Ducks wrap up three-day practice session
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) -- Any jitters that the Oregon Ducks may have had about playing on a BCS stage were iced last season when they went to the Rose Bowl.
"It was the first we had been there for about 15 years so we just had that euphoric atmosphere around us like, 'Hey we're here!' I think a lot of players just got lost in that," linebacker Spencer Paysinger said.
No such emotion this time around.
The No. 2 Ducks wrapped up a three-day practice session on Monday after getting most of last week off and taking final exams -- part of the team's businesslike approach to preparation for the national championship game against No. 1 Auburn on Jan. 10.
Oregon resumes practice on Friday, when the team will start game-planning for the Tigers. The Ducks will practice for a few days before breaking for the holiday, and they're scheduled to leave for Glendale, on Jan. 2.
"Right now, we're not keying on Auburn, because if we do it this week then we'll have to do it for the next 30-some odd days," Paysinger said last weekend. "If you practice for a team for 30 days, you'll get burned out and you won't be focused."
While their preparation has been low-key, the Ducks have still had plenty of attention. Running back LaMichael James and coach Chip Kelly returned after whirlwind East Coast tours of various award ceremonies.
James won the Doak Walker Award as the nation's best running back, honored last Thursday night during the College Football Awards Show at Disney World in Florida. Then he went on to the Heisman Trophy ceremony in New York, where he received the third-most votes behind winner Cam Newton of Auburn and runner-up Andrew Luck of Stanford.
The accolades were still coming for James, who on Tuesday was named an AP All-American.
Kelly was named the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year by the Football Writers Association of America last week before joining James for the Heisman ceremony.
Kelly spent Sunday and Monday at practice. Then he set off to recruit until workouts resume.
Auburn (13-0) was scheduled to return to practice this coming Saturday, but it's not as though the Tigers have been quiet, either. Newton grabbed the spotlight as the Heisman winner, appearing on "Good Morning America" and "Late Night with David Letterman."
Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn agreed to a contract extension after rumors swirled over a connection to the head coaching job at Vanderbilt.
Meanwhile, Nike unveiled Oregon's uniforms for the championship game at a splashy ceremony at Cowboys Stadium on Tuesday. The Beaverton-based shoe and apparel maker also showed off new Pro Combat uniforms for Boise State, Florida and TCU.
The Ducks' all-white road uniforms were surprising in that they didn't depart too much from the so-called "Stormtrooper" look the fashion-forward team has worn at times in the past.
The major difference is neon-yellow piping around the jersey numbers, and similarly neon-shaded cleats and socks, designed to make the players' feet blur as they dart downfield -- fitting for Oregon's speedy spread-option.
Oregon, which repeated as the Pac-10 champion this season, lost to Ohio State in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1.