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TOSTITOS FIESTA BOWL: KANSAS STATE v OREGON


December 31, 2012


Chip Kelly


GLENDALE, ARIZONA

THE MODERATOR:  We'll begin with the interview session now with Coach Kelly.  We'll ask Coach Kelly for a few opening comments, then go to questions.
COACH KELLY:  We got down here on the night of the 26th, started practice on the 27th.  Things have gone extremely well.  Our kids have been really focused and understand the task at hand.
It's about trying to improve on this season.  We've got one more game against an outstanding Kansas State University team, coached by Bill Snyder, who I think is one of the greatest football coaches in the history of this game.  It's an honor to go against him.
We're excited about the opportunity.  We had a couple more days of prep as we get ready for it.  All hands are on deck and we're excited to go.
THE MODERATOR:  Questions for Coach Kelly.

Q.  (Question regarding the seniors.)
COACH KELLY:  It's been an outstanding group.  Dion Jordan, Michael Clay, Kenjon Barner, special guys that have done a great job of teaching our young guys how we do things, role models on and off the field.  Really a special group that I have a special place in my heart for.
Those guys came in four years ago, and just to watch them grow as individuals, see them towards the end of their career, it's a little bittersweet because you enjoy being around them so much.  But I'm so excited about seeing their growth over the last four years.  The fun part is we get to be together one more time.

Q.  Fourth consecutive BCS bowl.  How far has this program come?
COACH KELLY:¬† I don't think we're judged by wins and losses.¬† As a coaching staff, we don't do that.¬† We're proud of that obviously, but the results aren't the end part for us.¬† It's about their growth every day both on the field and off the field.¬† When you see where Dion Jordan was five years ago to where Dion Jordan is now, and Kenjon Barner.¬† It was interesting, I showed our freshmen this year, because seems I think they see a Dion or Kenjon and look at a finished product.¬† I brought them in a room and showed them what they looked like their freshman year.¬† And Dion was playing wide receiver and Kenjon was playing defensive back and they were covering each other on one‑on‑one drills and falling all over each other.
When you watch them grow to where they are now to Dion being just one of the best defensive players in the country, Kenjon being an All‑American at runningback, it's been a great run.
That's what we measure it as.  The maturity and growth of the kids, four years ago and now what they're like as they're leaving.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH KELLY:  He is.  You'd like to take a little bit of credit.  I think we noticed that when he first got here.  I've said it before, it took him about a week to figure out what we do on the offensive side of the ball.  He's got a lot of special qualities, extremely quick of mind, can deduce things in a real rapid manner.  Just got a lot of qualities that I think you look for in a quarterback.
But when you first see somebody, they're not physical qualities, they're those intangible things.  It's what shows up all the time.
He never really makes the same mistake twice.  He's great at understanding and grasping the reason why and moving forward.  The amazing thing he's only a redshirt freshman, so how far can he go.  It's been an amazing thing to watch.  A really special, young talent.

Q.  What does it mean for the players to be here?
COACH KELLY:  I don't really care about the critics, what they care or say.  I know the feelings our players have.  When you get to where we are, get a chance to play one more time, if you've been around this group like I have, it's special.
We kind of made a pact as a group.  They've lived up to their end of the bargain, is that every Thanksgiving we'll spend together as a team, every Christmas they're going to spend together with their families, and every New Year's we're going to spend together as a football team.
The experience we've had since our last game, which I think was on the 24th of November, to get to spend six more weeks with these guys, I don't think you can put a price tag on that.  That's the fun part for a coaching staff.
We look at this as an opportunity to go out one more time as a team and show the country what we're all about and we're excited about that challenge.

Q.  How challenging was it to have that gap in time?
COACH KELLY:  We don't look at it as challenging.  You know the landscape before you go in.  If you look at it as a challenge, you're probably going to make more out of it than what it is.  It's been the same since we've been there.
First year, Rose Bowl, second year back here, third year, Rose Bowl, now back here.  If you want to play in a big game, you're going to have more time off.
We use our time off wisely.  We never practice more than four days in a row.  We have a bunch of guys that love playing and practicing football and are excited about it.
We don't look at it as a challenge.  This is our schedule.  We map it out every summer.  Depending on what bowl game we're going to go to, this is what we're going to practice, this is what we're going to do.  We have to maximize our time that's been made available to us.

