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July 26, 2011
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
COACH KELLY: Appreciate being here. This is a great day to start for kind of the kickoff for all of our coaches. Obviously, I know the one question everybody is waiting to have answered is we sent out a release earlier concerning on -- we have great respect for the NCAA in terms of their review and examination of our use of recruiting services and we've cooperated fully with them and will continue to cooperate with them.
We've also asked an outside law firm to conduct a review of our situation and produce a report that we'll make public. When those reports are public we'd love to talk about the situation, but we're kind of bound by that right now.
So as head coach of this program and of this football program, we're held accountable for everything we do. So we look forward to when we can. I'd love to talk about it. There are a lot of answers I'd love to make sure we can get out there. So with that, we're excited about the 2011 season. I'd like to commend the media that covers this conference, because I think you're the smartest ones out there. You picked us to win the league, and what I just learned out back is that 10 out of the last 11 years you picked us to win the league. So I guess our answer to that question is we hope you're right.
We're a young football team. We have about 11 seniors on our football team. We graduated a tremendous amount of kids last year that had great character and understood what our football program was about and how we played the game.
We've got some good seniors coming back. David's one of them. David's here, he's an All Pac-10 tight end, he's an academic, All Pac-10 tight end. He graduated last winter with a 3.6 GPA. He's currently enrolled in our Masters of Business program. He's everything you want in an Oregon football player. We're excited through David's leadership.
Even though we're a young football team, I looked at our roster coming in here, and I think we have 11 or 12 seniors, and we'll have 47 either freshmen or red shirted freshmen.
It's a good time for us. We're excited. We start on August 8, and we have an interesting game to start the season on September 3rd that has every one of our players attention, and we'll work as hard as we can to prepare for that game on September 3rd against a really, really good LSU team. So with that we'll open it up to questions.
Q. Regardless what the findings may yield, there have been some recruits and I've read reports that express concerns about potential sanctions and stuff like that. To what extent has that become an issue that you've had to address in recruiting?
COACH KELLY: I haven't had to address it with the recruits right now. We're coming off back-to-back Pac-10 championships as we move into a brand-new league with a brand-new television contract, it's a bright future for us. We had a berth in the Rose Bowl, we had a berth in the National Championship Game. And I understand from the kids we've talked to, our recruit something going very, very well.
Q. You just talk a little bit about how big the return of LaMichael James coming back does to your offense?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, LaMichael is the returning Doak Walker Award winner as the nation's number one running back. I've always believed that to win football games you have to be able to run the football. And we've led the Pac-10 in rushing in the last four years. Total offense the last four years, scoring offense the last four years, and LaMichael's a huge part of that.
We've had a great tradition of running backs in the four years that I've been there, but LaMichael is a special, special player. The one thing we're excited about is we feel like we have two. You put LaMichael with Kenjon Barner you can take LaMichael out of the game and put Kenjon in the game, and we really don't lose anything. We think that tandem could match up with everybody in the country.
Q. A lot of the focus has been on what the coaches have to say and what your AD Mullens has had to say. From a player's standpoint with all this swirling around the program, is it affecting you guys at all as far as players and the way you're approaching the season or having to deal with the media?
DAVID PAULSEN: No, I don't think it's really affected us as players. We're really just focused on getting better this summer. Working hard in the weight room, doing some 7 on 7, trying to come together as a team and getting ready for this upcoming season.
Q. Chip, is the status of Cliff Harris or Kiko Alonzo changed? What is the earliest those guys can play at this point?
COACH KELLY: Their status hasn't changed. We're not with our players in the summertime, so we'll meet with them when we get back, and like anybody that I have to deal with in those situations, they have academic and behavioral things that they have to get accomplished and we'll deal with as it comes.
I really can't tell you at this point in time what their status is except they're working out with our team and doing things right now. We'll figure out where that fits as we move forward during the season.
Q. You said you guys have announced that Cliff is suspended for opener. Have you made a decision is Kiko going to play in that first game?
COACH KELLY: No, I haven't made any decisions on Kiko. There are a lot of answers that we need to get before we make any of those decisions.
Q. What one question would you like to answer but can't to the ongoing NCAA investigation? You like how I did that?
COACH KELLY: That was really good.
