mark helfrich

Tattoo: The Ducks! The Ducks!

Mon, 02/09/2015 - 8:42pm
Cliff Pfenning
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Oregon's big foray into the college football signing day phenomenon actually happened five days late - or later - in terms of news the rest of the nation could focus on.

Monday, the Ducks extended the contract of head coach Mark Helfrich to the 2020 season, with the specifics being $17.5 million over five seasons. Oregon put a tattoo on its coach for the rest of the decade, unless he wants to bolt for the NFL - and the $3 million buyout. Doesn't seem likely, though.

Then, later in the day, the Ducks announced they had landed Vernon Adams, the three-year starting quarterback at FCS power Eastern Washington, as a potential replacement for Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota.

Adams joins a crowded group - at least until someone transfers - of players awaiting their shot at becoming the next standout at Autzen Stadium.

Adams threw for more than 10,000 yards while guiding the Eagles on their red turf. He'll graduate from EWU in June, then be able to join the Oregon football team in time to get ready for another run at a national title.

 

 

 

Oregon inks its future

The Ducks sign Helfrich long-term, then land top FCS quarterback
Feb. 9, 2015 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

Oregon's big foray into the college football signing day phenomenon actually happened five days late - or later - in terms of news the rest of the nation could focus on.

Monday, the Ducks extended the contract of head coach Mark Helfrich to the 2020 season, with the specifics being $17.5 million over five seasons. Oregon put a tattoo on its coach for the rest of the decade, unless he wants to bolt for the NFL - and the $3 million buyout. Doesn't seem likely, though.

Then, later in the day, the Ducks announced they had landed Vernon Adams, the three-year starting quarterback at FCS power Eastern Washington, as a potential replacement for Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota.

Adams joins a crowded group - at least until someone transfers - of players awaiting their shot at becoming the next standout at Autzen Stadium.

Adams threw for more than 10,000 yards while guiding the Eagles on their red turf. He'll graduate from EWU in June, then be able to join the Oregon football team in time to get ready for another run at a national title.

At EWU, Adams led the Eagles to an upset of Oregon State at the start of the 2013 season, then nearly beat Washington last season.

Oregon has five other quarterbacks lined up in a virtual mosh pit of competition for a spot that has been held by one player for three seasons.

Mariota, in numerous mock drafts, is predicted to become a member of the New York Jets in fall.

 

Helfrich had a banner season, almost

Tue, 01/13/2015 - 1:09pm
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Well, Mark Helfrich is no Urban Meyer. At least not yet.

Pretty darn close, though.

Helfrich got his version of the Oregon Ducks to the first college footb

all national title in just two years, taking over a program that had gotten to the previous version of the national championship in the second season under Chip Kelly. Unlike Kelly, though, Helfrich doesn't seem like the type of coach who will use the college game as a steppingstone to the National Football League.

And, there's not really any place to go in college football that's going to be more higher-profile that Oregon. So, for the foreseable future, it looks as though Oregon fans have their coach, and he's only going to get better ... at game management, program management, recruiting.

Recruiting gets its first major test with replacing Marcus Mariota - even though he hasn't officially announced he's leaving for the NFL.

With Braxton Miller, the Ohio State quarterback who has one season remaining and could transfer?

Miller will be a Heisman Trophy-level quarterback when he arrives, and Oregon is a school that expects that level of player at that position. The Ducks have two quarterbacks who were redshirting this past season, and sophomore Jeff Lockie as Mariota's back-up. Bringing in a transfer might be seen as unfortunate for those guys who are already in the system, but that's the level the Ducks are at now - national title contenders every year. The player who takes the snaps needs to be at that level, and if Miller does transfer in, the way to get snaps for the players currently in the system is to simply be better than he is.

Or wait for him to get injured. Ohio State had three quarterbacks capable of taking the team to the title game and winning. If Miller transfers in, that would give the Ducks at least one player at that level. The other quarterbacks would only benefit from that kind of competition in practice, and they've all got at least one more season of eleigibility left after 2015.

In Eugene, in might start to be rare - and hopefully it is this way - that a freshman gets to start at quarterback because the level of play ahead of him is at such a high level.

Off we go into Helfrich's third off-season, one of many more to come.

 

Time for a statement victory

Tue, 10/28/2014 - 9:13am
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In the wake of the disastrous loss to Arizona, the University of Oregon football team righted itself and moved directly back into the national title hunt thanks to what you might call ... routine victories.

UCLA, Washington, California. The offense scored nearly 49 points per game, and the defense showed itself to be good enough to hold opponents long enough to allow the offense to get separation on the scoreboard.

