met the bottom of a contract; perhaps there’s hope after all, thought a portion of the Oregon fan base, as heads hit pillows. Then again, no Oregon fan could have been upset if Kelly followed the money, not to mention Phil Knight’s personal and professional mantra: Just Do It.

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                Alonso Works His Way to Rose Bowl Hero

                The Rose Bowl’s staid history has never seen an offensive explosion quite like the show put on by Oregon and Wisconsin: 83 combined points, a bowl record, 1,129 yards of total offense, one single yard shy of the bowl’s record, and little in the form of defense, minus three big moments from the Ducks over the game’s final 16 minutes. The Oregon defense? The offense did the heavy lifting, yes, but the defense stood tall when it counted. These defensive stands provided the tipping point, the moments that tip the balanced scales in the Ducks’ direction, and none stands taller than Kiko Alonso’s interception of a Russell Wilson pass in the third quarter.

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                  The Countdown

                  A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.