Chip Kelly's on field demeanor in practice reeks of a busy, hustle and bustle east coast personality. With his stopwatch twirling, running from drill to drill and signature green Oregon visor, Kelly doesn't like to waste time. His mindset doesn't change any when he is in team meetings as well.
"He's high-energy, intense and very precise. He's always asking you questions, and always making sure you know what's going on," observed sophomore quarterback Nathan Costa.
Yet Kelly's personality definitely has a soft and humorous side to it. To see Kelly's humor, look no further than this exchange between Kelly and running back Jeremiah Johnson during spring practice.
While the team focused on a full contact special teams drill, the rehabilitating Jeremiah Johnson went over to Coach Kelly and the quarterbacks. The group was working on foot work and mechanics. Johnson whispered something into Kelly's ear and Kelly nodded, pointing to the front of the line of quarterbacks. Laughing and heckling ensued as Johnson took his spot at the front of the line and prepared to take a simulated snap.
Johnson took the snap and took over exaggerating strides as he stepped back. He looked to his right and then threw to teammate Darron Thomas. It was a decent throw with a nice spiral, and it hit Thomas in his hands. Another round of laughter broke out as Johnson celebrated his toss. The crowd of quarterbacks and Johnson looked to Kelly who was holding back a smile.
"Springfield Pop Warner tryouts are on Saturday," chuckled Kelly.
Coach Kelly isn't just improving the play of Oregon quarterbacks, he's is improving the quality of quarterback recruits entering the Oregon program. Kelly is seen as a relentless recruiter, and without him Darron Thomas certainly wouldn't be here.
"He's a good recruiter. He made me come here, and he made me change my mind," noted Darron Thomas on his de-commitment from LSU to join Oregon instead.
Thomas continued, "He's a good coach, and I can tell being here four years with him is going to be a good thing."
Coaches, media and players have all highlighted Kelly's very "hands-on" style. This style is very different from previous offensive coordinator Gary Crowton. Kelly can be seen at practices showing how he wants his routes to be run or showing where he wants his quarterbacks' release points to be. Yet Kelly isn't just "hands-on" with his players.
Marshall Atkin was waiting in line outside of Autzen Stadium last spring to buy tickets for the first round men's basketball tournament game in Tacoma. Atkin, a 23 year-old lifelong Oregon fan, was throwing around a football with some friends as he waited in line. As he dropped back to pass, a man approached him and started talking to him. The man was the recently hired Chip Kelly, and Kelly was still relatively unknown.
"He told me to adjust my elbow and throw the ball like I'm flicking a booger," recalls Atkin. Atkin exercised Kelly's tip, and he threw the ball to a friend. He thought to himself, what does this guy know? That's when Chip Kelly introduced himself to Marshall Atkin, and Atkin then recognized the man standing before him. He knew had just received some pretty good advice.
Chip Kelly isn't the only east coast native to roam the sidelines of an Oregon practice. Graduate assistant coach Eddy Morrissey's roots are in Massachusetts. Entering his third season with Oregon, he has been assigned to work with the wide receivers along side coach Robin Pflugrad.
Morrissey challenges defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti for the "Most Audible Coach" award. Morrissey and his east coast personality provide some of the funniest one liners you will hear in a practice. Unfortunately a majority of them shouldn't be repeated in public.
Coach Morrissey discussed his love for the Oregon program, "I love Coach Kelly…He's a great innovator, sharp and keeps it light for the guys. They love playing for him... I love my experience here, we have a great staff."
Morrissey in a stereotypical northeastern, fast talking exchange discussed and listed his thoughts about Oregon football and life in Oregon.
"What a great place. I love the weather in the summer. I don't like the rain, but I don't have to shovel it. I wish they had better pizza. The people are awesome, they treat me great. The staff is awesome, and I love the kids. I miss the clam chowder and the food on the north end of Boston. People drive slow out here, and they talk slower. The people love football, and the best thing about it is they love Oregon football. I hope I can stay here.
Yet Morrissey is definitely a favorite of the players, and the exchanges between he and players emphasize that. As a receiver's coach, Morrissey is showered with plenty of cat calls from defensive backs, especially Patrick Chung and Walter Thurmond. One exchange was a textbook example of these two groups getting after one another.
Chung and Morrissey were jawing at one another jokingly after Morrissey gave elicit instructions to one of his receivers to unload on a defensive back while run blocking on the next play. Chung jabbed Morrissey about the quality of play coming from his receivers and laughter followed.
Chung asked, "Are you mad Eddy?"
"Are you kidding? This is great. I am going to be lovin' this all year," replied Morrissey.
My thoughts exactly Coach Morrissey...