The Games Begin

Eugene – Chip Kelly admits he does not know Les Miles, in fact they've never met. Perhaps then that is why the Ducks are taking extra measures to ensure they do nothing to tip their hand as they prepare for Saturday's showdown with LSU in Cowboy Stadium in Arlington, Texas. On Tuesday, Kelly held his first weekly media conference to answer questions – as guarded as the answers might be.

The No. 3 ranked Ducks face the No. 4 ranked Tigers in the Cowboy Classic to kickoff the 2011 season. Oregon would like to even up the all-time series with LSU making 2-2 with a win. The game is the spotlight contest of the week and sets the Ducks up with a rematch with a very good SEC team and Kelly hopes that notching a win will ease the pain of the 22-19 loss to Auburn in the BCS Championship game last January in Phoenix.

While Kelly doesn't know Miles personally, he is obviously well acquainted with Tigers, so much so that when asked about who could potential big players on the LSU roster against Oregon, Kelly simply responded for reporters to, "take out your pencil" as there is a long list of names.

Certainly, the star-studded roster that LSU has should be imposing, but Oregon has faced such rosters before against USC, but this game of course is first contest of the season. All fall camp, the Ducks kept reporters away from the sidelines and all scrimmages were held out of the public eye. About the only thing those that make a living out of reporting on the Ducks could do, was observe practice from the soccer stands, some 100-yards away from the practice field. Even then, Kelly's practices are about repetition and this fall the Ducks did a lot of that.

"I think we found a way to play faster and be more efficient, when you practice faster you can get more reps; when get more reps you can get more players involved and that kind of what are goal is to make sure we are improving the entire team," said Kelly of the practice regime. "The amount of reps our third and fourth string guys got during camp is a lot higher than it's ever been because of how we practice."

Translated, that means the Ducks hurry-up style of play that revolutionized college football last season might even be faster this year. Since spring workouts, team members have been aware that the tempo might go up and by Kelly's account things did pick up. Kelly's staff knew that the team is very young and only has 10 scholarship seniors on the roster, plus there are around 40 redshirts or true freshmen.

The plan must have worked because all fall camp Kelly reiterated the new faces were picking up things very quickly and he was pleased. That could be coach-speak of course, but still, the tempo of how quickly the offense would be back to the line of scrimmage after running a play in the 11 x 11 competition was astounding.

One of the things reporters were seeking was the 2-deep depth chart which finally came out with the game week media released. There were no real surprises. Junior Will Murphy is backing up senior Justin Hoffman at one wide receiver position. Walk on sophomore Mana Greig is listed as Carson York's back up at left guard. Redshirt freshman Hroniss Grasu is the starting center with sophomore Karrington Armstrong as the backup. Josh Huff, who was sidelined with an injury for much of fall camp, is the other starting wide receiver and Eric Dungy is his replacement.

Dewitt Stuckey is slated to be the starter at middle linebacker, but when Kelly was pressed about the status of Kiko Alonso, the headman simply said no decision has been made in regard to Alonso, so it is possible the suspended linebacker could make the trip to Dallas. Superstar Cliff Harris isn't listed at all on the 2-deep, so it appears the decision regarding is status over a speeding ticket is final – he isn't playing against LSU. Redshirt freshman Terrance Mitchell will take Harris' place and Mitchell is backed up by Troy Hill, another redshirt.

Colt Lyerla is the backup tight end behind David Paulson, Tony Washington will spell Terrell Turner at defensive end. Taylor Hart is one defensive tackle alongside Ricky Heimuli with Wade Keliikipi and Isaac Remington as reserve defensive tackles. Former linebacker and now defensive end senior Brandon Hanna is a starting tight end but the 2-deep roster says "or" junior Dion Jordan. Blake Thompson is slated to be the second string middle linebacker behind Stuckey and Michael Clay, infamous for his fake punt run against Oregon State, starts at the weakside linebacker with redshirt Derrick Malone as his replacement.

Senior Josh Kaddu could be one of the leaders of the defense is the starting strongside linebacker with Boseko Lokombo ready to come in behind Kaddu. Steady senior John Boyett is the starting free safety while fellow senior Eddie Pleasant is the rover backed up by Avery Patterson. Anthony Gildon is a fifth-year senior and is also a starting corner back and newcomer Ifo Ekpre-Olomu likely will see playing time as a true freshman on Saturday.

Darron Weems, Ramsen Golpashin and Mark Asper round out the starting line with Ryan Clanton, Nick Cody and Everett Benyard as back ups.

Not really any surprise that Doak Walker Award winner LaMichael James is the starting running back with Kenjon Barner coming in off the bench and the starting signal caller is Darron Thomas with Bryan Bennett as the No. 2 guy.

Speaking of quarterbacks, Daryle Hawkins is no longer listed as a quarterback or running back, he's now strictly a wide receiver, playing behind Lavasier Tuinei.

Kelly was rather cryptic in talking about the rest of the travelling squad. Last year Oregon played at least 22 players on the defensive side every game and the Ducks can list 65 players on the travel roster. The names of those players won't be known until Saturday – game day. The day that Kelly and Miles finally meet in person and the day all the question about the Oregon Ducks and LSU Tigers will finally be answered.

Notes: Kelly shook his head no when asked if had been following LSU's off-field problems. Oregon of course had its share of non-football related incidents.

Other 2-deep roster positions:
Place kicker: Rob Beard and Alejandro Maldonado
Punter: Jackson Rice and Maldonado
Kick Return: Huff and Barner
Punt Return: Barner
Short Snapper: Jeff Palmer
Long Snapper: Drew Howell
Holder: Rice and Bennett

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