Plan doesn't change for Kelly, Oregon

January, 9, 2011
1/09/11
12:37
PM ET
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Oregon coach Chip Kelly faced the media for the final time Sunday before the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game, and when asked for his opening statement, his response won't surprise those who follow the Ducks.

"Wow. Haven't heard enough?" he quipped. "Game is tomorrow night. Let's go play. Questions?"

The time for talking, which Kelly never really engaged in with much relish anyway, is almost over. Time to walk the walk.

While Auburn coach Gene Chizik spoke with reporters for a full half hour, Kelly was done in 15 minutes. When asked general questions about college football rules, the BCS system, the SEC vs. the Pac-10 and that now infamous refund Kelly provided a fan unhappy with the result at Boise State in 2009, Kelly refused to engage.

"It's about playing the game now," Kelly said.

As for the game, Kelly did have some thoughts.

The Ducks defense is going to have to tackle well, particularly when Tigers quarterback Cam Newton and his 6-foot-6, 250-pound frame takes off running. The offensive line is going to have to win the battle with Nick Fairley and a tough Tigers front four. And the Ducks need to protect the ball and force Auburn to make mistakes.

"Whoever wins that turnover battle is probably going to win the game," Kelly said.

Oregon ranks seventh in the nation in turnover margin, and its 35 forced turnovers ranks third. Auburn ranks 32nd in turnover margin.

Moreover, Oregon has a decided advantage with special teams. Explosion plays and field position likely will provide a significant measure.

"The hidden yardage usually occurs in the special teams game," Kelly said. "It will be an interesting matchup. That battle I think there could be a determining factor in the game -- how well do we defend them in their return game and how well do they defend us in our return game."

Kelly did admit that the Ducks playing in the Rose Bowl last year should help. Almost the entire starting lineup from the crew that was upset by Ohio State is back. Kelly supported the notion that his team being a year older, a year more mature and experienced should be beneficial.

"In life, you are a byproduct of your experiences," Kelly said. "The fact we have played in a game of that stature like the Rose Bowl, hopefully we can learn from that, the good and the bad. I think our kids are a little bit more mature. I watched them as the season went along. There wasn't a huge celebration at the end of it. It was about we still have another game to play. I think maybe we were happy to get there last year. Now we have to see if we can do the next step and actually win the game."

When asked if Auburn could simulate the Ducks' offensive tempo in practice, Kelly essentially said no, but noted, "We can't simulate Cam Newton."

And that was about as close as Kelly came to putting a face on the Ducks' foe. Kelly has stayed true to his mantra of playing a "faceless opponent" every week this season, and it's worked well 12 times. He's not going to change now, no matter how big the stage.

"It's about what we do," he said.

So Kelly's final thoughts about the biggest game in Oregon history are simple, and you've certainly heard them before: Stick to the plan. Play fast, play hard, finish. Win the day.

Ted Miller | email

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