Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Everything is 'wide-open' for Oregon
By ESPN.com staff
Oregon coach Chip Kelly runs a fast-paced offense and a fast-paced pre-spring football teleconference.
When a telephone operator announced there were no more questions in the queue on Wednesday -- instead of the customary reiteration of "Hit 'star-1' to ask a question" -- Kelly hung up before completing the typical roster run-through.
Of course, while Kelly is often insightful and colorful while answering specific questions about specific players, he's not much for presenting a pecking order for positional competitions heading into spring practices. A pre-spring depth chart? Neh.
"Everything’s wide open," Kelly said. "It doesn't matter what position you play on our team. It’s always been that way -- since day one -- and it’ll always be that way. Our program is founded on competition, so we don’t go in saying who’s what at every position."
That includes the QB competition between Bryan Bennett and Marcus Mariota, which was brought front-and-center by the somewhat surprising early departure of Darron Thomas for the NFL draft.
Some quick notes:
- Kelly said the QB battle likely won't be decided until the week before the opener against Arkansas State on Sept. 1.
- Three true freshmen will participate this spring: DL Arik Armstead, TE Evan Baylis and QB Jake Rodrigues. All three could be in the mix for playing time, even -- conceivably -- Rodrigues. Of course, as Kelly said, "They've got to catch up."
- Kelly on Kenjon Barner taking over for LaMichael James after three years as an understudy: "I know Kenjon Barner is capable of being a 25 carry guy, if need be... I think Kenjon coming back for his senior year, he's going to be one of the top running backs in the country."
- Oregon's spring practices, for the first time, are completely closed. Said Kelly, "We analyze everything in this football program, look at the pluses and minuses. And if the pluses outweigh the minuses, that's the direction we go in." Kelly then added that only a handful of fans typically show up for open practices: "It's not like we've told thousands they can't come to practice."
- The first of 15 practices is Tuesday. The spring game on April 28 at 11 a.m. at Autzen Stadium will not only be open to everyone, it also will be broadcast on ESPN3.