The Oregon athletic department has provided a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what a home football game day is like for Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens.
Mullens starts the day off by making the rounds through the stadium and into the tailgating scene, getting face time with many of the Ducks' long-time supporters. I would love to see a statistic on what occurs more on a fall Saturday at Autzen Stadium: hands shaken by Mullens or Puddles the Duck push-ups after a score by the home team.
One of the hands Mullens shakes is former Oregon head coach Rich Brooks. Brooks was Oregon's head coach from 1977-94 before moving on to the St. Louis Rams, a defensive coordinator role with the Atlanta Falcons and, finally, the head coaching job at Kentucky from 2003-09. Brooks makes his home in Oregon and, after five decades of coaching, it's great to see him enjoy a game day like a normal civilian.
As game time approaches, Mullen migrates to the field for more conversations with those on hand. Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott on this night traveled to Eugene to see Oregon face Washington. During the game, Mullens journeys up to the suite level to say hello to more VIPs and watches part of the game with his wife and sons.
At halftime, Mullen greets the media covering the game and visits with ESPN's Joe Tessitore and Matt Millen, who called the game for a national audience. He then watched the fourth quarter on the field and attended the Ducks' post-game press conference. Then, it's time for one last trip to his office to check in with his staff before Mullens shuts the door and heads home.
It's just one day's work for the athletic director at a college football powerhouse.
Coming off their first loss of the season, Mark Helfrich and the Oregon staff were impressed with the focus that the team exhibited the first day back out on the field.
Helfrich was asked after practice yesterday if it takes a greater effort from the players to maintain a sense of consistency after a loss rather than after a win.
"That's always the billion dollar question," Helfrich responded. "How hard is it to deal with everything that goes along with being undefeated, and being in those situations and the pressure, and the outside influences that our guys have to deal with versus taking one on the chin?"
"I don't know. For some people, that may be a sigh of relief that some of that pressure is now off...but it's not really off, and that's why we always try to handle things, good, bad or indifferent, the same way. It's how you build up to a perceived 'bigger game' and 'lesser game' the same way." Helfrich responded.
Chip Kelly has always maintained the perspective that you prepare for your biggest games the same way that you would against an FCS opponent, and theoretically, that mentally prepares you for the grind of a season. It sounds like the focus was right back where it needed to be yesterday, as they prepare for their big rivalry game with Oregon State.
Chip Kelly was asked at his Tuesday press briefing if he expects Stanford to try to sit on the ball to keep the Ducks' offense off the field.
Kelly cracked a smile, paused about three seconds and responded, half chuckling, "I have no idea."
His tone and reaction indicate that a ball-control offense is a tactic he has seen, and defeated, close to 50 times in his tenure at Oregon.
Kelly then referenced Oregon's game with UCLA in 2010, a game in which the Ducks ran 73 plays to the Bruins' 70, and yet UCLA's offense stayed on the field for 38 and a half minutes, 17 minutes longer than Oregon (the numbers Kelly cited were slightly off). And the Ducks won 60-13.
"We've lost time of possession in maybe every game we've played," Kelly continued. "Time of possession means absolutely nothing to this operation. We were last in the nation last year in time of possession."
Thanks to Rob Moseley of the Eugene Register-Guard for the video.
Memorial Stadium has not been a safe place for Oregon to play during Chip Kelly's tenure. California handed the Ducks a rare conference loss in 2008 and nearly did again in 2010 when Oregon escaped with a 15-13 win.
Saturday night appeared headed in the same direction as the Golden Bears moved the ball on a depleted Oregon defense. The Ducks played without a host of starters on its defensive front, at times playing a lineup comprised almost entirely of true freshmen.
California pulled within 24-17 five minutes into the second half, but Oregon's youth carried the day. The defense shutout California for the rest of the night and redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota threw four touchdown passes over a 10 minute span to put the game out of reach. Oregon 59, California 17.
While the final score may have indicated a typical night for Oregon, the route used to get there was very atypical, especially on defense.
"I'd say it was a very gratifying win," said Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti. "I don't believe any of our starting defensive linemen except for Taylor Hart played. We played with a lot of young guys and a lot of guys that played on our scout team. There were some tough times there but they pulled it out.
"It's very gratifying because in the grand scheme of things I thought those kids did an outstanding job," Aliotti continued. "They scored 17 points, we got three turnovers and our offense continues to be incredible."
Anyone who has watched Oregon play this season knows there's much more to the Ducks than a flashy offense, and the depth displayed on Saturday further illustrates that point.
"You can't worry about it.," Alotti said when asked what he thought when the injuries began mounting. "There's no waiver wire. The next guy in has to step up and play."
