Commentary

Top 25 Intel: No. 11 Oregon

Ducks coach thinks offense, D-line will mask secondary shortcomings

Originally Published: June 19, 2009
By Chris Sprow | ESPN Insider
Donald Miralle/Getty ImagesBlount force: With a 1,000-yard rusher back, the Ducks' offense should be scary once more.

If you talk to Chip Kelly, the new head coach at Oregon, you never worry that perhaps you accidentally called Lou Holtz instead. It's the difference between the two in salesmanship and optimism. Give Holtz the Taj Mahal and he'd complain about the cleaning bill. Give Kelly a burning outhouse and he'd call it warm and cozy.

Oregon's football team this year is somewhere between those extremes. It could be oversold or undersold, depending on what -- or whom -- you want to believe. Kelly, for one, believes in the positive.

"I think of a case where before last season a reporter said, 'Well, there's no way they can do what they did in his first season, and average 467 yards a game."' The team had lost Dennis Dixon and Jonathan Stewart from his offense in Eugene, Kelly says. "And after last season, I said, 'Yeah, you're right, we didn't. We averaged 485 yards per game.'"

In doing so, during his second year as offensive coordinator under longtime coach Mike Bellotti, Oregon led the Pac-10 in offense, and after running into serious injury issues with their quarterbacks -- they were pulling people out of the student section to play in a painfully close loss to Boise State that may have kept them out of the BCS mix -- Kelly made his offense into the best rushing team in the country.

Really.

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