The Oregon Ducks football team is back to work, as Thursday marked the first practice in Arizona for Chip Kelly‘s squad. Team practices will continue throughout the week. Tomorrow, Kansas State arrives just before noon at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, where head coach Bill Snyder will address the media. Oregon’s practice Friday morning will be open to media for the first 15 minutes, marking the first time an Oregon practice hasn’t been closed all season. Kansas State will host their first practice Friday afternoon. The practice will be closed to the media.
On Saturday, Oregon offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich, along with select offensive players including Kenjon Barner and Marcus Mariota will be available to the media. Defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti, and select defensive players including Michael Clay and Dion Jordan will be available to media on Sunday.
Both teams will host their media day on December 21. All coaches and players will be in attendance.
After practice, Kelly spoke to reporters about preparing to face Heisman finalist Collin Klein, the Kansas State defense, and the winning culture that he has helped create at Oregon.
Q: How did the first practice in Arizona go?
A: “It was good to get back out on the field. I thought our guys were real attentive. We’ve been together for a while. They know how to practice. They know what’s expected of them and I was real impressed with them for the first day back after a couple of days off.”
Q: How do you prepare for Kansas State QB Collin Klein? Do you use a tight end to simulate Klein’s size and running ability?
A: “Jake Rodrigues is doing a good job for us imitating Collin as good as he can. I think if you just put a tight end in there then you’re not going to be able to throw the ball the way you want to throw the ball, because he can do it both, and that’s what makes him such a dangerous player.”
Q: What impresses you about K-State’s defense?
A: “How well they tackle in space. They get off of blocks and they tackle extremely well in space. They don’t miss many tackles, and again they are extremely fundamentally sound. You’re really, really impressed when you watch how well they tackle in space.”
Q: Does the winning culture you’ve created at Oregon increase the number of players willing to take on leadership roles?
A: “That’s a good question. I’ve never thought of that. No, but I think the culture we created from a leadership standpoint encourages leadership amongst the group. I think winning is just a byproduct of a good culture, but I don’t think it’s just because you’re winning it creates that.”
Stay tuned for continued Fiesta Bowl coverage from the EDN Sports crew. Ducks beat writers Sean Larson, Conor Armor, and sports editor Alex Shoemaker will be in Arizona to bring you live, up-to-the-minute coverage from practices, press conferences, and the 42nd annual Tostitos Fiesta Bowl between Kansas State and Oregon on January 3.