Things I saw while holding a microphone for Comcast Sportsnet:
- Chip Kelly has lost weight. “Pac-10 football coaches diet,” he told me off camera. Kelly looked very relaxed and comfortable. And I have to say he was very impressive in his interviews. He actually looked to be enjoying himself — which is the only way to attack that part of the job.
- I think people are getting stuck with the stereotypes in the whole Derron Thomas-Nate Costa battle for the quarterback job. Thomas, who is black, is being thought of as the runner and Costa, a white guy, is considered the passer. That’s an old stereotype — the black guy is always the runner, right? In this case, I’m not so sure. I think Thomas considers himself a passer first and may throw better than Costa — who made his early reputation with the Ducks as a whisper-quick runner. I asked Costa how much speed he’d lost since his freshman season, what with all the injuries, and his answer surprised me. “By now, none,” he said. “My times now are right back where they were when I got here.” If that’s the case, I think you’re going to be surprised at how well he motors in space. I asked each player who was the fastest and neither would answer — leading me to believe that it’s at least close.
- Nick Aliotti is a classic. In his 35th season of college football, Aliotti had lost his voice already — on the first day of practice. He’s a survivor who has taken his share of heat over the years and he isn’t getting full credit for his defensive squad at Oregon right now because the offense gets all the attention. But the Ducks led the conference in defense last year and may just do it again. Nobody cares more about his players than Aliotti — I love the guy.
- LaMichael James says his work with the track team last spring had a big impact for him — “I’m faster now,” he said with great confidence. “No doubt about it. I learned so much about running fundamentals. You’re going to see a difference.”