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Oregon Ducks finding balance in Pac-12 play

Associated Press Modified: October 3, 2012 at 5:46 pm •  Published: October 3, 2012

"It's an amusing phenomenon to us that we always either play poorly or we play well, we don't get any credit to the opponents that we play."

The caveat in that, of course, is that the attention usually falls on the team that's ranked No. 2 in the country.

The Ducks' offense seems to grab most of the headlines. Led by redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota and running backs Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon is the nation's fourth-ranked team in scoring average at 52.4 points, sixth in rushing average with 303 yards, and seventh in total offense with 550.6 yards a game.

What makes Oregon dangerous is its quickness in Kelly's spread offense. Twenty of Oregon's 33 touchdown drives this season took less than two minutes, and 11 took less than one.

But the defense has come on strong, particularly in the last two games. The unit has scored three times off interceptions: cornerbacks Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and Troy Hill had touchdowns against the Wildcats, while safety Avery Patterson returned an interception for a TD against the Cougars. That ranks Oregon second in the nation.

Oregon has allowed its last two Pac-12 opponents just one touchdown in 11 red zone visits. Additionally, the defense held the Wildcats and Cougars to just 81 yards rushing.

And yes, it's true that Oregon's plan is to outlast its opponents with a speedy offense combined with a well-conditioned defense, Kelly said. That's essentially the Ducks' balance.

"I think it's how we practice and how we prepare each week," Kelly said. "Our kids are in great condition coming into camp. They know we pride ourselves on doing things fast and playing hard here ... We practice at such a rate and get so many reps in that the games are a lot slower than practices are."