2013 Fiesta Bowl: Oregon's Chip Kelly talks about team's improvements

Scott Olmos-US PRESSWIRE

Oregon Ducks coach Chip Kelly on offensive and defensive players that have improved as well as how important it has been to keep his current staff together for as long as he has.

The Oregon Ducks were one of the teams that were slated to play in the BCS National Championship game until they lost, to Stanford on Nov. 17 in overtime by a score of 17-14. That loss, along with Kansas State's loss on the same day, pretty much handed the National Championship to Notre Dame or the SEC. The Ducks aren't going home empty handed, though. They're going to face off against the Kansas State Wildcats in the Fiesta Bowl, which is likely the most anticipated bowl game outside of the national championship game.

The Ducks' head coach, Chip Kelly, has had Oregon's offense playing at a high level for a few years and has been courted by NFL and NCAA teams alike. He has stayed put in Oregon, though, along with his coaching staff, which is one of the reasons he believes the team has been successful:

"It always helps. Our meetings are a lot shorter; we're all on the same page. Everybody understands the vision we have for this football program, and it makes things go a lot smoother."

The Ducks not only have one of the best offenses in college football - they're second in the NCAA in points scored per game, averaging 50.8 - but their defense has played at a high level as well. Kelly was recently asked which of his defensive players have improved the most and he listed defensive end Dion Jordan and linebacker Michael Clay among others that have held opposing offenses to an average of 22 points per game:

"I think a lot of them have. Dion Jordan, Michael Clay, Kiko Alonso, Taylor Hart, Troy Hill, Terrence Mitchell, Brian Jackson, Erick Dargan - I mean, there's a whole ton of them. That's why we've played really well on the defensive side of the ball."

Offense is what the Ducks are known for and Kelly has a fairly long list of improved players on that side of the ball as well:

"Marcus Mariota, Kenjon Barner, Colt Lyerla, Tyler Johnstone, Kyle Long, Hroniss Grasu...a good list."

The Ducks will take on the Wildcats in Glendale, Arizona in the University of Phoenix Stadium on Jan. 3 at 5:30 p.m. PST. The Ducks are favored by eight points per Odds Shark.

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