Ducks Preparing Halloween for Trojans

Preparation is the key to winning football games according to Oregon's Chip Kelly. There's no doubt that is exactly what the 10th ranked Ducks are doing this week as they prepare for the No. 5 ranked USC Trojans in a 5 p.m. showdown at Autzen Stadium this Halloween (Saturday) night.

Kelly believes strongly that the success his team is enjoying was caused by the preparation his team made for each game. The focus each week is on the next team. When the Ducks beat Cal 42-3, it wasn't because some confidence gained after beating Utah 31-24 the week before. It was about the week of preparation for Cal. Subsequently, the next week was soley focused on Washington State and the 52-6 win over the Cougars was all about the work in practice, film rooms and meetings.

"These guys are a great bunch to be around," said Kelly of his team during his weekly media conference on Monday. "Our staff and our players are extremely close, our players buy into everything we've taught them ... everybody is on the same page.

After beating arch-rival Washington, 43-19, Oregon spent little time relishing in the victory. This week the big treat for Halloween would be a win for the Ducks and getting past the biggest hurdle of the season. The Trojans downed Oregon State last Saturday night in a hard fought 42-36 win. USC is now 6-1 for the season but sit one game back of Oregon at 3-1 in the Pac-10 race. The sole loss for the Men from Troy was a 16-13 loss to Washington on Sept. 19th. Since then USC has marched over California, 30-3, and Notre Dame, 34-27. Earlier in the year in front of an enormous crowd at Buckeye Stadium, the Trojans got by Ohio State 18-15. This weekend Autzen Stadium will be filled to the brim with Duck fans, who will have been pumped up all day by the presence of ESPN's GameDay. USC has a true freshman, Matt Barkley starting at quarterback, and according to USC Head Coach Pete Carroll it was a good thing for the rookie that he played in front of some big crowds before the Oregon game.

"We've had the advantage of being in front of 110,000 people, 80-something at Notre Dame and a big crowd at Cal that was crazy so at least we've had the experience," recounted Carroll. "When you have a freshman quarterback (Barkley) you want to get as many situations as possible to get him prepared. It helps. This (Autzen) has always been a great place to play with a great stadium and great crowd and we anticipate it's going to be at its peak."

The work the Ducks have done up to this point has paid off, as with a review of the Pac-10 statistics board it is easy to see how the results match up with teams in the conference, and why Oregon sits on top of the conference race. The Ducks are second in the conference in points scored (34.0 points per game), points allowed (16.7), and rushing (210.7 yards per game). The Ducks are tops in the conference in pass defense (178.3 ypg), and third in total defense at 297.1 ypg. Keep in mind USC is second in total defense at 291.7 ypg, first in scoring defense (15.1 ppg), and rushing defense (79.9 ypg). The rush defense is significant because of how Oregon's success has been keyed to the improved running game, especially LaMichael James, who now sits at No. 4 in the conference with 105.0 ypg along with six touchdowns for the season.

Carroll believes that his team has to first adapt the tempo to what the Ducks play. Carroll claims that the Trojans have been working on defending the spread since last spring and thinks the multiplicity of the spread is challenging and the ability to spread the ball all over the field makes what Oregon does a "really cool offense." He also thinks Oregon does a very good job at it too.

"We played Ohio State and San Jose State and they all do a variation of these things," commented Carroll. "These guys (Oregon) are the most committed to the spread attack, so that's taxing for us."

Carroll views the Duck defense as being very aggressive despite a number of injuries that would have killed other team's season.

"To shut down Cal when Cal was really rolling was impressive," observed Carroll. "They haven't slowed down since. We're really catching Oregon at the height of their success right now. I know on both sides of the ball and special teams have been very effective, so we're going to have to be really on it. You take that, Halloween and the crowd, it's going to be a heck of a night. We're going to have to play a great football game to have a chance to hang with these guys."

Kelly may have had an early treat delivered on Monday morning when Talmadge Jackson III showed up and practiced. Jackson was bothered by a back problem during the Husky game and sat out for most of it. After the contest, there was noticeable concern among the Oregon coaching staff that the cornerback position depth was on the extreme end of empty with Jackson missing. However another player, linebacker Josh Kaddu, is definitely out for the game. Kelly has been notorious this season for only replying "day-to-day" when discussing a player's injury, but in Kaddu's case it was very clear on his condition.

During Kelly's weekly media conference, the Oregon headman also said that tight end David Paulson was the Ducks' player of the week on offense, while defensive end Will Tokuafu and wide receiver Rory Cavaille were defensive and special teams players of the week respectively. Wide receiver Tyrece Gaines, Pono Kam and Ben Butterfield were the offensive, defensive and special teams players of the week for the scout team.


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