The games weren't all that special, other than some big stats being put up by quarterback Marcus Mariota and freshman tailback Royce Freeman. And, the return of Jake Fisher on the offensive line, which got the nation buzzing.

Those were routine wins - solid wins that were in doubt only for short moments. The Ducks only have to repeat that over and over through the Pac-12 Title Game. But, they could use what you might call a "Statement Win." A win that shows off they're where they were for the 46-27 win over Michigan State in Week 2, when the offense took over the second half at the same time the defense absolutely shut down the Spartans.

There's no better team to make this kind of statement against than Stanford, which played its way through the Ducks and into the Pac-12 Title Game the past two seasons, each time dropping Oregon out of the National Championship picture.

Offense on track. Defense on track - especially throughout the second half. Statement.

It certainly doesn't need to be 59-0, or 82-27, but a solid win that shows off to the nation the Ducks still own the Pac-12. Forget about the last two years with the Cardinal, and now Arizona, Oregon's in charge.

There's no Oregon fans who will complain for one second about a one-point win - the result only has to go into the win column. But, a Michigan State-level win is what the rabid UO faithful want, followed by another series of routine wins over Utah, Colorado and Oregon State. Then, another statement win over Arizona in the league title game. That should put some major flavor into the playoff semifinals, keep season tickets in high demand - and keep the recruits for coming seasons looking at Eugene as much as Tuscaloosa.

 

So much for a national title

Oregon rallies late, but still loses convincingly at Stanford Thursday
Nov. 7, 2013

Oregon's expected win at Stanford Thursday night didn't happen - to an exponential degree - and the Ducks likely lost their opportunity to play for the national championship with it.

Stanford dominated much of the first 48 minutes by scoring 26 points, then holding on as Oregon mounted a fourth-quarter comeback to produce a 26-20 score.

Oregon did have a glimmer of hope to win when it scored with 2 minutes left and kicked off needing an onside recovery. But, it didn't happen. Instead, the Cardinal beat the Ducks for the second consecutive year and likely earned coach Brian Shaw his third straight Coach of the Year award in the conference.

Oregon fell to 8-1 overall due to a loss none of its diehard fans saw possible.

Stanford slowed down the Oregon offense by dominating time of possession and forcing three turnovers (two fumbles and one on downs). Cardinal quarterback Kevin Hogan wasn't asked to do much (he attempted just 13 passes), but not much was required of him, as Stanford was content to use Tyler Gaffney as their workhorse on 45 carries and shortened the game by running the ball 66 times overall.

Stanford was set to put the game out of reach with a 40-yard field goal attempt that would have pushed the lead to 26-7, but the kick was blocked and Oregon's Rodney Hardrick and returned 65 yards for a touchdown.

The Ducks recovered an onside kick and tacked on a touchdown to make it interesting in the final moments, but they couldn't recover a second kick. From there, Stanford was able to run out the clock.

 

 

Stanford slowed down the Oregon offense by dominating time of possession and forcing three turnovers (two fumbles and one on downs). Cardinal quarterback Kevin Hogan wasn't asked to do much (he attempted just 13 passes), but not much was required of him, as Stanford was content to use Tyler Gaffney as their workhorse on 45 carries and shortened the game by running the ball 66 times overall.

Stanford was set to put the game out of reach with a 40-yard field goal attempt that would have pushed the lead to 26-9, but the kick was blocked and Oregon's Rodney Hardrick returned it 65 yards for a touchdown. The Ducks recovered an onside kick and tacked on a touchdown to make it interesting in the final moments, but they couldn't recover a second kick. From there, Stanford was able to run out the clock.


Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/sbnation/SBNation_20131108_Oregon_vs__Stanford_2013_final_score__Cardinal_knock_off_No__3_Ducks__26-20.html#UvVuq5YSP8hxeXtc.99

Building the franchise

Fri, 11/08/2013 - 12:24am
Cliff Pfenning
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Well, losing to Stanford in November is a lot better than losing to Alabama in January.

At least for this season.

That's the basic assessment of Thursday's loss by the University of Oregon football team at Stanford.

The score? Not important. It's only the result that really matters.

The officials? Not the deciding factor, but they definitely had a role in the outcome.

The SI Jinx? Maybe, but you can't win the nation's top college trophy without being on the cover of Sports Illustrated, so ... it's a good watercooler topic, if there are any watercoolers actually left.

UO football fans learned a lot about their franchise - it's way beyond being a college program these days - from the loss Thursday, and they're things that can be very helpful in the gameplan for winning the national championship. And, winning the national championship many years in a row, too. So, in some ways, Thursday's loss was helpful to the franchise, long-term.

There's a lot to assess.

First, is do we have the right coach?

