Ironic or Prophetic?

Eugene -- All season long Oregon's Chip Kelly has preached focusing on the task at hand. He has made a point of not discussing rankings, BCS standings or bowl games. Now, as the Oregon Ducks head south to Tucson, AZ, Kelly's wisdom is becoming more apparent. The most important game for the Oregon Ducks this season is on Saturday against the Arizona Wildcats.

"Is that ironic or is it prophetic?" responded Chip Kelly, when asked about the importance of the upcoming game with Arizona. "We wouldn't be in this position if we didn't take every game that we played as the most important game that we played that week. It's come to the stretch here, everything rides on this game with Arizona (and) our players wouldn't want it any other way."

Oregon is now in position to go to the Rose Bowl if two things happen. First, the Ducks must beat Arizona and, secondly, the Ducks must also beat Oregon State in the Civil War on December 3rd. Kelly though, isn't talking about Oregon State. Instead all he'll discuss is practice and Arizona.

"I see a good practice on Monday," said Kelly in response to a question about the 15 years since Oregon has been to the Rose Bowl. "I haven't talked about the Rose Bowl."

But what about the idea of going to the Rose Bowl?

"I haven't talked about the idea of going to the Rose Bowl," admitted Kelly. "It's been our approach all year long and it hasn't changed. We're not about an end-goal operation…We've got to win the day. If we want to get to the top of the mountain we'd better concentrate on the next step or we'll fall off the mountain."

On the topic of Arizona, Kelly believes that the Wildcats actually run a couple of distinct offensive packages. In one package the Wildcats will stretch a team out with four wide-outs and quarterback Nick Foles is excellent at finding the open man. Foles is second in the conference in completion percentage at 69.7 percent. He has thrown for 1,736 yards, 13 touchdowns and averages 217 yards per game passing.

The Wildcats also have a power running game, tallying 187.1 yards per contest. Last week sophomore Keola Antolin filled in for starter Nic Grigsby, racking up 78 yards on 19 carries with a touchdown. Grigsby had been averaging 66.9 ypg in the eight games he has appeared.

Seven Arizona players have double-digit receptions this year, led by senior Terrell Turner's 42 catches.

While LaMichael James missed out on being named Pac-10 Player of the Week for his 150-yard, three touchdown performance in Oregon's 44-21 win over Arizona State, he still is second in the conference in rushing yards. The Ducks lead the conference in scoring offense (37.1 ppg), scoring defense (20.9 ppg), rushing (237.0 ypg) and passing defense at 181.3 ypg.

One of the changes Kelly made in practice this year was to play music instead of the annoying high pitched screeching noise Mike Bellotti used in practice for years. Make no mistake, the music is played loud, and if you don't happen to be a particular fan of the songs played it too is annoying. However, Kelly mentioned that the players seem to respond better to the music being played both positively and negatively. For those cuts that have an adverse effect, Kelly found it better to delete those from the playlist.

"When we play music it seems like our guys get up a little bit," admitted Kelly. "It's just a concept of having noise. The other problem for it is how do they handle distraction? Are they concentrating on the song or are they blotting it out?"

Kelly mentioned that when the Ducks practice inside Autzen Stadium the Jumbotron showed highlights from GameDay or playing other video. The coach noticed initially the players were watching the big board instead of focusing on practice but eventually the board was ignored. The relevance of course is that during games, the Jumbotron is also going with many interesting videos being flashed. If the players can block out the Jumbotron as well as crowd noise, then playing music in practice has met its desired effect.

An Oregon win this week means that the Ducks can go into the Civil War assured of no less than a share of the conference title. A win over the Beavers, and the Wildcats of course, means a trip to Pasadena on New Year's Day, but for now Kelly isn't even thinking along those lines.

Kickoff for Saturday is 5 p.m. (Pacific) and the game will be carried live on ABC.


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