Plenty goes in to formulating a game plan set to achieve hopeful victory in a spotlight matchup. With 40 days between their last game and their next game, the Ducks have done all they can in the interim to not only keep themselves physically conditioned, but mentally sharp, as well. The secret, according to Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti, is to not overdo and overwhelm his players with scheme and assignments with the game still nearly two and half weeks away.
Daniels has been one young player that has caught the attention of Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti this season.
"The first eight practices primarily are us visiting everything that we do," said Aliotti. "A lot of it is -- we do some game-planning -- but we do mostly a lot of stuff against each other and it's stuff that we'd do anyway. I think when we come back Wednesday, Thursday, Friday -- which will be like a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday for us during a normal week -- that's when we'll gear it up a lot more. I'd expect those practice to look more like they do on a weekly basis.
"We haven't overloaded them or bored them too much with Kansas State yet, because it can get long sometimes for the young men."
As the time till kickoff between the Ducks and Wildcats slowly dwindles away, so does the time that Aliotti and other members of the coaching staff get to spend with a number of the "young men" -- particularly seniors -- on the roster. During this time of year, Aliotti admits to getting caught up in emotional reflection when thinking about the limited time he has remaining to coach some of the elder statesmen in the program.
"Sometimes I find myself getting a little bit teary-eyed or emotional about a player's last game," said Aliotti. "As you get older, you become this sort of grandfather figure. You've lived a lot longer, so things touch you more...It's a big deal and unfortunately after five years, they do move on.
"I can't tell you how the other guys feel, but I find myself getting very emotional before the game and then once it starts, then you're rockin' and rollin' and hopefully giving them a hug for victory afterwards. You're giving them a hug no matter what, but hopefully it's a victory hug. Either way they should go out feeling like winners, because they're absolute winners."
One player in particular that Aliotti says has demonstrated staggering growth both on and off the football field is senior defensive end/linebacker, Dion Jordan. Originally arriving on campus as a wide receiver in 2008, Jordan made a near seamless transition to defense and now has himself positioned to be a first round draft pick in April's NFL Draft. According to Aliotti, Jordan has made "quantum leaps" over the span of time he's spent in Eugene.
"Dion Jordan's been probably a guy who has probably taken the biggest quantum leap from day one to now in his whole persona," said Aliotti. "The guy is a good student, the guy is a tremendous leader, the guy has an awesome motor, the guys listen to him; he's probably -- if not our best -- one of our best defensive players, for sure.
"If you can everybody in your program start and finish like Dion Jordan, that's saying something. I have a lot of strong feelings for Dion."
In meeting with the media, Aliotti made a point to bring up the stellar play of redshirting safety Reggie Daniels, who has impressed the coaches during the season and whose performance during bowl practices has continued to be noteworthy.
"Reggie Daniels has really jumped out at me," said Aliotti. "We've played so many young guys this year, but none of the other guys in the secondary -- besides Reggie -- have flashed at me yet. Most of our linebackers have played, most of our defensive linemen that are freshmen have played, so he'd be the one [who has stood out]."