Below is a transcript of comments made Sunday morning by Oregon head football coach Chip Kelly during a news conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, as the Ducks prepare to play Auburn on Monday in the BCS College Football Championship game.
THE MODERATOR: We will take an opening statement from Coach Kelly.
COACH KELLY: From me? Wow. Haven't heard enough? Game is tomorrow night. Let's go play.
Q. After all the preparation, what is something they feel they have to do in the game to win tomorrow night? I got answers all over the board from them. What's your answer to that question?
COACH KELLY: There is a lot of things we have to do. Defensively, obviously, it is run to the ball and tackle. It is going to come to a game of fundamentals. Offensively we have to be able to control their front four. And obviously the turnover game is going to be huge. Whoever wins that turnover battle is probably going to win the game.
Q. You know this team -- your team more than anybody. What do you expect to see them do tomorrow?
COACH KELLY: I expect them to go out there and cut it loose, have fun playing football.
Q. I asked Gene the same question. There has been some controversy this bowl season over the excessive celebration rule, particularly the Kansas State-Syracuse game. How much have you emphasized that, if at all, this week and any concern you have about that happening in the game?
COACH KELLY: I don't have a concern. We talked to our players all the time about the situations that occur. And if you can use what happened in the Kansas State game as a teachable moment, we talk to our players about it.
But we tell our kids they should celebrate as a team. You are not supposed to have undue -- people looking at just an individual, because it is a team game. So I don't anticipate that being a problem. But we have addressed that with the team.
Q. The rule states if you sub offensively that the ref has to stand over the ball and give Auburn a chance to sub. And Gene said he was going to make that a big part of the conversation with officials. Conversely, are you concerned that they may slow the game down too much?
COACH KELLY: No, because we don't sub. When we want to play fast, we know the rules. If we are trying to play at a fast tempo, we are not trying to sub in those situations. We understand the rules. And I'm sure the officials do, too.
Q. You addressed offense and defense. Could you also address special teams and in particular the return game and its ability to determine field position?
COACH KELLY: That's a good question. Obviously, the hidden yardage usually occurs in the special teams game. We've had a tremendous group so far this year kick-off return and punt return. We spend a lot of time in practice. We spend a lot of times in meetings. We have got some dynamic returners.
It will be an interesting matchup. That battle I think there could be a determining factor in the game, is how well do we defend them in their return game and how well do they defend us in our return game.
Q. Is your team in the same -- what kind of place is it in as compared to last year before the Rose Bowl as far as your preparation? Has it been different? Have things been different before the game as far as the way you prepared them?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, they have. We're a year older. We had, I think, 18 starters back from last year's team. So everybody -- not only as a team, but in life you are a byproduct of your experiences.
The fact we have played in a game of that stature like the Rose Bowl, hopefully we can learn from that, the good and the bad. I think our kids a little bit more mature. I watched them and the season went along. There wasn't a huge celebration at the end of it. It was still about we have another game to play.
I think maybe we were happy to get there this year. Now we have to see if we can do the next step and actually win the game.
Q. Can you talk about what the mind-set of this team is? Is it any different from all the other games? And even if it isn't or is, what is the mind-set?
COACH KELLY: I think the one great thing about our team is that their mind-set has been very consistent all season long. No matter who our opponent is. We talk about faceless opponents. We obviously always prepare against their schemes and what they do. We don't really get caught up in anything besides that. And our guys have had the same mind-set for 12 games. And through this preparation for this game, it is the exact same thing. It is about what we do, how we execute. And we control that. I think they're right where they need to be right now.
Q. In your opinion, why is it so difficult for defenses in practice to simulate or mimic what your offense does? What are the characteristics of your offense that make it so difficult to do?
COACH KELLY: Obviously we play pretty fast. It's hard for everybody, though. I think that's the nature of the sport. We can't simulate Cam Newton. No one can. No one has a scout player that can simulate him.
I think it's tough to get your scouts, your freshmen, your redshirted freshman to execute an offensive look at a highest level possible. And that's a hard thing for anybody. I don't care if you are Auburn trying to simulate us or us trying to simulate them. Are we going to block it the exact same way? Is our scout quarterback going to give them the same look that Cam is going to give them? I think it is difficult on both sides of the ball just because no one has scout players that are good enough to really give you exactly the speed and tempo that we practice at.
Also, how do you simulate Kenjon Barner and Darron Thomas and LaMichael James. It is the same for both teams.
Q. Coach, can you talk a little bit about what Nate Costa has meant for the program this year and how is his recovery going at this stage?
COACH KELLY: Nate was one of the real leaders of our football team. Obviously he had an injury in the Washington game. He has been rehabbing just like he has done everything in his life, full speed.
He is just a great role model for all of our players. He has faced a lot of adversity. To have three ACLs, I don't know who would bounce back from that. But he's probably one of the most mentally tough young men I have ever been around in my life. And he is a great example. His attitude and his approach to everything is, hey, I got to setback, battle through it. He is a great person where I can point to some young people in our teams that may be down in the dumps or have a sniffle and say, hey, look at me, look how he approaches life.
He has been fantastic. We are here because of our leadership, and Nate's one of our best leaders.
Q. Is there a chance that he will get in the game tomorrow night, even for a field goal play? Is there a chance?
COACH KELLY: Nate doesn't kick field goals. We haven't even talked about that. I know he put the pads on this week and was throwing the ball around. We have no plans of using Nate.
