SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Oregon coach Chip Kelly met with the media Wednesday amid final preparations for the Fiesta Bowl against Kansas State, 5:30 p.m. PT Thursday at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.
Some of his comments on various topics:
What have you learned as a coach, having made four consecutive BCS games?
"I think you learn really how hard it is to get there. As a team, as a staff, as a group of players, to not take it for granted. It's a truly special thing to be able to play in a BCS game. We make sure (young players) understand it's extremely hard to get there and appreciate it and understand what it takes to get there. And make sure to pass on to the younger guys what it takes to get there. It's not a surprise that you made it there. It's not luck that you made it there. It's about our preparation, always constantly trying to hammer home that issue to our guys. Don't take anything for granted."
Like with the pistol offense trend in the NFL, thoughts on what seems to be a melding of the NFL and college games?
"Don't know. Haven't been there (in NFL). Chris Ault at Nevada invented the pistol offense. Just retired. Great football coach out there. There's a lot of ways to play football. Pistol, don't know that very well. We're more of a spread run team. Trends go one way and the other. I said this a long time ago: If you weren't in the room with Amos Alonzo Stagg and Knute Rockne when they invented this game, you stole it from somebody else. Any coach is going to learn from other people and see how they can implement it in their system. Anything you do has to be personnel driven. You have to adapt to the personnel you have."
What's it been like to coach the Ducks?
"I'm not a big 'reflect back' guy. But it has been fun. This group, we're young. We have 65 freshmen and sophomores. The older core group Dion Jordan, Michael Clay, Kiko Alonso, Kenjon (Barner) there's not a lot of them. They have done an unbelievable job of making sure these young kids understand what this is all about."
What similarities do Oregon and Kansas State share?
"I think we're a lot more similar than people think. Offensively, we rely on running the football, play-action pass. They do, as well. We preach special teams. They preach special teams. We're a little bit different in our spacing on the defensive side of the ball than they are. Still the same fundamentals. They run to the ball extremely well on defense. We do, as well."
Kansas State's strong on special teams; are special teams really a third of the game?
"Numbers-wise, it's actually 20 percent of the game by how many snaps you have. The difference is how much yardage can be gained. If you can have a punt that's for zero yards, you're changing field position 40, 50 yards at a whack. It's those hidden yards; can you get a decent return? Sometimes a decent return is eight yards, and it's not a highlight on ESPN. But that can be the different in you getting in a position to score."
K-State coach Bill Snyder doesn't like dealing with media. And, you?
(Facetiously) "I think that's probably where myself and Coach Snyder differ. It's certainly the highlight of my day. I love when it's the first thing in the morning because it can't get any worse than this."
(Seriously) "It's part of the game. One thing I talk to our players about all the time, I have to check myself on it, too, you can't be a selective participant. You can't choose what you do. If we did, it would be total anarchy in this world, you know, we'd just do what we'd like."
What else describes QB Marcus Mariota, besides the great numbers as a first-year quarterback?
"What he's done is obviously very, very unique for a freshman to do in that short of time. I think the best compliment I can give Marcus is it wasn't a surprise to anybody inside our football program. I think people knew instantly, almost instantly when he first arrived on our campus, what a special player he was. ... He just continues to develop and to grow. ... The maturity he has as a player is just a compliment to him."
How much of the Fiesta Bowl boils down to pace?
"There's a lot more involved in the game than just the pace. It's going to come down to execution, which team can execute, which team can tackle. ... We have to get out of blocks on special teams and defense."
Both are one-loss teams; under the future BCS playoff, both would still be in contention for the national championship. Do you advocate the four-team playoff plan?
"Unfortunately, they don't ask us. We don't get a vote. Obviously, the game should be settled on the field. What's the exact formula? I don't know. If you pick four, (number) five is going to complain; if you pick eight, then nine is going to complain. I think they're moving in the right direction. ... We knew this season what the rules of engagement were (it's) a playoff game starting from game one. If you lose, you put it in the hands of other people. ... We had a loss to Stanford that played in the Rose Bowl yesterday. Our next challenge is to finish this thing off the right way. We believe a bowl game is about improvement."