Charles Fischer of Fishduck.com, the top source for analysis of Oregon Ducks football, wrote a piece this weekend about why he thinks Chip Kelly is going to win Super Bowls at the NFL level. It's a great, feel good article and I encourage you to check it... but one passage in particular caught my eye.
In 2007 Heisman candidate QB Dennis Dixon went down with a knee injury that thwarted Oregon's National Championship hopes, but few realize the extent to which Oregon was ravaged by injuries at the position that year. Oregon was down to their fourth string QB, (Justin Roper, a redshirt freshman who later transferred to Montana) as the starter for the Sun Bowl that year and Coach Kelly devised a game plan for the statuesque Roper that utilized his talents. Roper threw for four touchdown passes in that victory while Oregon set a record for points in the Sun Bowl (56). It was Chip's first year as our Offensive Coordinator...
What we always hear about Chip Kelly and what the coach himself says is that he's not a system first guy, he's a personell first guy. His system gets tailored to the guys he has. While that may be true, as for the QB position he certainly has mostly had athletic guys. That has understandably led to the assumption that the decidedly non-athletic Nick Foles will have no place under Chip.
That's where Justin Roper comes in. Roper, like Foles, is a big 6-6 passer who relies more on his arm than his legs. Now, Roper is more athletic than Foles (4.86 40 vs Foles 5.0 40), but he's certainly no Dennis Dixon.
As Fishduck notes, Roper was called on to play in the Sun Bowl for the Ducks, who were 6.5 point underdogs to the South Florida Bulls who were then coached by current 49ers LB coach Jim Leavitt. Chip Kelly and the Oregon offense flat out worked over the Bulls to the tune of 56 points.
Roper, again a 4th string QB, was 17-30 for 180 yards and 4 TDs. He ran only 3 times for 10 yards. For reference, Nick Foles averaged 3 rushes per game over his last 3 starts.
RB Johnathan Stewart, by the way, rushed for 253 yards in that game. Clearly the run set up the pass in that one. Not only does that Sun Bowl bode pretty well for those of us hoping Chip Kelly is the genius he's made out to be, but it also shows that he doesn't need a mobile QB to still have a lethal offense.