Ducks back to work preparing for Stanford

Eugene – While everyone else in the country is talking about the Oregon Ducks (7-1, 5-0) as being perhaps the best team in college football, the Ducks themselves are more concerned about the Stanford Cardinal (5-3, 4-2) and the game they'll play this Saturday in Palo Alto. Oregon's Chip Kelly calls Stanford an outstanding team that can beat teams either by running or throwing the ball.

Kelly thinks that with Toby Gerhart, Stanford can obviously run as well as anybody in the country. The Cardinal has an outstanding offensive line according to Kelly and will run a lot varied schemes. Sometimes Stanford will play with six offensive linemen and take a tight end out. The Cardinal will do a lot of shifting and motion before the snap trying to confuse the defense. Kelly believes Gerhart is one of the top running backs in the country, and that the big difference between last year and this year is the play of Andrew Luck.

"I think he's one of the top quarterbacks around," said Kelly during his weekly media conference. "He's only a freshman, (but) he allows them to be balanced and doesn't allow you to just gang up on the run game."

The Oregon headman also thinks Cardinal Ryan Whalen is a nice receiver, and kick return/receiver Chris Owusu has "dynamic" speed.

"We're going to have our hands full," said Kelly. "It will be one of the top offenses we face."

Kelly believes the key match-ups will be the Stanford offense against the Oregon defense and also the match-ups of special teams.

Meanwhile, the Head Coach felt his team had a good Monday practice. Kelly's mantra all year has been about preparation and practice, and today finally admitted he thinks his team does well on the practice field. Last Saturday night the hard work in preparation paid off as the Ducks demolished the USC Trojans 47-20 in front of a sold-out Autzen Stadium and a national television audience. Since then the Ducks have been the talk of college football and many believe the Ducks could well be the best team in the country playing right now. The Ducks amassed 613 yards of total offense and during the second half made the Trojans look slow and out of shape. USC's defense was especially exposed with poor tackling technique and in many instances looked too tired to keep up. Are the Duck coaches emphasizing good technique especially in the fast paced practices?

"Yes we are," admitted Kelly. "I really think the way we play on Saturdays is a direct result of how we practice. We practice very fast for a reason, in that the game itself is a slowed-down version of what we do in practice. We practice better than anybody else in the country in terms of how we approach practice and what our player's mindset is and the pace and tempo we have them practice at. That certainly is a benefit for us on Saturdays."

While some would like to believe the Ducks were playing over their heads, actually the pace and execution is something Oregon has been doing for seven straight games and obviously getting better at it game-by-game.

"I don't know if we played any faster (against USC) than we did at Washington or Cal, but it's part of being a no-huddle team that you have to vary the paces you play at," explained Kelly about the speed at which his team plays. "You just can't play a million miles an hour on every play…We want to do everything that causes problems for the defense."

Still though, a big win over a team that has won the Pac-10 Championship every year since Oregon did in 2001 could be cause for the team to be very confident right now. Wouldn't that confidence increase because of the big win?

"They're a pretty confident group now if you've been around them," observed Kelly. "They weren't surprised on what happened Saturday because of their confidence. They weren't surprised with Cal because of their confidence, but it's confidence because of the work they put in before the game. They know there is no way they can be confident this week unless they have a good week of practice."

Is there a chance that the confidence will spill over causing the team to expect the opposition to just give up because they are playing Oregon? What is Kelly doing to prevent over-confidence and keeping his team focused?

"Our team has been extremely focused all season long," reported Kelly on how he is keeping the team's attention on Stanford. "They understand – I talk about one loss or win doesn't define you as a team. The other thing we need to do is just show them tapes of the Stanford offense, defense and special teams and that'll get their attention right away."

The question then is how was the Monday practice?

"They did a nice job," said Kelly on Monday practice. "Our focus and attention to detail I thought was really sharp. Watching Jeremiah (Masoli) in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills, I thought he did a really nice job. Overall it was a pretty good Monday for us."

Masoli of course was sensational against the Trojans, throwing for 222 yards and a touchdown, and running for another 164 yards and a touchdown.

On the lighter side, Kelly was asked about putting on the Duck mascot head last Saturday for ESPN's College GameDay. Kelly indicated he knew about being on GameDay but did not know about the Duck suit. Still though, he went along with it hoping to have some fun with the fans. When further asked about the mascot, Kelly played along with the gag and went a step further.

"I want to know why our mascot is not in the Capital One Challenge," asked Kelly with a grin. "I think our mascot is the best in the country and I'd like to start a campaign for the Duck to see if we can get him on there because I don't know if there is a better mascot in all of sports. I was watching a commercial this morning with Doug Flutie so I'm going to have to call Doug and find out why the Oregon Duck is not involved in that because I think he's the best in the country."

When one of the assembled media pointed out that it might be due to a licensing agreement Oregon has with Disney, owners of the Donald Duck image, Kelly found the answer to his question.

"Really?" asked Kelly. "Okay, that's a good answer."

Notes: Players of the week:
Offense: Bo Thran
Defense: Eddie Pleasant
ST: Morgan Flint
Scout team
Offense: Everett Benyard
Defense: Blake Thompson
ST: Jennings Stewart

LaMichael James was also named Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week for his performance against USC.

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