Thursday's loss came in the same week that ESPN aired a program that followed Alabama's Nick Saban for six months as he guided players and coaches toward ultimate victory - the national championship. The Crimson Tide has won it the past two seasons, and three of the past four.

Is Mark Helfrich ready for that media attention? He needs to be, and with a lot of passion - for the media world. Thursday's loss didn't highlight what Helfrich did wrong, but that he doesn't seem to be on the same level as Saban, or Stanford coach Brian Shaw. They both took over successful programs and have kept them their, but they work in very different worlds of expectation. Helfrich is expected to win the national title every year. Shaw coaches with the goal of playing in the Rose Bowl, or even the national championship game.

Thursday showed off Helfrich's team does not yet have the urgency to overcome the type of game it might get with the national championship on the line. But, he seems to be a great hire.

Second, what happened to Marcus Mariota?

He never runs the ball forward. In watching the NFL, a group of young, successful quarterbacks have infused the league with their ability to run and pass with great efficiency, and that's how Mariota has been delivered to the media world - he's equally gifted at running and passing in an offense.

But, it's not true. Mariota actually seems afraid (or has been coached) into not running forward to save a broken play. The issue showed itself off numerous times Thursday - that Mariota seems more adept at looking for a receiver behind the line of scrimmage than running for a first down by using the open spaces created by his receivers.

It was a very frustrating loss to watch. Stanford seemed like the perfect game to show off the parts of the Oregon offense that had been held in reserve, the plays that would accentuate the basic run up the middle. Why show off all the plays in the UO playbook when the wins are all by 21 points or more? Save some for Stanford. Maybe Alabama. That was a theory coming out of games against Washington and UCLA.

But, they didn't seem to be saving any plays at all. Maybe they just don't have that many plays, starting with the read-option, where Mariota reads a defender and instinctively decides to hand the ball to a back or keep it himself and run. He never runs, so the play ends up as a basic run up the middle. What's exciting about that? And, that's one of the reasons Mariota is on the Heisman Watch.

Thursday's loss highlighted that Mariota should not be on the Heisman Watch. However you want to assess Johnny Manziel, it's not hard to think he would have guided Oregon to a big win Thursday just by running the ball forward when he needed.

Next, is Oregon's defense good enough to stop Alabama? Even though Stanford converted time and again on third down, Oregon's defense does seem good enough to slow down and eventually stop other teams - even ones that don't throw very often. Thursday's game had really just one bad play by the Oregon defense - a third-down conversion run by Kevin Hogan where three Ducks had a chance to stop him and none did before he ran out of bounds having gotten a first down.

Finally, how can the Pac-12 Conference fix its officials?

What a different outcome Thursday might have been if the second-quarter interception hadn't been overturned due to a pass interference penalty that could only be described as one of the worst calls of the year. But, the Pac-12 has issues from the Wisconsin at Arizona State game. And, the call ruled a fumble on the Ducks next drive? It could easily have been ruled not a fumble.

But, that's the kind of game Helfrich needs to be ready to guide his team to a win. They almost got there with their late rally, but even then the offense was still running the ball when it needed more than one score with less than four minutes left.

A very frustrating loss, but also one that might have been good for the long-term success of the franchise.

 

 

 

 

College football is the answer

Federal employees await a push from the real source of power
Oct. 1, 2013 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

So, if you were like me, you learned a lot about the federal government at 9 p.m. Monday night, Pacific time. That's when the federal government shut down.

My reaction was simple - what's that actually mean?

Will traffic lights still work? They will because they're managed by local governments.

Will schools still open their doors? Yes - local governments.

Will cable still operate? Yes - it's a private business.

The mail? Yes, still there because it's a business, too.

So, what's gonna happen to me?

Will I get a break from photo radar? No way.

Well, that's when the scrolling info on the bottom of my television informed me of the big ticket items:

National parks will be closed. That sucks, but it doesn't affect my daily life.

NASA will shut down. Again, bad news, but we already lost the Space Shuttle and our little guy on Mars doesn't need daily updates, so not a big issue.

Federal employees, many of whom manage the tax system, won't get paid.

And, retirement checks won't get mailed out - there's a big item for older citizens, which I'm not.

I'm basically not affected, other than to wonder if I still have to pay taxes for a government that's not officially working.

Of course I do, because Congress is still getting paid.

And, the military is still operating on foreign soil.

What really happened Monday night is the U.S. just looked stupid to the rest of the world. That's nothing against older Americans and people who operate the government - some of whom I know, but most of America isn't directly affected by the federal government.

Our Congress doesn't even care enough about the nation to pass a budget - a long-term budget, too - to keep itself operating.

Stupid.

Even the nations that have filed for bankruptcy have to be looking over to North America with distain.

