Doing One's Job

Eugene – Chip Kelly held his weekly media conference as his team prepares to enter conference competition against Arizona in Tucson. With a 2-1 record in non-conference play the Ducks now get set to defend their conference title. In his third year at Oregon, Kelly has faced challenges both on and off the field and through it all he has steadfastly focused on his team.

Last week the Ducks demolished Missouri State, 56-7 on the same day the Oregon announced it had received a Notice of Inquiry from the NCAA to determine if any violations of NCAA have taken place. Most regard this notice as a step in an investigation into Oregon's recruiting practices, specifically hiring scouting services most notably one ran by Willie Lyles of Houston, Texas. Oregon has not publicly commented on its relationship with Lyles and now is bound by NCAA rules from answering any questions from the media over the situation.

The Ducks travel to Arizona this weekend to take on the Wildcats. Last year the Ducks won the third straight game over the Wildcats 48-29 in a rare Friday night game. Oregon is hoping to make Saturday night's game with Arizona win No. 14 in the last 17 games dating back to 1994. Oregon has won 12 consecutive conference games and in the three game winning streak against UA the Ducks averaged 49.0 points in those games. LaMichael James rushed for 204 yards and three touchdowns last week against MOSU on 12 carries. James has rushed for 243 yards against the Wildcats on 47 carries for a pair of touchdowns in the last two games.

Somewhat surprisingly, James was not named Pac-12 Offensive player of the Week for his output against MOSU. Kelly though is unconcerned about any honors outside of what his coaches bestow on the team. It is just part of the job for both the players and coaches to prepare and perform the game of football.

"I don't even know who the players of the week are in our conference," Kelly responded when asked about the conference Player of the Week honors. "Our awards and evaluations are based on our looking at the film and I can guarantee you and I don't know if it has ever happened if any offensive lineman has won Player of the Week in the Pac-10 or 12. I think those awards are league driven no matter where it is, and are based upon statistics. I know last year when we played USC at USC, Drew Davis didn't have a catch but he was our player of the week because of the performance he had and the great job he did for our team and was integral to our success. Sometimes they coincide but very rarely do they (coincide) to be honest with you."

Doing one's job is a trademark of Chip Kelly's team. Preparing and training hard, executing the plan based on that preparation; sticking with the plan, adjusting when necessary and even in the most adverse situations, remaining focused on the goal.

Recently, the Oregon Ducks met with an alumnus of the University. A man that was probably just a face in the crowd when he was a student, unknown to those that might have gathered at Hayward Field, the place games were played. He was a man that had done something very important in his life, yet for most his adult life he was just the guy next door. Someone who married his college sweetheart raised a family. Those normal sorts of things people do. It wasn't until 1987, when this man along many of his comrades-in-arms was introduced to Professor Stephen Ambrose at a reunion of Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 502 Parachute Infantry, 101st Airborne Division. That meeting would eventually tell the story of what so many had little or no knowledge of, what average Americans did in helping to rid the world from a diabolical tyrant and oppressor in World War II.

That man, Don Malarkey a native Oregonian was an enlisted man who had volunteered for the Airborne. After a rigorous training program, Malarkey and his comrades shipped off to England and during the early morning darkness of June 6, 1944 parachuted into France as part of the first phase of the invasion of Europe to liberate France and ultimately destroy the Nazi regime. In doing so, the 101st Airborne fought in France, Holland and endured misery in a frozen hell called Bastogne.

Bastogne, a place that the success of Hitler's last chance to repel the Allied Forces hinged and with the answer of "Nuts" from Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe and the determination of the soldiers huddled in frozen foxholes helped doom the dreams of a Thousand Year Reich.

Of the 11,000 soldiers that compromised the defense of Bastogne including the 101st, over 3,000 were casualties.

The 101st Airborne Division along with many other allied units also discovered something else. Throughout Europe the Germans had devised a final solution for ridding Jews and other peoples deemed undesirable. It was soldiers like Malarkey who found the concentration camps that were full of death and inhumanity.

For many years those veterans of the 101st that paid such a heavy toll lived in relative obscurity and in peace. It wasn't until Ambrose wrote A Band of Brothers, that the exploits of those paratroopers were made more popularly known. The true band of brothers who looked at what they had done, not in any sense of self-promotion but rather in doing a necessary job that fell upon them to accomplish.

When asked what he gained from meeting with Malarkey, Kelly was rather stoic, perhaps in the same way that those men who once hurdled from airplanes into a dark night might have been.

"A great admiration for what he did," responded Kelly. "That he is an Oregonian and a graduate of this university is something that we wanted our players to understand."

Notes:
Kelly mentioned that last week's team players of the week were James for offense, Eddie Pleasant for defense and Keloni Kamalani. The week before offensive lineman Mark Asper was player of the week.

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