Oregon will put Saturday's lessons to immediate use as the powerful rushing attack of Stanford is next on the schedule.
Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com reported Friday that, according to former Oregon head coach Mike Bellotti, it is "inevitable" that Kelly will one day jump from Oregon to a head coaching position in the NFL.
As we know, last year Kelly accepted the head coaching job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before changing his mind and staying at Oregon.
“It's just inevitable that he will eventually be in the NFL,” Bellotti said. “Chip is one of the ultimate competitors and he sees that. It actually surprised me he changed his mind [with the Bucs] last year."
Dodd also spoke with an anonymous source who stated, "There are nine chances in 10 if he wins out [this season] he's gone."
Kelly took over for Bellotti in 2009 after Bellotti to a dozen bowl games in 14 years as the Ducks head coach. Bellotti hired Kelly away from New Hampshire to serve as the Ducks' offensive coordinator for the final two seasons of Bellotti's tenure before Kelly was promoted to head coach after Bellotti's retirement. In his fourth season at the helm, Kelly is 43-6 at Oregon while closing in on his fourth conference championship with hopes of appearing in his second BCS National Championship.
When asked if Oregon could keep Kelly out of the NFL again, Dodd's source had this to say: "I don't think so. I wish we could. He's a friend. I want him to be happy. I would like to think he's got the best college football job in America. He clearly has all the tools that one could ever need.”
Or, as Bellotti put it, “Once you get to the top of the mountain, there's one other mountain for him to climb."
Plenty of coaches across the nation did outstanding jobs in preparing their teams to play, but the group below shined above the rest to win our Coaches of the Week for Week 10 of the college football season.
Head Coach of the Week - Mark Hudspeth, Louisiana - Lafayette: Hudspeth's team became the first squad outside the Big 12 and SEC to defeat ULM with a 40-24 win on Saturday, snapping a two-game losing streak to their intrastate rivals. The 24 points was a season-low for the Warhawks, while the Ragin' Cajuns became the first Sun Belt team to drop 40 points on ULM in regulation since 2009. Quarterback Terrance Broadway was an efficient 23-of-32 for 373 yards and four touchdowns with one interception, while Hudsepth's team controlled the line of scrimmage by out-rushing ULM 234-74. The win moved ULL one victory away from a second straight bowl berth and just one game back of first place in the Sun Belt.
Offensive Staff of the Week - LSU: Credit must be given to Oregon for putting up school records (and USC opponent records) with 62 points and 730 yards, but this week we recognize the work of Greg Studrawa and LSU's offensive coaches. The Tigers offense outperformed even the loftiest expectations against college football's top total, scoring, passing and pass efficiency defense. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger played his best game as a collegian, connecting on 24-of-35 passes for 298 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. Running back Jeremy Hill became just the fifth opponent in Nick Saban's tenure at Alabama to run for 100 yards against the Crimson Tide (29 carries, 107 yards, one touchdown). The Tigers moved the ball consistently on Alabama by refusing to leave the field. They were successful on 10-of-20 third downs and ran 85 plays, which adds up to 39:15 time of possession, allowing the Tigers to penetrate for two touchdowns and three field goal attempts.
The last team to put up 435 or more yards of offense against Alabama? That would be LSU -- in 2007.
Defensive Staff of the Week - UCLA: One week after slicing and dicing the USC defense to the tune of 588 yards and 39 points, the Arizona offense compiled just 257 yards and 10 points in a 66-10 shellacking by UCLA. The Bruins held the Pac-12's leading passer Matt Scott to a season-low 124 yards on 15-of-25 attempts. Defensive coordinator Lou Spanos' unit limited Arizona to 3-of-14 on third down, a season-worst 18 first downs, recovered three fumbles and forced seven punts. It did not surrender a touchdown until midway through the third quarter with the Bruins nursing a 42-point lead. The UCLA coaching staff decided to wear war paint on the sidelines and if Saturday's results are any indication, Bruins football just got itself a new tradition.
Special Teams Unit of the Week - San Diego State: Special teams keyed a historic win for San DIego State on Saturday night, 21-19 over Boise State. In defeating Boise State 21-19 on Saturday night, the Aztecs earned the program's first win over an AP top 20 team away from home. Colin Lockett opened the game with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. That play stood as San Diego State's only offense until Dwayne Garrett blocked a punt in Broncos territory and returned it to the 8-yard line. Two plays later, San Diego State had its second touchdown of the day and a lead it would not relinquish.
