Look for senior defensive end/linebacker Dion Jordan to be chasing Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein all over the field on January 3.
As impressive as Oregon's depth of speed on both sides of ball has been since head coach Chip Kelly took the reigns of the program in 2009, the Ducks will matchup against a Kansas State team January 3 in Glendale that won't be afraid to match the Ducks' speed with speed of their own. Following practice Saturday afternoon, Oregon offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich said that the Wildcats' speed on defense is one thing that jumps off the page to him immediately.
"Their speed at defensive end and their speed at MIKE linebacker kind of takes you aback, so to speak," said Helfrich, referencing Wildcat defensive end Meshak Williams and linebacker Arthur Brown. "Overall, they're unbelievably disciplined and very, very well-coached. They play within their scheme very well."
Brown has been a major point of emphasis for Oregon coaches and players through the early days of preparation for the Fiesta Bowl. Originally a regular contributor at University of Miami in the 2008 and 2009 season, the Wichita, Kan. native transferred to Kansas State in 2010 and has since has flourished as the star of the Wildcat defense.
"He's big, he's fast, he's tough, you can tell he's smart just in terms of how he plays," said Helfrich. "He's a guy who never really takes a bad step. When you're a fast guy and you guess a lot, you have to overcome it with being that much better of an athlete, but he's a fast guy that doesn't guess very much.
"His first step is fast and in the right direction."
On offense, Kansas State may not have the Ducks' reputation for turning games in to track meets, though they are far from lacking quicks. Quarterback Collin Klein has developed the distinction as a bruising, physical runner, but as senior defensive lineman/linebacker Dion Jordan noted, Klein's speed and overall impact on the game can be deceptive and must be accounted for.
"He's a big guy, but he's not like a quarterback like Cam Newton, like, 'Oh wow, look at his size and speed,'" said Jordan of Klein. "It's deceptive and his numbers show that he's one of the best at what he does. He does a great job just making sure he makes smart plays and he makes the right plays to put his team in position [to win]."