I'd love to answer all the questions, to be honest with you, and we will at the appropriate time when the report from the outside law firm is made public. I'd like to talk about the whole situation and clear up a lot of misconceptions.
Q. Coach, Lache Seastrunk is at the center of the investigation. What do you expect from him this season as a lay player?
COACH KELLY: Lache's growing as a football player. We need to figure out who our third running back is, and as we came out of the spring we still don't know that. He'll be in competition. We have two young freshmen that will compete with him, and a couple other kid that's he competed with in spring practice.
But that's a huge question mark, and we do have some questions because of graduation at some certain positions. And one of those questions is who is our third running back behind Kenjon and LaMichael?
Q. You said shortly after the story broke that you were to longer doing business with Will Lyles. Has this changed how you've gone about recruiting in this process? I'm not asking about the investigation. But have you changed your philosophy and practice when it deals with scouting services?
COACH KELLY: No, and I know you have to ask the question, and we have. We'll move forward. I think some of the recommendations that we'll get from this outside firm and some of our best practices going forward.
Q. What is your message to the fans who may be waiting and wondering and worried about what's going to happen with this investigation?
COACH KELLY: I think we have the best fans in all of college football and you can come to the stadium to witness it yourself. But the support I've gotten from the fans through today have been tremendous. The emails that are sent to me, the people that I see on the streets, we're excited about the 2011 season, and I hope we have a lot of them that show up September 3rd at LSU.
Q. Can you talk a little about your latest recruit with De'Anthony Thomas and what made you go after him? What did you see in him?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, De'Anthony can run. He can flat out run. He is a speed kid. Just jumped off the tape.
I know a little while ago we were actually watching another player in the spring time, and we're looking at a linebacker. Our coaches were watching the tape, and we're talking about recruits for next year. Everybody remarked, who is the running back on the other team that's just ripping them? And I said thank goodness for us that kid's coming here and he's going to be on our campus in June.
David's seen him. We haven't been around for any of the workouts. I know David told me he's really, really fast. So I believe it's our coach's job to figure out a way to see if we can get him the football.
Q. My question is about Darron Thomas the quarterback. How good is he in the conference of quarterbacks and is there a ceiling on how good he can be?
COACH KELLY: You know, I don't know if there's a ceiling with Darron. I know obviously to do what he did in his first year as a quarterback in this league, in a league that's had some tremendous quarterbacks and has some great ones right now. I think the one thing about this league that sticks out is Andrew Luck, Matt Barkley, Nick Foles, Darron Thomas, Ryan Katz, the list goes on and on.
But to come in as a first-time starter and go undefeated in the regular season, and undefeated in this conference and lead his team to a berth in the National Championship Game. And threw for the second most yards ever in a National Championship Game, I think the one thing that I remarked and I said it a lot last year is that it almost seemed like every week he just got better and better. There are new facets to his game that he continues to work on.
He's probably the toughest quarterback I've ever been around. If you look at the touchdowns that he's thrown and just put a highlight tape of the 30-some odd touchdowns he threw, and how many shots he took when he was throwing the ball, and he's truly a fearless competitor. He's really grown into the leadership role that we've asked him to being the quarterback of our football team. The exciting thing for us is he's only going to be a junior.
I don't know if there is a ceiling for him, and I hope there's not. Because college football is a quarterback-driven game. This league is a quarterback-driven league, and we're going to go as far as Darron can play.
Q. What you saw?
COACH KELLY: Good question. We lacked experience. We lost three great players. Both ran our center, Jordan Holmes who had a tremendous amount to do with what our whole scheme is up front in terms of making calls and understanding where we are. And Mark Asper's coming back. Carson York's coming back. Darrion Weems is coming back, and those are the guys that have had some starts for us in our program. Mark started 10 or 12 games in his career. He's going to be the leader.
It's like anything. It's going to take some time to gel. We're confident in the group that we have. I like their athleticism, I like their toughness. I like their mindset. It's just the one thing you can't manufacture is experience, and we're going to try to do it as much as we can in the month of August, because we've got to be ready to play September 3rd against a really good LSU defense.
Q. David, last year after the Civil War a lot of you guys were talking about how you were motivated at the beginning of the year, and nobody giving you credit and giving you a chance with all the off-season issues. This off-season and heading into the year, how much has some of the off-the-field issues and the investigation, how much are you guys using that as a motivating force?
