Chip Kelly's laundry list for Ducks
EUGENE - Oregon's game on Saturday against Missouri State is not supposed to be difficult. The Bears are not a top-five team with a huge line like LSU. They are not a potential giant killer like Nevada could have been. Missouri State, out of the Missouri Valley Conference, is a Division I-AA team, and an 0-2 one at that.
Overlooking any opponent is out of the realm of possibility for the Ducks under coach Chip Kelly, though.
'The way you set this program up here is we have a vision for what this thing should look like and how we should practice, how we should play, and that's the standard we hold ourselves to,' Kelly says. 'That's what I hope our players understand as we continue to practice for this week and get ready for Missouri State.'
Oregon, is 1-1 after last week's 69-20 blowout of Nevada. Kelly says the Ducks can improve on a lot of things, starting with the 12:30 p.m. Missouri State game at Autzen Stadium. Everything, in fact.
'There's not anything that I'm saying 'we're good at this,'' Kelly says.
On Kelly's laundry list of things to improve: blocking and finishing things up front; tackling in the open field; getting lined up on defense when the opponent uses tempo; third-down defense; cleaning up penalties, and ball security.
'There's not one place where I can say I'm really happy with what we're doing in this situation,' Kelly says. 'Where not where we need to be.'
The Bears use a spread-offense approach that is similar to Oregon's. Their quarterback, Trever Wooden, started 10 games last season as a receiver. They have two big and physical running backs in Chris Douglas and Stephen Johnson. Kelly points to receiver Jermaine Saffold as another threat.
The biggest challenge the Bears' offense presents is that the Ducks are not familiar with their personnel.
'It's not knowing a ton of guys and not a lot of crossover in recruiting,' Kelly says. 'It's a different area of the country, and there's not a lot of guys there that you're like, 'Oh, that's that kid, we saw him in high school.' So there are a lot of unknowns when you're coming into a game like this. And you won't be able to tell until you get into the game itself.'
Missouri State runs a 3-4 defense. While LSU occasionally went to a 3-4 formation on third downs, this will be the first time the Ducks have faced a true 3-4 this season. The Ducks' offense will have to adjust to the different spacing, with two guard bubbles and a nose guard lining up over the center.
'There's some schematic problems that that defense presents,' Kelly says. 'It's just the familiarity with it. The good thing is that our defense runs some of it during camp, so we've got some familiarity with it. But the way Missouri State runs it is a little bit different than the way our defense runs it. We can kind of simulate the looks a little bit, but it's still going to be kind of new to us.'
The matchup between Ducks center Hroniss Grasu and Missouri State's nose guard, 6-3, 300-pound junior Tevan Ferguson from Nashville, Tenn., will one of the most pivotal battles on the field.
The 6-3, 290-pound Grasu, a redshirt freshman, 'got some good work in camp with having guys like Ricky (Heimuli) and Wade (Keliikipi) on his head,' Kelly says, 'but to get one every snap, that's going to be a real challenge, and a real matchup to watch.'
As a young team, some of the players are new to Kelly's 'Win the Day' philosophy. So far, though, Kelly says he has been happy with how his team is preparing for a lower-rated opponent.
'The last two days they've been good,' Kelly says, of his players. 'We practiced really well yesterday. That excited me about this group.'