After all the Ducks are well known for an offense that wants to snap the ball within 14-seconds after the end of the previous play. If Oregon has caught opposing defenses napping before, couldn't the same thing happen to Oregon when the Arkansas State Red Wolves take the field on Saturday night? Will the tempo and pace of the Red Wolves cause some nightmares for the Oregon defense the same way Oregon's offense has done to others?
"We'll keep the same patterns, rotating between twenty and twenty-five guys," responded Chip Kelly in a rather calm and confident manner. "That's been kind of our deal since 2009, our first season here. We've always planned on playing a lot of guys on the defensive side of the ball. I think obviously you are going to get a lot of reps in a game like this or any game that we played. We're built for depth; we really strive for it in practice. We practice at a pretty fast clip ourselves and I think our guys are used to that tempo."
Granted the Ducks will have the advantage of playing before a friendly home crowd but still Oregon is 1-2 in season openers under fourth-year head coach Kelly. In Kelly's first year the Ducks travelled to Boise State and were shocked by the Broncos 19-8, in a game that will always be better remembered for LaGarrette Blount's outburst that caused him to benched for 8 games that season rather than the final score of the game. Oregon also dropped the opener last year to LSU in Jerry's World, otherwise known as Cowboy Stadium in Dallas against the team that would be No. 1 for most of the year, LSU, 40-27. In Kelly's only season opener at home so far was against New Mexico and that ended up with a 72-0 win over the Lobos.
This year, Oregon prepares for a team that is coming off a Sun Belt Conference Championship and an appearance in the GoDaddy.com bowl, in which Northern Illinois prevailed 38-20. The Red Wolves finished the season 10-3 and the quarterback, Ryan Aplin, 6-1, 205 and is USA?Today Preseason Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year.
Aplin will have a number of big receivers to throw to including Josh Jarboe, 6-3, 215 and Taylor Stockemer, 6-4, 210.
"From a player's standpoint it starts with the quarterback who was the player of the year in their conference last year," said Kelly of Aplin and the Red Wolves. "He can beat you throwing the ball; he can beat you running the ball."
Oregon is hoping to add to its 91 forced turnovers in three seasons under Kelly are the second-most in the nation behind Oklahoma State (108). The question is of course can they defense stay fresh for an entire game.
Last year under Huge Freeze (currently head coach at Mississippi) the Red Wolves ran a spread offense with an up-tempo pace, similar to what Oregon does and this new head coach Gus Malzahn will try to pick the pace even more.
Kelly has known and competed against Malzahn in the past, and listening to the Oregon headman talk about his upcoming adversary, one senses a great deal of admiration.
"We have a ton of respect for Gus as a football coach, he was one of the top offensive coordinators out there when he was at Tulsa and then when he was at Auburn," Kelly said of Malzahn. "We've got some familiarity with his scheme on the offensive side of the ball because we played them (Auburn) two years ago in the Championship game.
Malzahn took over for Freeze last year, so there are some unknowns for the first contest. Oregon's defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti said on Tuesday that the staff is "watching Auburn (films) to get an idea of schemes and watching Arkansas State‘s (films) for an idea of personnel."
Still though the Oregon coaches freely admit while they have an idea of what Arkansas State will do schematically, no one knows for sure what ASU does until the step onto the playing field for opening kickoff.
Will the fact the game is being carried on national television going to affect the pace the game is played at by these two up-tempo teams? Kelly thinks not, at least for Oregon since all of Oregon's games are televised and according to the head coach it is only in bowl or championship games where more TV advertising is sold is the game interrupt a bit more.
"Every game we've played since I've been here has been on television and has commercial breaks, there's always TV timeouts in every game we've played. Whether it is a local broadcast or a national broadcast, it doesn't change."
Just how will the tempo of the game affect either team won't be determined until Saturday night with kickoff scheduled for 7:30 p.m. (PT) and will be carried nationally on ESPN.
Ducks Plan to Use Lots of Defenders
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