"Sweet!" declared Asper, who was then disappointed to get a letter informing him that he'd been placed in a higher-risk pool. The policy writers, it seemed, had seen his size and, based on that alone, judged him to be ... less healthy. Upset, he got his insurance agent on the phone, complaining, "I'm the most physically fit 6'8", 320-pound guy you've ever met!"
He and his linemates are in superb shape. They remember when Kelly arrived from New Hampshire as the offensive coordinator in 2007. That spring, the Ducks pushed the tempo as they never had before. "After that," recalls left guard Carson York, "every time we opened a new camp—spring or fall—Chip wanted us to be faster."
The spring of 2008 was even more miserable for the big uglies. There were only eight of them in camp, and Kelly ramped up the speed dramatically. "The next fall was faster," says right guard C.E. Kaiser. "Last [fall] was faster than that, and this fall was even faster."
They don't do wind sprints or conditioning drills during the season. "Practice is the conditioning," says offensive line coach Steve Greatwood, who never fails to smile, he admits, when an upcoming opponent vows to do "extra conditioning this week" to get ready for the Ducks: "If it's not there already, you're not gonna get it in four days of practice."
The Oregon O-linemen still remember the ragged breathing and desperation of Washington's defenders on Nov. 6. Driving for their final touchdown in a 53--16 rout, Oregon ran the same play, an inside run, nine times in a row. Having picked up the Ducks' signals, "They knew it was coming," Asper recalls. The Huskies kept gasping, "Same play! Same play!"
"They knew what was coming," agrees center Jordan Holmes, "but we were running it so fast, and they were so damn tired, they still couldn't stop it."
"We were exhausted," allowed Washington coach Steve Sarkisian.
Give his guys credit: They didn't flop. Arizona State, Stanford and Cal have all had players feign injuries in order to slow Oregon's tempo, which, at its quickest, averages one play every 17 seconds.
Bad news for Auburn: "We can go faster," says the 47-year-old Kelly, who invited Paul Westhead to speak to the team during the preseason. Now the coach of the women's basketball team in Eugene, Westhead gained renown for directing the Lakers to an NBA title in 1980. At Loyola Marymount, from '85 through '90, he became known as the Guru of Go for his team's relentless running.
"Anyone can run the fast break for 10 or 15 possessions," Westhead recalls telling the football team. "It's when you do it 70 to 80 times a game ... that's how you crack the opposition.