So Many Firsts

Eugene – Who would have imagined that the Oregon Ducks (7-1, 5-0) would be so dominant and so overpowering in the 47-20 win over the USC Trojans? It was a first in a night full of first. The first time Pete Carroll has been beaten by another conference school by more than seven points and more importantly for the Ducks it meant a solid possession of first place in the Pac-10.

All week long Chip Kelly talked about preparation – which is not a first because that's what does every week. His players also echo the same sentiments, that the games are won or lost in the week of practice prior to the game. What is becoming abundantly clear is that Ducks are buying into Kelly's philosophy of hard work and preparation.

"We had a real good week of practice," said senior free safety T.J. Ward. "I think are preparation helped us win this game."

It would be easy to start talking about this game because of the gaudy numbers the Oregon offense amassed, but as has been the case for the season the Oregon defense made a stand in the second half. Ward's words were proved truthful with one look at the defensive statistics.

USC was held to 20 points, 11 points under its season average of 31.9 points per game. The Trojans gained 160 yards rushing, 38 yards below the 198.3-ypg average they had enjoyed. Freshman sensation Matt Barkley passed for 187 yards on 21-for-38, two touchdowns and one interception. Not a bad outing but up until tonight Barkley had been leading the Pac-10 in passing at 257.6 ypg. Against the Ducks he was held 80 yards under his average. In the second half of the game USC could only muster up 134 yards of total offense and three points.

Ward was the star of the defense statistically with a total of 10 tackles (eight solos) including being in on one tackle for loss, one quarterback hurry and an interception. Yet as has been the case there were subtle numbers like the five break ups and two quarterback-hurries the Oregon defense recorded. Nothing spectacular – well it was against USC after all, so the defense held one of the most storied programs in football to three points in the second half.

Offensively, even with a night where he rushed for 164 yards and touchdown plus passing for 222 yards and a touchdown, Jeremiah Masoli coolly spoke of "preparation" during the week. Doing what the "practiced to do."

Practiced to do like the 183 yards and touchdown LaMichael James racked up. James is now tied with Sean Burwell with a freshman best of five 100-yard games.

Masoli's touchdown pass was to Jamere Holland, who recorded his first touchdown as a Duck. While it was nice to score it against his former team, the Trojans, Holland was rather nonchalant about the whole thing. It was nice, but it is… what they practiced.

When talking to this team after perhaps the biggest win in the history of Oregon football there wasn't a lot of exuberance, no chest thumping or anything remotely like that. It was all a matter of business. The prepared, came to game and executed. The expected to win because that's what they prepared themselves for. Linebacker Casey Matthews was asked what changes were made at halftime to account for the near shut out in the second half. Nothing really, Matthews said.

"He pretty much talked about our same defensive game plan and it worked," described Matthews of what Kelly talked about at halftime.

Kelly admits there isn't much in the way of halftime adjustments.

"We didn't do anything differently," said Kelly. "Our halftime adjustments are get a drink of water, touch your toes and let's back out there and play."

It all gets back to what Kelly and his coaching staff worked so hard during the week it works so well that the college football world is likely in shock, not by the fact that USC lost but by the fact that USC lost so badly.

"It was a real mess," said Pete Carroll of the game.

While the loss probably hadn't totally set in on Carroll yet, he looked forward to how the Trojans can still salvage something in the race for the Pac-10 Championship. However for Kelly all he is looking forward to is the first day of practice next week on Monday when the team is back at practice preparing for Stanford.

"The main thing for us is to keep our focus, not letting our head's get big, going into Stanford," said Masoli. "We're a mature team though that won't let that happen. We have a team rule only 24 hours to celebrate, but a lot of guys on our team are from SoCal so I know this means a lot to them. I'm really happy and proud for my team."

It's becoming to be a broken record. Ask Chip Kelly a question about his team and his answer always gets back to preparation and practice.

Considering the Ducks put 619 yards of offense and scored 47 points on a team considered to be so far superior to anyone else in the Pac-10, then Kelly's mantra must work and no one wearing green and yellow is complaining.


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