Fiesta Bowl could be Kelly's last with the Ducks

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 4, 2013 at 4:11 pm •  Published: January 4, 2013
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The NCAA does not comment on ongoing investigations.

"We've cooperated fully with them. If they want to talk to us again, we'll continue to cooperate fully," Kelly said. "I feel confident in the situation."

While Oregon awaits the hearing, which could be scheduled as early as this spring, the Ducks appear solid on the field for next season and perhaps beyond with rising offensive stars Mariota and Thomas.

Mariota set the team's single-season record with 38 touchdowns (32 passing, 5 rushing, 1 receiving), surpassing the previous mark of 36 held by Darron Thomas (2011) and Akili Smith (1998).

The first freshman named to the Pac-12's all-conference first team in 23 years, Mariota passed for 2,739 yards, completing a school-record 68.5 percent of his passes. He had 3,429 yards of total offense, second only to Smith's 3,947 in 1998.

The 6-foot-4 dual-threat quarterback from Hawaii credited Kelly for the season.

"The success, all that's happening with this offense is from him. To be able to just kind of go through that and to learn from it, you know, it's going to make me a better quarterback for future years," Mariota said.

Then there's Thomas, who scored on a 94-yard return of the opening kickoff Thursday against Kansas State. It was the longest all-purpose play in Oregon bowl history.

Thomas has a school-record 509 all-purpose yards on just 19 touches in his two career bowl games.

The Fiesta Bowl was the final game for several notable Oregon players, including running back Kenjon Barner, who broke out in his senior season after the departure of LaMichael James to the NFL.

Barner finished the season with 1,767 yards rushing, second-best in school history to James' 1,805 yards last season.

For his career, Barner finished with 5,848 all-purpose yards, 21 yards shy of James' career record. His 42 career touchdowns are also second to James (58) in the Ducks' record book.

The defensive side loses senior linebacker Michael Clay, one of the team's leaders. The senior had nine tackles in the Fiesta Bowl and was named the defensive player of the game.

"Right now, things are a lot more surreal than anything else," he said afterward. " The last time playing with these guys, taking off the pads, the last time in an Oregon jersey. You're kind of surreal and in a daze right now."

Kelly spoke after the Fiesta Bowl almost as though he was saying goodbye, too, although only time will tell.

"It's a special place with special people. They accepted me six years ago when I was at New Hampshire. Not many people knew about me," Kelly said. "Gave me an opportunity to come here. It really means a lot."



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