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ROSE BOWL FYI

Oregon, Ohio State take different approaches on practice field

While Buckeyes keep their drills quiet and low-key, Ducks use loud music to keep their players moving at a quick tempo.

December 29, 2009|By Kevin Baxter
  • Oregon Coach Chip Kelly, on the sidelines during the Stanford game, is keeping things loose as the Ducks practice for the Rose Bowl game.
Oregon Coach Chip Kelly, on the sidelines during the Stanford game, is keeping… (Kyle Terada / US Presswire )

Friday's Rose Bowl shapes up as a clash of styles, with Oregon's free-wheeling offense, which averaged nearly 38 points a game, taking on Ohio State's stingy defense, which gave up an average of only 12 points.

But there's an even bigger contrast between the teams' practice fields, which are just a few hundred yards apart at the Home Depot Center in Carson.

While Buckeyes Coach Jim Tressel runs a tight ship, allowing few visitors to watch his team drill, Ducks Coach Chip Kelly invited nearly four dozen children from a local Boys & Girls Club to Oregon's workout on Monday.

And while the Ohio State sideline is so quiet you can hear coaches give instructions in voices barely louder than a whisper, Oregon's is like a nightclub, with six large speakers pouring out an eclectic mix of music at ear-splitting levels.

Seventh-ranked Oregon (10-2) started practicing to music during training camp and found it helped keep players moving at a quick tempo, which is how the Ducks play on game day.

"We kind of practice at a higher pace than most teams," said Andy McNamara, the school's assistant director of sports information.

The playlist is a mix of everything from country to hip-hop, though it includes standard sports-rock anthems such as AC/DC's "T.N.T," Queen's "We Are the Champions" and "Gonna Fly Now," the theme from "Rocky."

Senior moment

A win on New Year's Day would make Ohio State's 19-member senior class the winningest in school history, with 44 victories. A loss would make it the first senior class in nearly two decades never to win a bowl game.

That's a difference the entire team is taking seriously.

"From my standpoint, and for the Buckeyes' and the seniors' standpoint, we must win," sophomore quarterback Terrelle Pryor said. "It's not a maybe win or something like that. We must win.

"We need it for Coach Tressel. We need it for the staff. . . . It's huge."

Eighth-ranked Ohio State (10-2) has played in a bowl in all nine of Tressel's seasons in Columbus, three times reaching the Bowl Championship Series title game. But the Buckeyes haven't won a postseason game since the 2006 Fiesta Bowl.

Lots of defense

Oregon's quick-strike offense is so efficient that nearly a quarter of the Ducks' scoring drives took less than three minutes -- and 13 times they scored in less than 69 seconds. Therefore, Oregon's defense spends a lot of time on the field.

In fact, defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti said his unit was on the field for more plays than any team in the nation last season, and it ranked near the top again this fall.

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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