DAVID PAULSEN: I don't think it's too much different. I think we're a pretty motivated team already. I think it might help a little bit just to bring us together. But overall our team is pretty motivated anyways, so I don't think it's had that big of an effect on us.
Q. On the topic of motivation, different teams have different personalities and are motivated by different things. You talked about not being motivated by outside investigations. Being picked to win the conference though, is this a group you'll talk about that with or a group that you want to ignore that?
COACH KELLY: I'll talk about it with you guys today, but we don't run our program on outside influences and that's not going to change.
You know, it's nice to be picked to win, it's nice to be picked Top 5 in the country, but it doesn't mean anything until you go out and play the game. So that mindset won't change. Hopefully our motivation comes from within and our guys wanting to get better every day and become a better football team. But we don't ever hang this is our ranking and we have to live up to it and all those things.
I think the vision that we have for this football program exceeds any expectations that anybody could write down on a piece of paper.
Q. Clarification really quick. I didn't know if I heard you correctly. Did you say you have or you have not changed or thought about changing how you go about recruiting as a result?
COACH KELLY: We're always looking on how we can improve recruiting.
Q. Has the -- are you upset by the way the NCAA inquiry has sort of impacted the reputation of the program at this point?
COACH KELLY: I have great respect how the NCAA does their business.
Q. I'm not asking about how they do their business. Are you disappointed, discouraged or upset by the way the program's looked upon and you're cast as though you've done some things you haven't have done?
COACH KELLY: As I said earlier, and I know you have to ask the questions. We'll wait for the NCAA final determination to come out, and the outside law firm's recommendations on how we should move forward.
Q. Can you talk about the offensive line?
COACH KELLY: Again, we got some holes to fill with only 11 or so seniors coming back. At wide receiver you lost Jeff Maehl and Drew Davis that are two football players that epitomize everything you want in a player. Great special teams players, catch balls in traffic, run great routes provide great leadership for us.
We have two players that have played out there that have to decide who is going to step up for this wide receiver corp, and Josh Huff who played for us last year as a true freshman. After that, that's what preseason camp is about and figuring out who those other guys are. We have a pool of guys, but the lack of experience, I think will be the big thing that we'll have to fight through the receiver position.
I like our D-line after coming out of spring practice. Terrell Turner's back.
The one thing with our defensive line, is we rotated nine guys last year. So they've all played a lot of quality snaps.
We do lose Brandon Bair, and Kenny Rowe and Zac Clark. But Taylor Hart, Wade Keliikipi, and Ricky Heimuli have played a lot of football for us. Along with Terrell Turner, along with Dion Jordan and Brandon Hanna.
So with the defensive line, it's about trying to figure out who 7, 8, and 9 are, not who 1 through 6 are. So we'll play a lot of guys on our defense. That's something that we pride ourselves on is making sure we get a lot of guys involved so we can get is maximum effort for it. Play as hard as you can for four or five snaps and come out and take a breather for a second.
Somebody's going to come in and play two or three, and then you have to go back in the game. That system has worked for us for the last two years. So receiver is a question mark, D-line is a question mark, and O-line is a question mark. Those are where we have to fill in for experienced players that have left the football program.
Q. Coach, we heard Jeff Tedford say he wouldn't know Will Lyles if he was standing in this room. He's a guy that had a business relationship with him, paid him for information and videos. You paid $25,000, presumably, for garbage information that we've all seen. I've seen the phone records. This is a guy you had big contact with, knows pretty well. He says he may have broken rules.
DAVID HIRSCH: Excuse me. At this time, Oregon has released a statement, and we're doing this for the 2011 Pac-12 season.
Q. This is about the season.
DAVID HIRSCH: Appreciate it, and we'll go ahead.
Q. Does that concern you at all? Does that concern you that people are doing business with guys they don't know, and the system appears to be broken?
COACH KELLY: I can't speak to what any other school has done with him. I know he deals with 80-some odd schools and what other services he's been involved with. But I know how we dealt with them. But again, I've got to defer to. -- I'd love to talk about it. And when we have a chance after the report comes out, I'll be able to clear up any questions that anybody has about the whole situation.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports