UO NOTES: Ducks hope 'train' takes them to Pac-12 title game
- Jason Vondersmith
- Portland Tribune - Sports
Any Oregon Ducks fans worried about their team suffering a hangover from the loss to USC?
Well, the train has left the station.
Funny line by coach Chip Kelly, who said that he and coaches walked out of the Casanova Center the day after the Ducks lost to USC and ... "I saw the feel-sorry-for-ya train leaving the parking lot."
Indeed, Kelly has been taking the temperature of his team this week after USC's 38-35 win and "they've responded well," the coach says.
Said James on Tuesday: "When you lose a game you can't wait to play the next one."
The next one is the Civil War game, 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Autzen Stadium: Oregon (9-2, 7-1 Pac-12) vs. Oregon State (3-8, 3-5).
• Kelly, who moved from New Hampshire in 2007, has often said that every game is the team's Super Bowl and every opponent is the team's rival.
Although not publicly recognizing Washington and Oregon State as the program's true rivals, as has been the reality for years, Kelly did retort one reporter's offering Tuesday:
"I don't discount rivalry games."
He says that Jerry Allen, UO radio play-by-play man, taught him about the Civil War.
• Nobody can argue the stakes of the Civil War game - again.
In 2008, OSU would have made the Rose Bowl with a win. It lost.
In 2009, the winner would make the Rose Bowl. UO won.
In 2010, the Ducks had to win to seal a BCS title game spot. They did.
Now, a UO win puts the Ducks into the Pac-12 title game, Dec. 2 at Autzen. If the Ducks lose, Stanford would be headed to the Pac-12 title game, and Oregon would likely be Alamo Bowl-bound.
• UO offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich says that Mark Banker, OSU defensive coordinator, has been trying different things the past two years - in the wake of the Oregon win in 2008 that featured 65 points and 694 yards offense.
The Ducks have won the past two Civil War games as well, but not with 65 points and 694 yards offense.
"My concern is their talent, it's hit an uptick at the end," Helfrich says. "We know we're certainly going to get their best shot."
• Sophomore defensive lineman Taylor Hart has been the one steady UO starter from the state - Tualatin High.
"Taylor's been outstanding," Kelly says. "His improvement - year to year, game to game - jumps out at you.
"He's got a great motor. He's bought into everything coach (Jerry Azzinaro) is teaching. Great technician. He practices the same way he plays -with a passion. You love having a kid like Taylor Hart. He just comes to work every single day. Unbelievable work ethic."
• Should the Ducks win the Pac-12 title game and make the Rose Bowl, it appears winnable this year. The Big Ten doesn't have a top-10 team: Michigan State 14th; Michigan 15th; Wisconsin 16th; Penn State 19th; Nebraska 21st.
Kelly, on the Rose Bowl possibility: "That's down the road. I have never once talked about playing in a bowl. We have a one-bowl season (the OSU game)."
• LaMichael James sits atop the UO all-time rushing and touchdown list. But, he had only three carries after halftime of the USC game, finishing with 20 carries for 78 yards. Backup Kenjon Barner had 12 of his 15 carries and 109 of his 123 yards in the second half.
James says he was fine in the second half, meaning his elbow or nothing else hurt him. His elbow brace broke during a second-quarter fumble.
Asked about James' lack of second half production, Kelly said, "Cam does all that. I don't even look up," he says, deferring the question of playing time to running backs coach Gary Campbell.
• Kelly, on OSU coach Mike Riley, whose team beat Washington last week in an otherwise down year: "I think Mike's teams are always well-coached, always well-prepared. ... When they're on offensively, they're a very good team."