Q. We talked with Gene about their team's eight come-from-behind wins. You also had a handful of comeback wins and a couple of really impressive ones. What is it about your team that allowed it had to stay so poised during those times of rallying?
COACH KELLY: A lot is made of that. But I think there is no team that gets to this point in time where they weren't behind at some point during the season. That's what the game of football is all about.
I think it gets overanalyzed at times. We played some really good opponents. Auburn has played some really good opponents. Our whole mantra is finish and that you have to play the full 60 minutes. You are going to face deficits in certain games. We don't play to the scoreboard. We play to what's the next snap and really go down to focus on what's the next play and how can I make that play as successful as I possibly can and pick your head up at the end of the game and see if you won.
Q. This is obviously the biggest stage in college football. But game plan is done. Practice is done. And typical Chip Kelly fashion you will find a way to get your guys to understand this is a game of football we have been playing since we were young again. Anything exciting to loosen the guys up? Movie? I know you got something planned to say, hey, this is just football. Is there something special tonight?
COACH KELLY: No. I think if I did something special, our guys would think it was crazy. It is right that you are saying it is still a football game. There was nothing more evident to our players than yesterday after practice I sat there and I said this could be the game of your life and all these other things.
Then we got a chance to meet four kids from the Make-a-Wish Foundation. You tell your kids you are playing the game of your life and you've got four kids that are battling for their lives and all they want to do is meet our team. So I think it put it into perspective for our players.
Q. You are very innovative and forward-thinking. If you were in charge of college football, is there any rule you would want changed? Or is it perfect the way it is?
COACH KELLY: That's a good question, and I think one of the things that makes me a really good forward-thinker is I only worry about my job. I'm not in charge of college football and I got no plans on doing that for a while, so I will just take care of my team.
Q. Win or lose tomorrow, do you feel like you've prepared this team as well as you possibly could over the time you've had?
COACH KELLY: I have no idea to that. Depends on how the game comes out and do the situations come up in the game that we didn't cover. I don't know. That's the unknown factor. And you are always going to analyze when you're done. We are going to go back just like we do in every game and say how can we do this better. So we'll see.
Q. The fact you were here, does that mean the BCS works?
COACH KELLY: I got no idea, seriously. I don't worry about things I have no control over. We're playing against Cam Newton, and I'm worried about trying to tackle him than straighten out what seem people consider right, not right. I don't know. Just tell me the rules of the game are and I will play by it.
Let me put it this way: I don't agree with the speed limit, but I got to follow it. (Smiling).
Q. Much has been made about the SEC success in this game. Are you aware of that? What do you think about conference success in this particular game? Does it have any carryover whatsoever?
COACH KELLY: We never get caught up in that. We are not playing for the Pac-10. They are not -- in my opinion, they are not playing for the SEC. It is Auburn versus Oregon. I don't think you can look at past successes and say, hey, this conference did this, this conference did this. You have no idea. Two years ago we went 5-0 in bowl games in the Pac-10 and everybody talked about us, and last year we didn't do a real good job. So I think it's a cyclical thing and each team is their own entity.
We are not playing for the Pac-10. I can tell you that. We're playing for Oregon. It is Oregon versus Auburn. We never let outside influences -- I will never stand up in front of me team and say we are carrying the flag for nine other teams or whatever. We are worried about just our team and our preparation.
Q. After your first game as a head coach, I think the Boise State game, a fan wrote you letter complaining about the product and you refunded his ticket price or the cost for him going to Boise. I'm wondering if he has refunded your refund at this point now that you are in the BCS title game?
COACH KELLY: I will say the same thing I said all along on that. No comment.
Q. You talk often about preparing against division. How specific were you about talking about being here, if at all, as being the end result of division and, if at all, did you feel like you came close to coming off track at any point in the last four months during the regular season?
COACH KELLY: When we talk about a vision, there is never a game or it is this. It is what it looks like and what it has to be like. Our basic premise is that if you are going to stand for something, whether it is in life or as a team or as an Oregon, someone should be able to look at you guys for five minutes and say, yeah, you do. We stand for three things: playing fast, playing hard, and finishing. We've done it with 12 opportunities.
That's what our vision is. Our vision has not to do with championships. Our vision has nothing to do with getting a crystal ball or rings. It is about playing the game. That's what we have done all along, and that's what our vision is.
Q. Given the five weeks of preparation and given how fast you play, how fast they play, is this first quarter going to be any different? Do you anticipate the feeling-out process to be any different than in a normal game?
COACH KELLY: I think the feeling-out process is just more of getting a familiarity with how they've determined they are going to defend us and how we are going to defend them.
When you have two unique offenses, it is difficult for you to look at something and say, hey, they have faced this before. This is what they are going to give us. And that's what happens in every game we play, is that -- because what we do is unique on offense, we can break down all 13 games and say, hey, this is what we anticipate the look is going to be, but it may not be that look. It is probably the same thing for Gus and his offense because his offense is so unique.
I don't think he's going to look at any team that we play -- Cal, Arizona, Arizona State -- and say, hey, this is how they are going to defend us because they're a different operation.
So I think that's what the first quarter -- there is a feeling-out process, but it is more about just getting familiar with what do they implement for a game plan and what do we implement for a game plan.
Q. I think you guys are walking through the stadium today. What will you go over with your guys when you are over there?
COACH KELLY: What's the field like, what are your cleats like, get a photo. Seriously, that's all we're doing there. We are going to practice at the high school right now, though. So we will practice at the high school and do that. When we go to the stadium, it is just get -- it is a walkabout.
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