Q.  (Question regarding K State.)
COACH KELLY:  I'm a college football fan.  You know who the top teams in the country are.  Obviously you can't help as a coach admire what Coach Snyder has done.  He had an opportunity when he first got to K State that he created a legacy that I don't think anybody could ever imagine when he first took over that program, what one man could do to a university.  Retired for a couple years, then came back and is building upon that legacy.
It's really a special story in college football that will go down, like I said, as one of the top coaches in the history of the game.
Everybody is aware what K State has done since coach took over there.  That's the thing for us, what we think is real neat.  It's an honor for us to go out and compete against a Bill Snyder coached team.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH KELLY:  I don't know.  I mean, I've never looked at it like that.  It's a good question.  Usually I'm not stumped when someone asks me a question.
We have a model that we talked about, a vision, how we want them to act both on and off the field, how we want to approach practice, how we want to approach things on a daily process, embrace the process.  Those guys do that.  Everybody in our staff does, too.
I wouldn't say it's my personality, I would say it's our staff's personality.

Q.  (Question regarding Kenjon's development.)
COACH KELLY:  Obviously in his development, it helped.  I think he needed more carries.  I think he needed an opportunity to really show.  I think we knew as a coaching staff what a great player Kenjon is.  We've been blessed at Oregon to have a lot of talent on the offensive side of the ball.  Unfortunately for that talent, only one of them can carry it on each play.
When you had such a great player like LaMichael James, he was going to get his touches.  You throw DeAnthony in there, our quarterbacks, our receivers, our tight ends, it's just sometimes guys, not that they can't do it, but they have to wait their turn.
What you saw out of Kenjon this year is honestly what we expected out of him.  Every time he had an opportunity to go in a game, to contribute, he's done it since he was a redshirted freshman.
I think what he did in coming back this year was give him an opportunity to show everybody what a special football player he is.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH KELLY:¬† I think we look at it as both.¬† Just because when you play in a BCS game, there aren't holes on the other side.¬† Sometimes you may be in a game, it's a little lopsided, like, we're going to score some points, but it's incumbent for our defense to play well.¬† And we've got a shot at this thing.¬† They're so well‑coached on both sides of the ball.
Really for us a lot of attention on special teams.  They lead the country in returns, do a great job.  I think the challenge for our defense going against Collin Klein and that group is a big one for us.
Obviously Arthur Brown, what those guys do on defense is big.  Really their return game.
I think all three phases, when you get to this level, you're playing a 4 versus a 5 matchup, whatever their team is now, there's really not a hole in their team.  That's what makes the challenge.  It's a complete football team.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH KELLY:  Yeah, you do.  I think that's what makes every coach crazy because you have so much time to think about it.  Recruiting, flying around watching film, in the airport watching tape.
At the end of the day, I think all great teams, when they get to their final game, we're going to do what we do, they're going to do what they do, and we're going to see how the thing works itself out.  But you can drive yourself a bit crazy with all that time off and all the different scenario.  The good part is, I don't think our players think like us.  They're not thinking like we are in their free time.  I think every coach kind of feels that way.
In the end, it's going to be us versus them.  We're going to be what we've been all year long, they're going to be who they are all year long, we're going to see who wins.

Q.  What did you learn from watching the Baylor tape that you'll apply this week?
COACH KELLY:  I think on the defensive side, they just missed some tackles.  There were certain things, they were there.  Schematically, it wasn't that they exploited something from K State where you were like, Wow, we can add that to our arsenal as we prepare for this game.  It was just a case on that certain night that Baylor executed a little bit better than K State executed.
When you look at that game, then you look at the totality of the season, there's not one thing that they did drastically different in that game.  I think Baylor has a lot of speed, speed in space.  They made kids miss tackles.  When they missed tackles, they hit some long runs.
Didn't happen the rest of the year.¬† They do a good job of tackling in the open field, they really negate long runs.¬† When you break the game down, sometimes you look at things, it's was a schematic advantage, it wasn't a schematic deal.¬† It was an individual breakdown here or there.¬† That's the difference in a play resulting in a six‑yard gain or a 60‑yard gain.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH KELLY:  I don't think so.  We lost a game to Stanford, but we had another game next week.  We had to play Oregon State, we played them up at their place in a really hostile environment.  K State had another game to finish.  K State played Texas at their place.  A nationally ranked team.  I think both teams put that away the day after they lost it.

