Ducks Expect Some New Tweaks

When Oregon (0-1) faces Purdue (1-0) this Saturday at Autzen Stadium for a 7:15 p.m. start two teams will have slightly different agendas. Purdue, under first year coach Danny Hope wants to keep the momentum going from the 52-31 win last week over Toledo and make up for the 32-26 overtime loss to Oregon last year. The Ducks simply want some momentum.

Oregon was KO'd last week at Boise State, falling 19-8 in one of the most inept performances put on by the Ducks since the 1970s. Coupled with the drama of "The Punch" an unfortunate incident following the game costing starting running back LeGarrette Blount his college playing days, Oregon's first year coach Chip Kelly has had a big task reassembling his football team. However, Kelly says the team has had two good days of practice and they are excited and looking forward to playing Purdue.

When Oregon traveled to Lafayette last year, Kelly was the offensive coordinator for Mike Bellotti, who is now Oregon's athletic director. The Ducks struggled against the Boilermakers and it took a couple of big plays, one by Jairus Byrd, now of the Buffalo Bills on an 87-yard punt return for score, and a 71-yard run by Blount. The big running back had a break out day by rushing for 131 yards on 11 carries and scored twice including the final plunge into the end zone in overtime for the win.

This year, Danny Hope has changed a number of things since taking over from his former boss Joe Tiller. Hope installed new offensive (Gary Nord), defensive (Donn Landholm) and special teams (J.B. Gibboney) coordinators. While there are still some similarities from last year, Kelly expects to see some "new tweaks" from the Boilermakers.

"We've watched the Toledo game," said Kelly of Purdue during the Pac-10 media conference on Tuesday. "They had an outstanding win over a good Toledo football program on Saturday. We prepare knowing they didn't show everything against Toledo. There are going to be new things they show to us, but it's still about lining up and playing football."

Purdue running back Ralph Bolden went off for 234 yards and two touchdowns against Toledo. The sophomore's performance was the third best ever for a Boilermaker and it was Bolden's first start. One of the switches from the pass-first offenses of Tiller was that Purdue racked up 315 yards of rushing. Quarterback Joey Elliott demonstrated that passing isn't forgotten as he had 220 yards and three touchdowns in his first start but also gave up three interceptions.

Not much can be said for Oregon's offensive performance last Thursday night against Purdue. The Ducks managed to record a total of only 152 yards. Defensively though the team held BSU to 19 points and considering the Duck defenders were on the field almost 43 of the 60 minutes the game lasted, it wasn't as bad as it could have been.

The Ducks are hoping that the obvious horrible execution and loss of confidence are restored for the home opener. Kelly did say that while LaMichael James is listed number one on the depth chart, Kelly says he will use three running backs against Purdue this Saturday. James' run of 22-yards against Boise State was the longest run of the long night for Oregon and account for most of the total 31 yards rushing output. Kelly mentioned that James has the ability to "start and stop on a dime" plus has "great vision."

"It will be a combination of LaMichael, Kenjon Barner and Andre Crenshaw, we'll have all three guys," said Kelly of the running back situation. "You'll see all three."

The more friendly confines of Autzen Stadium should produce a bigger output of rushing yardage for a team that last year averaged over 280 yards per game.

It will be hard to imagine any media conference with Kelly going on without a Blount question, but today one question about Blount's status seems to be answered.

"LaGarrette was at practice today," said Kelly.

Did Kelly expect that?

"Yep," was Kelly quick reply. "I know exactly where LaGarrette is and we've discussed the whole situation. We have a plan in place for LeGarrette to move forward and he has followed that plan."

Moving forward is exactly what the Ducks need to do now. The Boise State game is over and done and the Ducks have a new chance to gain some momentum and make 2009 the season many expected it would be.

The game will be telecast on FSN with Barry Tomkins, play-by-play, Petros Papadakis, analyst and Michael Eaves, sideline.


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