New Oregon coordinator Chip Kelly isn't always amused with the reputation his offense garnered in seven seasons as New Hampshire's top offensive assistant.
The system was explosive. It was fast-paced, and it was creative. But Kelly doesn't want to be called any kind of mad scientist.
"I don't even have a science background," Kelly said dryly.
Kelly cobbled ideas from all over the country for the offense at New Hampshire, where the Wildcats averaged at least 400 yards per game in seven of his last eight years there.
It's easy to be creative when you have to be, Kelly said.
His best coaching job may have been in 2005. Out of necessity, Kelly was forced to think outside the box. New Hampshire finished 11-1 that year.
In a game against Maine, Kelly lined up two receivers and a tight end in the backfield. Defenses were kept off balance with a no-huddle offense and presnap movement.
"At times it can look like we're doing a lot of different things," Kelly said. "The basics and fundamentals of football have never changed and will never change. You have to be sound in the rushing attack. You have to be sound in your pass protections and routes that you're running."
Kelly is taking his offense across the country. After 14 seasons as an assistant at New Hampshire, Kelly was named Oregon offensive coordinator following Gary Crowton's departure to LSU.
For both Kelly and the Ducks, it seems like a perfect fit.
Kelly is already familiar with the spread offense. Oregon installed it a few years ago. Judging by his results at New Hampshire, Kelly's characteristics will fit perfectly in the high-flying Pac-10.
"Chip Kelly was one of the coaches I had on my short list when the opening developed," Oregon coach Mike Bellotti said when Kelly was hired. "I didn't know him, but he and Gary Crowton engaged in conversations throughout last year regarding aspects of the spread offense. From that standpoint, I believed that his philosophy was very similar to ours at Oregon."
In other words, don't expect many drastic changes. There's little reason to want a refit of the offense. Oregon ranked ninth in the country in total offense. The Ducks also led the league in rushing.
Quarterback Dennis Dixon has 15 career starts over the last two seasons. Six-foot-5, 240-pound receiver Jaison Williams started the 2006 season on a tear before the offense as a whole went dormant in the final four games.
Stewart rushed for 981 yards, 10 touchdowns and 5.4 yards per carry as he fought through injuries for most of the year.
Hopes are high for a full season from Stewart, who was the top running back in the class of 2005 according to Rivals.com. At 5-foot-11 and 230 pounds, Stewart brings a rare blend of size and power.
"He's a freak, an absolute freak," Kelly said. "He certainly is as good a running back prospect as any in this country. His combination of size, speed and power is maybe unmatched."
Kelly has his share of challenges, though.
For all of Oregon's success on offense, the Ducks could have been better. Oregon gave the ball away 32 times, finishing 109th in the country in turnover margin. Dixon and backup quarterback Brady Leaf combined for 18 interceptions.
When fall practice begins, Kelly will also have to reacquaint himself with his starting quarterback. After the Atlanta Braves took Dixon in the fifth round of the Major League Baseball draft, Dixon will head East to play in the minor leagues.
Oregon's offensive statistics and Pac-10 rank for the 2006 season
Oregon expects him to return, but Dixon will miss voluntary seven-on-seven workouts with his receivers.
"You would like all your players to be here during the summer, but it's difficult to stand in the way of a young man who has an opportunity like this," Kelly said. "I don't think it's our place to say that's not something he should do. If he does go to play, he's still going to be preparing himself for football."
In the meantime, Kelly will look to perfect his potion in Eugene -- whether that means handing the ball to a receiver, spreading out the defense or running a no-huddle.
"Our thoughts are if you're going to throw a screen pass to a receiver, why can't you hand it to him in the backfield?" Kelly said. "If it's just as easy handing it to them as throwing it to them, I don't have any problem with doing that. I don't think it's thinking out of the box. It's trying to find ways to get speed in space, and we really want to get the ball in the playmakers' hands."
David Fox is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.