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At Oregon, it's all about moving quickly and saving time

CHRIS DUFRESNE / ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

No. 1 Ducks never stop moving, especially during practice, under Coach Chip Kelly.

October 20, 2010|Chris Dufresne

Wind sprints are not a part of conditioning because practice is a wind sprint.

"There are freshmen who when they come in here, they just blow a gasket," Kelly said. "They can't keep up. They just have to catch up. We will never slow down to bring those kids along."

Practice is divided into five-minute segments of revolving action in every nook and cranny on the field. The music varies among rock, rap and country. Monday's practice included a snippet of Indian music, transitioning to the rhythmic pulses of "Circle of Life," from "The Lion King."

This number was handpicked by Kelly.

"I love that song," he explained later.

The week of the Arizona State game, Van Halen's "Running With the Devil" destroyed eardrums, and the practices preceding the trip to Tennessee had players going loopy with the loop of "Rocky Top."

At 9:25 on Monday, scrimmaging began.

"Hustle!" Kelly screamed. "Hustle!"

The first-team defense practiced against the scout team, which was dressed in UCLA powder-blue jerseys.

The scout team center hunched over a Nerf ball and simulated snaps to the quarterback, who had the real ball in hand. Kelly says a bad snap by the center would waste precious seconds. Two bad snaps a day could cost you eight lost plays a week.

The scout team defense included student managers with giant fly swatters taped to their bodies to offer visual obstructions to the quarterback's passing lane.

The first-team offense moved at whirlwind pace, taking play-call cues off of large cardboard cutouts divided into quadrants. The pictures vary from a snapshot of the state of Louisiana to a photo of ESPN host Neil Everett (an Oregon grad).

Student managers were dressed in referee jerseys, with players being taught after each play to rush the ball back to the official.

Receivers do not chase incomplete passes.

"There's efficiency in everything," Kelly said.

In one drill, the ball was moved from one hash mark to the next, 10 yards down field, and the next play started within five seconds of the ball being dead.

"At first it was very frustrating as a defensive coordinator," Aliotti said, "because I couldn't get a call in."

Several coaches have visited Oregon to study this speed symphony. Jon Gruden recently told the New York Times he wanted to move to Eugene and spend a season watching Kelly's offense, though Gruden's wife could not be sold on the idea.

The goal of Oregon practices is to make the game, by comparison, seem like shuffleboard.

"When you practice that fast, it's easy to slow down," Kelly explained. "But it's hard to speed up."

During games, Kelly implores the officials to spot the ball as quickly as possible.

"Give us the tempo and pace we need to play with," Kelly said. "By and large they're pretty good."

Kelly says he's going to keep pushing until he reaches the breaking point.

How much faster can he go?

"I think that is what you're trying to find out," he said.

chris.dufresne@latimes.com

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