Q.  Can you explain your team's ability to score quickly in 90 seconds or less?
COACH KELLY:  We got really fast players (smiling).  If you give them a crack, you miss a tackle, they can make you pay for it.  Our success on the offensive side of the ball is very much personnel driven.  We've got some special kids, DeAnthony, Kenjon, Josh Huff, Colt Lyeria, our quarterback, that if you give them a little bit of room, they can make you pay.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH KELLY:  On the defensive side of the ball, I could use Dion on offense, good suggestion (laughter).
I think what we've done in the last four years, and I don't know why, but I think at times our defense gets overlooked.  They've been outstanding.  You can't win as many games as we've won over the last four years without playing great defense.
I think the amount of points you score really get publicity for the offensive side of the ball.  To win three straight conference championships, four straight BCS games, you have to be great on the defensive side of the game.
Dion, Kiko Alonso, with Michael Clay and that group of guys there, they have really been the cornerstone of what we do.  I know he's excited to play his last game back in his hometown after coming up to our place five years ago.  I know he's going to be ready to play this one.

Q.  With all the distractions that are around bowl games, nothing that you're doing, but your name will be thrown around about the NFL job.  How do you insulate your team about that?
COACH KELLY:  I never said a word to our guys about it.  They understand what the task is at hand.  I don't think about it.  They don't think about it, so...

Q.  Against a team that's No.1 in turnovers, can you talk about discipline.
COACH KELLY:¬† We've never coached, Don't make mistakes.¬† We have a confidence in what we do.¬† We talk about making plays.¬† Obviously there's a certain way to play this game.¬† You obviously can't have what we call SIWs, self‑inflicted wounds.
I'm not going to go in and tell our guys, Hey, let's not make mistakes tonight.  It's going to be We're going to cut it lose, play with our hair on fire, get after K State.
I'm sure they're going to do the same exact thing and the best team is going to win.
If you go into this afraid, not making mistakes, that's probably the wrong approach to take.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH KELLY:  We hope so.  We play from desire to excel, not a fear of failure.  We've always coached our players that way.  Our coaching staff is extremely positive.  Go make plays, don't be afraid.  If you're afraid playing this game, you're going to lose.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH KELLY:  I got nothing to do with it, so... 
I love our uniforms.  They're awesome.  I wear the same thing every game.  When I see our guys come out of the tunnel, I think, That looks cool.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH KELLY:  No, I'm coaching the Fiesta Bowl.  I haven't talked to Dave in a while.  Everybody knows what I'm doing.  I got a game on Thursday night.  That's the way it's always been, so...

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH KELLY:¬† I think they're building a brand‑new like 300, 400 million dollar stadium.¬† I don't think they're lacking for funds.¬† That's probably choice of Coach Snyder that he doesn't want to have that, so...

Q.  (Question regarding K State offense.)
COACH KELLY:  I've always said that it's not the turnover battle, it's the response after turnover battle.  If our defense is fortunate enough to create some turnovers for us, we got to do something with it.
If it's unfortunate and we do turn it over, it's the responsibility of our defense to go out and not let something happen with it.
We've always coached the response after turnover battle more than the turnover battle, so...

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH KELLY:¬† Great kid.¬† I think he's been three‑time scout team Player of the Year for us.¬† I think it was once on offense, once on defense, once on special teams.¬† Just a kid that's totally selfless.¬† Came here.¬† He's legitimately from the North Pole.¬† Tried out for our team.¬† Something about him.¬† Unbelievable competitive nature to him.¬† He just wants to contribute.¬† He's been great.¬† We've asked him to play so many different roles, he's never batted an eye.
He's a kid that loves football, loves being on a team, and is totally selfless.  He's a prime example of what we want this program to be about.  The fact that he's been voted three times, on three different things, he's like the poster child for it.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH KELLY:  He's played in a lot of games.  That's the unique thing for us.  There's been some times, usually you're so caught up in the game that you're just watching, then we've obviously in some of our games had some leads.
I remember looking out, we were at Tennessee a couple years ago, and Chad Delaney was playing receiver in the game.¬† He had shown up as a walk‑on.¬† Chad, can you believe you just played against the University of Tennessee?¬† He said, I can't believe I'm on this team.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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