Ducks' fast-paced attack sure to attract imitation

2010-11-25T00:00:00Z 2012-11-30T19:17:49Z Ducks' fast-paced attack sure to attract imitationPatrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
November 25, 2010 12:00 am  • 

Whenever Chip Kelly's season ends - he hopes it's the day after his Oregon Ducks play for the national title - the phone calls will undoubtedly come, an avalanche of coaches looking to pick his brain.

It's a professional courtesy in college football. Just as Kelly once studied the NCAA's great offenses while a Division I-AA coach, he knows others will travel to Eugene, Ore., to examine the nation's highest-scoring offense.

"The greatest compliment an offense can get is the entire coaching fraternity to spend an off-season studying it," UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel said. "I promise you, this off-season, probably 50, 75 percent of the coaching staffs are going to try to figure out exactly what Oregon's doing."

With good reason.

The Pac-10 has never seen an offense like Oregon's "Blur."

The Ducks, who host the Arizona Wildcats on Friday, average a nation-best 50.7 points per game, the most in the history of the Pac-10.

And only the 2005 USC team - with stars Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush and LenDale White - averaged more than the Ducks' 542.2 yards per game.

Since the league expanded from eight to 10 teams in 1978, only two Pac-10 teams have ever rushed for more than Oregon's 291.1 yards per game. The leader, the 1981 Trojans, averaged 299.4 on the legs of Marcus Allen's Heisman Trophy-winning season.

Two of the architects of the 2005 USC team, which averaged a stunning 49.1 points, see the similarities.

"There's a real sense of confidence, a real sense of belief," said Washington coach Steve Sarkisian, who was a USC assistant in 2005.

Lane Kiffin, USC's current head coach and the 2005 offensive coordinator, said there are "some similarities as far as production, when you look at the yards and the points and the way they're finishing games, especially in the second half and fourth quarters."

The Ducks spread offense has outscored foes 87-7 in the fourth quarter, fortified by a pace never before seen in college football.

Oregon practices for only about 1 1/2 hours daily and can run more than 30 plays in 10 minutes.

"Whether people enjoy what we do or don't enjoy what we do, it just fits for our personnel in terms of how we run it," Kelly said. "If me running the clock down to 1 second gave us an opportunity to win a football game, then we'd do that every game, too."

Oregon opponents have been accused all season of faking injuries simply to catch their breath.

"I'm still not used to how fast it is," said Ducks running back LaMichael James, who leads the nation with 158 rushing yards and 12 points per game. "Tempo really is a big key for us."

The Ducks' running lanes, marvels of Pac-10 coaches, are created by formations, wide lineman splits and good blocking.

"It seems like they're playing on a bigger field than the rest of us," Neuheisel said.

The rest of the nation wants the same advantage.

Kelly knows he needs to keep the coaching throng organized this off-season. He plans to schedule days specifically for out-of-town coaches so he can focus on his team the rest of the time.

By this time next year, more teams will run their version of the "Blur." And they'll likely be better equipped to stop it.

Imitation is one thing; running it as perfectly as Oregon is another.

"A lot of people see that it works," quarterback Darron Thomas said. "So I don't blame them."

Up next

• What: Arizona at Oregon

• When: 5 p.m. Friday

• TV, radio: ESPN, 1290-AM, 107.5-FM

Historically great

Oregon's offense is on pace to finish the season at or near the top of the Pac-10 record book since the league's 1978 expansion:

Total offense

2005 USC 579.8

2010 Oregon 542.2

1997 Washington St. 502.2

Points per game

2010 Oregon 50.7

2005 USC 49.1

1996 Arizona State 42.8

Rushing yards per game

1981 USC 299.4

1993 Oregon State 297.7

2010 Oregon 291.1

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