No. 9 Oregon preps for Thursday game against Cal
Monday was really Wednesday for ninth-ranked Oregon - and Tuesday is really Thursday.
In the regimented world of Oregon coach Chip Kelly, preparation for Thursday night's game against California proceeds exactly as it would if the game were being played on Saturday.
The Ducks (3-1, 1-0 Pac-12) are coming off a bye week, so they opened preparation for the Golden Bears this past Saturday, er, Monday.
''My week is all messed up,'' cornerback Anthony Gildon said. ''It's Monday but it's Wednesday. I had to convince myself it's Monday and now I have to go to class.''
Of course, it's an unusual week no matter how you spin it. Even the hour of the game - 6 p.m. local time - is later than Kelly would prefer. But ultimately it doesn't matter.
''If they want us to play at midnight, we'll play at midnight. If they want us to play at 6 a.m., we'll play at 6 a.m.,'' Kelly said.
Oregon's last outing was a 56-31 victory at Arizona in the team's Pac-12 opener. LaMichael James rushed for a school-record 288 yards and had two touchdowns to eclipse Oregon's career TD mark with 47.
James leads a speedy offense that appears to be back to last season's form. The Ducks are averaging 52 points and 533.73 yards a game.
But at the same time, Oregon's defense is allowing opponents an average of 389.5 yards, ranking them 77th in the nation. Wildcats quarterback Nick Foles passed for 398 yards and three touchdowns against the Ducks.
''We still need to tackle better,'' Kelly said. ''But I love our guys' effort, and I love how much they study the game and are in tune to what they're doing.''
The Ducks' D could get some help against Cal with the return of inside linebacker Michael Clay, who has missed two games because of what appeared to be an ankle sprain. It is Oregon's policy not to comment on injuries.
Clay was at practice in full pads on Sunday.
Cal (3-1, 0-1 Pac-12) is also coming off a week off. Last season when these two teams played, the Ducks won 15-13 but the Golden Bears held Oregon to season lows in points and yards (317).
The game was also notable because a Cal defensive player was caught on video looking to the sideline after a play, before abruptly collapsing to the ground with an injury.
There was widespread speculation that Cal faked the injury to slow Oregon's fast spread offense down. Suspicion was confirmed later in the season when defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi was suspended for a game for admitting that he instructed the player to go down.
The Bears' last outing was a 31-23 loss at Washington in their conference opener.
Oregon is 8-1 against the Bears at Autzen Stadium since 1989 and the Ducks are riding an 18-game home winning streak.
''I was telling some of the young guys, 'Y'all haven't seen the atmosphere yet,''' Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas said. ''First night game, plus we're in school, and on a Thursday, I know it's going to be over the top.''