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DUCKS NOTES: 'O' gets OK; Kelly discounts value of two-game stats; Hart stands out on D-line

EUGENE - Over the weekend, a commotion arose in Duck Land when officials consultant Mike Pereira said that the 'O' hand signal Oregon players show after touchdowns was taunting.

Pereira later changed his mind after consultations and determined that the 'O' is not taunting.

'The 'O' the Ducks flash is OK,' Pereira wrote on Twitter. 'Talked to others and as long as it is not prolonged or directed at an opponent, it's ok.'

Ducks coach Chip Kelly says that he has not talked with anyone from the Pac-12 about the 'O.'

'I have not received any phone calls from the Pac-12, so that's kind of a moot point to me,' Kelly says.

Kelly says the 'O' holds a lot of meaning for the Ducks and their fans.

'The symbol itself means a lot,' Kelly says. 'There's an instant recognition and identification with the 'O,' just if it's on the side of someone's shirt, or if it's on the side of the stadium or you're walking through an airport. I've heard people tell stories about being in an airport and saying that all of a sudden you see that 'O.' That 'O' is a distinctive 'O.' "

The game against Missouri State, a Division I-AA or Football Championship Subdivision opponent, came about because the Ducks had to scrap their return trip to Utah, after the Utes joined the Pac-12 Conference. Utah played in Eugene in 2009.

"We were scrambling to find this game," Kelly says. "We like to play big-time games. I believe in quality opponents. Certainly in this situation it was a one-and-done (with Utah). ... You're bound by who's available right now."

Though he usually does not deal in hypotheticals, Kelly admits there is one team he would really like to play.

'Hypothetically, I'd like to play Manchester United,' Kelly says.

• The rotating defensive line, which had only 1.5 tackles for loss against LSU, had only one TFL (by Dion Jordan) against Nevada. Not many tackles are coming from the D-line, either; Ricky Heimuli had an assist against Nevada, giving him two assisted tackles in two games.

Kelly does not believe that the TFL statistics mean much at this point in the season, though.

'I don't think you can glean anything off of two games,' Kelly says. 'You can just take two games last year in the middle of the season and look at the statistics over those two games. The only time statistics really bare themselves out is over the course of time.

'It's real tough to say, 'We're not doing this.' It's just like I don't expect to score 69 points (every game), either. I don't think you can look at the statistics off of two games and make a real good assumption of where we are, whether it's offensively, defensively or special teams.'

The Ducks have also given up 458 yards rushing in two games - 4.5 per rush.

What kind of production does Kelly want to see from the D-linemen? Making plays? Taking up blockers?

"We never talk about that," he says. "We talk about giving 100-percent effort on every single play. They're getting better."

•• Taylor Hart, a sophomore from Tualatin High, has been UO's best defensive lineman in the first two games.

"I just love his effort. He has a real high motor and is all over the field for us," Kelly says.

••• Last Saturday marked middle linebacker Kiko Alonso's return to the gridiron. Alonso - who has had run-ins with the law - was suspended for the 2010 season and missed the first game of 2011 against LSU. As might be expected, there was some rust in his game. Alonso did show flashes of the player he can be, though.

'He was okay,' Kelly says. 'He hasn't played football in two years, basically. There were some times that he flashed and showed some things that he's capable of. But he, as well as (linebackers) coach (Don) Pellum and (defensive coordinator Nick) Aliotti, will say the same thing, that he needs to continue to improve and get better. But for his first time out there, he did a decent job. We hope he'll continue to grow from there.'

•••• Running back LaMichael James has been a featured returner for the Ducks this season. He has returned two punts for 54 yards and a touchdown. He also has returned one kickoff for 21 yards. Kelly says James was called upon to become a returner mostly out of necessity.

'Kenjon Barner is out right now (to injury), and Cliff (Harris) was out (on suspension),' Kelly says. 'So you've got to pick some other guys. Josh Huff is a returner for us but has been out for a little bit (because of injury). There's a slew of guys who have been back there practicing for us. Not a lot of those guys have been available in the first couple of games.'

Kelly did not offer an opinion about whether James becoming a returner will make him more appealing to NFL scouts.

'I don't know about that,' Kelly says. 'We don't do things to display guys for that. But it helps us as a football team when you have a kid who is that dangerous as a kick returner with the ball in his hands.'

••••• Do not expect the Ducks to look past this weekend's 12:30 p.m. Saturday game at Autzen Stadium against lowly Missouri State and to the Pac-12 opener at Arizona on Sept. 24.

"We're not biting the cheese on that one," Kelly says. "We have a one-game season."