Kelly Impressed with Locker

The No. 12 Oregon Ducks (5-1, 3-0) take on the Washington Huskies (3-4, 2-2) at Husky Stadium on Saturday. The Ducks are coming off a bye week and look to extend a five-game win streak against the Dawgs who are dealing with a 24-17 heartbreaking loss. For fans this is the rivalry game of the Northwest but Oregon's Chip Kelly is offering no bulletin board material.

The Huskies lost to Arizona State last Saturday when the Washington defense had a sudden lapse and ASU's Danny Sullivan hoisted a 50-yard bomb to a wide-open Chris McGaha in the closing seconds of a contest that was filled with penalties and miscues. Washington, is in the midst of rebuilding itself from the shambles of a 0-12 campaign last year and first year coach Steve Sarkisian seemed to have the Huskies going in the right direction until the gigantic mistake at Sun Devil Stadium. However, if you ask Oregon's Chip Kelly, he thinks Sark is doing a good job at Washington and those sorts of mistakes are all part of college football.

"Their offense revolves around Jake (Locker) and Sark is doing a great job," observed Kelly of what is going on Seattle. "I'm very, very impressed with what they are doing. They've got a great scheme that puts him (Locker) in position to make plays and he continues to make them.

"Strange things happen in college football," said Kelly of Washington's season. "The week before they won the game because the ball bounces off someone shoes."

Two weeks ago Washington had a miraculous finish to the Arizona game when Mason Foster plucked the ball out of the air after it had ricocheted off Delashawn Dean's foot and returned the ball 37-yards for the winning touchdown in the final 36-33 decision.

When it comes to Locker, Kelly has all the superlatives an opposing coach is supposed to when talking about next week's opponent.

"I think the world of Jake Locker," said Kelly during his weekly media conference. "I think he's a tremendous football player. He scares us more than anybody we've played against."

Kelly believes Locker is a complete quarterback and his statistics back that up. Locker is second in the Pac-10 in passing at 243.1-yards per game. He's 135-for-236, 11 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also has rushed for 223 yards this season and leads the conference in total offense at 275 yards per contest.

Oregon's defense has been the biggest surprise for regular followers of the Ducks. Defensive Coordinator Nick Aliotti's crew has yet to be burned on an explosion play for a score this season. The Ducks answered critics of the defensive line when UCLA was held out of the end zone from inside the one-foot line two weeks ago in a 24-10 win at the Rose Bowl. Locker was most successful against Oregon in 2007 when the Huskies put up 34 points and 421 yards offense including Locker's 257 yards of passing and 78 yards of rushing.

Are Kelly's praises simply coach-speak though? After all Oregon has dominated Washington over the last several years and during Kelly's time as offensive coordinator Oregon has racked up some big numbers. In Kelly's first year as the OC, Oregon beat Washington 661 yards of total offense including 465 yards in rushing in a 55-34 blowout at Husky Stadium. Last year at Autzen Stadium for the first game of the season, Oregon again exploded on Washington to the tune of 44-10 and along the way amassed 496 yards including 256 yards of rushing. So far this season Washington has given up an average of 162.4-yards per game, so does Kelly think based on what's happened in the past that the Ducks will do well in running the ball in Seattle next Saturday?

"I think it is a different team, a different coaching staff," admitted Kelly. "(Daniel) Te'o-Nesheim is just a great player and defensive lineman ... It's a different scheme so we haven't spent any time looking at our games in the past with Washington because they've changed so much on the defensive side of the ball. I don't think you can look at the past, in 2007 or 2008 and compare that with what will happen in 2009 because it's not the same scheme."

Oregon is averaging 202.7-ypg this season as opposed to 280.1in 2008 and 251.7 in 2007.

If Kelly is being modest and not wanting to stir the pot of the brewing rivalry, he's doing a good job. While he knows about the rivalry, he takes the game in stride and emphasizes to his players that each game is important. Even when asked about Oregon's current rankings in the BCS poll he goes out of his way to concentrate on the task at hand.

"The only thing we can control and that's what this football program stands for, is what we can control," relayed Kelly. "I tell our players all the time, 'do your job. Your job is to go out and tackle that guy. My job is to prepare you for the next football game not who's playing in the next BCS game."

Notes:

Kelly indicated that Jeremiah Masoli was taking snaps at practice and the coaching staff is preparing Masoli and Nate Costa for the Husky game. When asked Masoli's condition, Kelly remarked "day-to-day."

Since 1995, Oregon is 15-2 in the regular season when coming off a bye week. The Ducks only two setbacks came vs. Washington in 1996 and at Arizona in 2007.

Oregon has held opponents to 10 points or less for three consecutive games.

JR DE Kenny Rowe is tied for 9th nationally in sacks per game at 1.08.

FR RB LaMichael James is 23rd in rushing average at 96.83 yards per game. James is averaging 125.8 yards in four games since becoming a starter and has 581 yards overall to rank third all-time on UO's freshman rushing list. For comparison sake, Jonathan Stewart (2005) had 188 yards and Jeremiah Johnson (2005) 147 during their freshman seasons.

SR PK Morgan Flint is tied for 34th in scoring (8.0 points per game) ...

As a team, UO is fourth nationally in kickoff returns (30.0), sixth in pass efficiency defense (91.34), tied for 11th in sacks (3.0) and 16th in rushing offense (202.67).


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