More Than Preparation

Chip Kelly seems a little touchy. Why wouldn't he be? Last Friday his team was the No. 3 ranked team in the country. On Tuesday, Kelly held his weekly media conference, but perhaps the reason he is so touchy with reporters is that his team suffered a 40-27 loss on Saturday to the then No. 4 LSU Tigers (now ranked No. 2).

While mistakes and turnovers were the obvious cause for his consternation, he and his team have a chance to get back in a good mood Saturday against visiting Nevada.

"It's not all about our preparation," Kelly responded to the question about how the team's practices are going so far this week considering the problem last week. "It is a unique situation here. When we lose a football game everyone wants to know what's wrong with us and never really gives credit to the other football team we played. I give a lot of credit to what LSU did, how good their defensive line was (and) how well their secondary covered our guys has a lot to do with whether we will be successful or not successful."

Come this Saturday the Ducks (0-1) and ranked 13th in the country get a chance to get some of the kinks worked out on a team that has yet so take the field this season. Nevada is coming off its best season ever last year as it finished 13-1 record including wins over Boise State and California. Head Coach Chris Ault is one of three active coaches (Joe Paterno, Penn State and John Gagliardi, St. John's) who has been elected to the College Hall of Fame. Ault is best known as the innovator of the Pistol Offense and according to Kelly knows the offense "inside and out."

While Oregon played two teams last season, UCLA and Portland State that use the Pistol Offense, Kelly doesn't believe those games will be of much help to him in preparation for Nevada. The Duck headman describes the Wolfpack as a "tough, physical offensive football team; real strong up front," and "very active on the defensive side of the ball."

Kelly believes the Nevada's middle linebacker James Michael-Johnson is one of the best linebackers the Ducks will face this year. Offensively, a former Duck commitment, Rishard Matthews, is the leading receiver and a very dangerous return specialist.

The last time Oregon faced Nevada was in 2003 at Autzen Stadium with the Ducks winning 31-23. Overall Oregon is 5-1 against Nevada and have won five straight since 1996.

Nevada is part of the Western Athletic conference (WAC) and Oregon is 17-3 in its past 20 meetings against teams from the WAC with the only losses coming against Hawaii (away in 1994) and Boise State (home in 2008, away in ‘09).

A has been the case in most weekly media conferences, Kelly was hesitant to reveal much about what his team was going to do against Nevada. The game has a 12:30 p.m. kickoff time in Autzen Stadium and will be carried live on FX.

One thing Kelly obviously would like to see is less turnovers, penalties and mistakes like the ones that were painfully obvious last Saturday night in Dallas. Oregon was called for 12 penalties compared to five on LSU and lost three fumbles and quarterback Darron Thomas was picked off once in Cowboy Stadium. This week the Ducks are hoping to correct those mistakes on offense but surprisingly Kelly thought one of the brighter spots in the LSU game was the play of the Duck defense.

"I thought the one positive that came out of Saturday was how well our defense played," Kelly said. "Hopefully they can build upon that."

Despite playing deep in its own territory the Duck defense managed to hold LSU's offense to fewer yards that the Duck offense mustered. Of course when a turnover puts the ball inside the 25-yard line, scoring touchdowns is less of a trick than making a team drive the distance of the field.

Some might wonder if the Duck coaching staff would consider looking at some of the players left behind in Eugene last weekend but according to Kelly what is listed on the 2-deep roster is probably who will figure in playing time on the field. That's not to say that only the names listed on the 2-deep will be on the field. One name that could potentially change the dynamics of the Duck defense is middle linebacker Kiko Alonso, who sat out the first game on a suspension.

"Unless we get some injuries, we probably play 8-10 on the offensive line, rotate eight on the defensive line, if we get Kiko back he'll obviously figure into the mix," Kelly said of the playing depth." Right now we are going with the guys we got."

Kelly has not yet decided if Alonso will play on Saturday and the status of suspended corner back Cliff Harris apparently is also undecided.

Since Kelly has been the boss at Oregon, he has been steadfast in his assertion that preparation is the key to Oregon success. While the opening game with a team that is now in the driver's seat to a BCS Championship berth, was a hurdle, some followers of Oregon football feel that the talent level between the Ducks and the Wolfpack is too great for Nevada to overcome. Kelly won't say that of course and certainly the Wolfpack shocked California last season with a 52-31 win in Reno.

Still though, this is a game being played on the Ducks home field, a place Oregon has won 17 or 18 openers (the last loss was to Indiana, 30-24 in 2004). The Ducks have an 18-game win streak at Autzen Stadium and have scored at least 38 points in six consecutive home openers, averaging 48.0 points per contest.

Conventional wisdom dictates that a team makes its major improvement between the first and second game of the season. Kelly was quick to point out that preparation isn't the only factor in winning or losing and this week's game will be a challenge for the Ducks who last week were dreaming of returning to the BCS Championship game, and this week hoping to get by a very tough Nevada Wolfpack.

Notes:

After practice yesterday Kelly indicated that the game with Tennessee in the 2013 season had been cancelled. Today that is not the case.

"Yesterday I thought they weren't coming," Kelly said of Tennessee traveling to Oregon. "Today they are coming. Game on."

Kelly didn't elaborate on why he thought the game had been cancelled.


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