Call of the Week - Butch Jones and Mike Bajakian, Cincinnati: A few weeks ago in this space we promised that any time a coach goes for two and the win late in a game would receive automatic Call of the Week honors, so respect must be given to Gary Patterson and TCU for doing just that in their 39-38 win in double overtime at West Virginia. But this award goes to head coach Butch Jones and Mike Bajakian for doing what no staff has done - calling a jump pass in the middle of the field. Jump passes entered national consciousness with Tim Tebow at Florida in 2006, and we've even seen some running backs execute the play in recent years but the play had exclusively been used as a goal line tactic until Saturday. Trailing Syracuse 10-7 and facing a 4th and 2, Cincinnati opened the second quarter with a simple hand off to tailback George Winn. As Winn approached the line of scrimmage he sprung in the air and found Travis Kelce all alone behind the defense for a 37-yard touchdown. Cincinnati would go on to defeat Syracuse, 35-24.
Here's the highlight video that Oregon watched before taking the field last weekend against Arizona State. The Ducks didn't need any second half points and rolled to a 43-21 victory.
If they put up 43 in a half after getting hyped up with this video before last weekend's game, we can only imagine what the highlight video for Saturday's match up with Colorado had in it (the Ducks were up 56-0 at the half and rolled to a 70-14 win).
Try to count how many times announcers use the word "speed", or any variation of it in the clip.
Tomorrow night, Colorado will face the best offense that they've seen all season when they travel to Oregon to take on the Ducks.
That's not to say that the past few weeks have been easy. In their past three outings, the Colorado defense has faced Arizona State (23rd nationally in total offense), UCLA (top 25 nationally in rushing, passing, and total offense), and a very talented USC offense with Matt Barkley, Robert Woods, and Marqise Lee.
Through the first seven weeks of their schedule, Colorado is giving up nearly 500 yards per contest (112th nationally) and 43 points (119th nationally), and has also allowed 133 plays of over ten yards (119th nationally).
With this week's game coming against one of the highest powered offenses in the country, head coach Jon Embree was asked how they are simulating Oregon's speed.
"But the tempo of the offense, I think we've done a good job simulating that." Embree said.
The tempo tomorrow will be unlike anything that Colorado has seen so far this season. The defense has been on the field for an average of 71 plays per game, and Oregon is coming into the game averaging 83 snaps per game, and producing 51 points per game off of those snaps (2nd nationally). And if you've watched Oregon this season, you know any one of those 83 snaps can go for six at any moment.
Kickoff is scheduled for 3pm ET on the Pac 12 Network.
Every college head coach has their own way of dealing with commitments from recruits. Some coaches allow recruits (who have already committed to them) to still go on their other official visits, while many other programs have a no visit policy in effect after a commitment is made.
Lane Kiffin is one of the coaches who still allow commits to visit other schools.
"I don't discourage it at all. I have a rare stance on it. I just think some of these kids never have an opportunity like that. To fly around the country and visit different places and meet new people whether it's other recruits or other coaches." Kiffin explained.
"I let our kids go visit all over the place, our commits. I know that's rare nowadays. I don't think it's my job, I don't think I'm in a position to be limiting kids' abilities to take free trips around the country and see different parts of the country and meet new people."
Chip Kelly on the other hand, views a commitment in a very different light.
"We talk to our guys about what a commitment is. We're going to make a commitment to you it's the same thing as us not pulling a scholarship when you make a commitment to us" Kelly said. "There's got to be a two-way street. I think our players understand what being committed means here."
Although their views are polar opposites, both coaches and their staffs manage to bring in some of the top talent in the country on a consistent basis. There's no doubt it helps to have a clear and consistent message from top to bottom.
For Rich Rodriguez, recognizing the difference between interest and commitment is something that him and his staff have recently zeroed in on.
"When a guy wants to commit to us we make sure that he understands what that means. If you have a guy who's committed to you but he's making a bunch of visits to other places you wonder if he's truly committed or just interested. That's the key for us."
"If a guy is taking it to have fun and he tells you that up front that's one thing but if they're taking the visit they must have some kind of interest in another school and that puts you in a tough situation because you may have dropped some other guys or moved off some other guys and then all of a sudden you lose this guy in the end."
At Arizona, the staff understands that if a recruit is going to continue to take his visits, don't be surprised if he de-commits. It all goes back to recognizing that difference between interest and commitment.
"If a guy is committed to you and he's visiting other places and all of a sudden he changes his commitment or something like that, I don't know why a coach would be surprised because he's visiting other schools so there aren't as many surprises as you'd think."
We understand that every level of college recruiting is very different. But each of those coaches (Lane Kiffin, Chip Kelly, and Rich Rodriguez) have helped sign a top ten recruiting class at some point in the coaching careers, and have all done it with very different approaches. The lesson is to find something specific to your level of football, and making it something that you all can buy into as a staff. At the end of the day you'll start to see the results of a consistent message.