A. The Oregon Ducks, 3-0, ranked 5th nationally is a very good football team that started off fast and has been steadily improving. The Ducks operate a very up-tempo, no-huddle offense, which just keeps coming at the opposition. Oregon has been relentless on offense as Tennessee's Derek Dooley pointed out.
"What they do is they wear on you, they get you tired, you don't line up right or you don't have the right eye control or you miss tackles," observed Dooley of the Ducks after Oregon win at Neyland Stadium." They've got special enough players to make you pay when they do that."
Q. Which player has surprised you the most and which player has been the biggest disappointment?
A. There have been no disappointments. Not with a team that is averaging 63 points per contest and only allowing 4.3 ppg. There are several outstanding performers on offense and defense. Interestingly, even though the Ducks are holding opponents to only 4.3 points, no individual has had a game with more than eight total tackles.
Q: What game is the easier/more important to get the team up for, a big OOC game at Tennessee or the PAC10 opener on the road versus the Sun Devils?
A. When the players or coaches are asked, they constantly say the most important game of the season is the next one. Reporters have tried to get someone to open up and say something out of the company line, but they don't do it. That suggests the team is buying into Kelly's philosophy.
Q. The Quack Attack seemly has scored 50 points easily against ASU for the past few years. Do they view this as a serious road test?
A. This team doesn't talk about anything but focusing on the next game. Even during the 2009 season, when it was obvious that the Ducks were going to win the conference championship, Kelly never talked about rankings or bowl projections. The players followed his lead. Kelly won't talk about last year as indicator of what might happen this year.
Q. How much does Oregon think this ASU team is different than last year?
A. Kelly believes the new offense at ASU and the stellar defense a great challenge for the Ducks.
This is what he told the Portland Tribune this week.
"It's a no-huddle, but you can't really tell how fast (it is)," UO coach Chip Kelly says, of Arizona State. "It's more up-tempo than being a huddle team, but I don't know if it's a break-neck, no-huddle. It doesn't look like hurry-up, hurry-up.
"If we hadn't seen it before, it'd be a concern. They're looks our defense has seen for a long time."
Q. How much is Darren Thomas than Jeremiah Masoli in his skills and has he surprised you with his play?
A. If you ask a Duck fan about Jeremiah Masoli now, likely they'll respond, "Jeremiah who?"
Thomas has been a very pleasant surprise. He's managed the games very well and the only problem is that he hasn't really had that many snaps as the Ducks have put the first three opponents pretty handily. He's made a couple sophomore mistakes, but he's progressing rapidly. Many will be reminded or former Duck signal callers Akili Smith or Dennis Dixon when they see Thomas in action.
Q. What did Ohio State do to slow the down the Oregon offense and can the same approach work this year?
A. Two words, Terrelle Pryor. The Ducks lost momentum in the game on a fumble and Pryor then was outstanding in eluding Duck defenders. Will this happen again? Hard to say and the only real way of saying is if Oregon and Ohio State meet up again in a bowl game.
Q. The Oregon defense doesn't get as much run as the offense, but can you talk about some of the standouts at each position?
A. Defensive tackle Brandon Bair is having a super year as is the rest of the defensive line. ASU fans will want to keep an eye on DE Kenny Rowe, who has been a terror in the pass rush. State of Arizona fans may be interested in tracking Dion Jordan who has moved from the offense to the defense. Oregon coaches have privately said they believe Jordan has a future making big money in the NFL at defensive end. He's not a starter, but he'll see quality minutes.
Casey Matthews and Spencer Paysinger are senior linebackers with a load of experience. There are a swarm of young, fast and tough linebackers headed by junior Josh Kaddu, but watch for Michael Clay and Boseko Lokombo. They have been making big plays all season.
Corner back Cliff Harris is a game changer as evidenced by his three touchdowns so far and he isn't even starting. Talmadge Jackson III and Anthony Gildon are very steady and experienced veterans at the corners.
John Boyett is a hardnosed safety and some of the coaches call him the best football player on the defense.
The thing that has jumped out at me about the Duck defense is the speed and just how fast the defense reacts to the ball. Maybe the biggest improvement was when Oregon moved Eddie Pleasant from linebacker to safety. Defensive backs coach John Neal boldly suggested that Pleasant will be All-Pac-10 this year. So far, Pleasant has done everything he can to prove Neal right.
Q. Is national championship or bust the attitude that accurately describes this year's expectations in Eugene?
A. They talk about having a vision. They don't say National Champions or even repeat Conference Champions, but they clearly expect to win every game they play.