That's when it hit me it's time for college football to step up and make the federal budget really important, because what's bad for America is bad for college football.

Yes, college football is the answer to the federal government. And, head coaches are in charge of their programs, so they should step up and make a statement for Americans.

Here's a challenge to the college football coaches of America to step aside on Saturday, or Thursday in the case of Texas, Iowa State, UCLA, Utah, Western Kentucky and Louisiana-Monroe.

Just don't coach, something that will challenge team captains and every player on the roster. Assistants should still work, although they should donate their pay to a non-profit, but the head coach, then every player, should just agree to stop.

How fast would Congress work to pass a budget? Tuesday night might happen, or Wednesday ... Thursday morning at the latest. Texas is playing, and Iowa State wants its chance to hammer the Longhorns just like BYU.

It's not just football, by the way, but college football, which is the most important part of virtually every state in the union. That's why college football head coaches are the highest paid public employee in every state but Alaska.

Pro football is a business, which is why it can shut down and the U.S. still goes about its business. Same thing with Major League Baseball, the NBA, the NHL. They can all cancel an entire season and still not affect daily life. But, not college football.

Hotels will suffer. Gas stations will suffer. Beer sales will suffer.

If college football were to stop, even for one week, every member of Congress would get voted out of office, even the people who will eventually be on the winning side because there isn't a winning side when the government stops paying itself and looks stupid to the world. Citizens might even hold Congress captive on Capitol Hill, letting members leave only when they agree to have "I stopped college football" tattoed on their foreheads.

College football head coaches are the real source of power in America, and this is their opportunity to showcase that fact on behalf of every American.

Again, here's the challenge to college football head coaches, make that statement for America:

"Congress, get back to work and pass a budget, or there will be pain. Real pain."

Helfrich tames first run through signing

Tyner and two other Oregonians sign with Oregon's new coach
Feb. 6, 2013

National Signing Day 2013 went off without a hitch for new University of Oregon football coach Mark Helfrich Wednesday as he got official written commitments from 19 incoming players, including 18 freshmen.

Helfrich, taking over for coach Chip Kelly, who moved to the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles last month, signed five offensive linemen, including Evan Voeller of West Linn and Doug Brenner of Jesuit, whose sister is a member of the Ducks' volleyball and women's basketball squads.

The Ducks also signed Aloha running back Thomas Tyner, one of the top recruits in the nation.

Oregon State signed 24 players, including five from junior colleges, and was rated the No. 9 recruiting class in the Pac-12 by Sports Illustrated.

Within the Pac-12, UCLA (No. 8), Southern Cal (No. 12), and Washington (No. 14) were all ranked in the top 14 by MaxPreps.

Portland State signed 21 players, including nine from Oregon. Hayden Plinke, a sophomore from Glencoe, played at Boise State last year and is one of five transfer students.

Here are the Oregon signings:

JUNIOR COLLEGE
Joe Walker, LB, 6-2, 225, So., Palos Verdes, CA (LA Harbor College/Palos Verdes HS)

HIGH SCHOOL
Devon Allen, WR, 6-0, 187, Phoenix, AZ (Brophy Prep)
Kani Benoit, RB, 6-0, 200, Phoenix, AZ (Phoenix Thunderbird HS)
Doug Brenner, OL, 6-2, 279, Portland, OR (Jesuit HS)
Darren Carrington, WR, 6-2, 186, San Diego, CA (Horizon HS)
Elijah George, OL, 6-5, 250, Las Vegas, NV (Arbor View HS)
Damion Hobbs, QB, 6-2, 195, Cedar Hill, TX (Cedar Hill HS)
Cameron Hunt, OL, 6-4, 265, Corona, CA (Centennial HS)
Danny Mattingly, LB, 6-5, 222, Spokane, WA (Mead HS)
John Mundt, TE, 6-4, 232, Modesto, CA (Central Catholic HS)
Jake Pisarcik, OL, 6-2, 290, Medford, NJ (Shawnee HS)
Torrodney Prevot, LB, 6-3, 214, Houston, TX (Alief Taylor HS)
Tyree Robinson, ATH, 6-4, 200, San Diego, CA (Lincoln HS)
Tyrell Robinson, ATH, 6-4, 201, San Diego, CA (Lincoln HS)
Chris Seisay, DB, 6-1, 177, American Canyon, CA (American Canyon HS)
Thomas Tyner, RB, 5-11, 201, Aloha, OR (Aloha HS)
Evan Voeller, OL, 6-5, 278, West Linn, OR (West Linn HS)
Juwaan Williams, ATH, 6-0, 181, Tucker, GA (Tucker HS)
Matt Wogan, PK/P, 6-2, 197, Indian Trail, NC (Porter Ridge HS)

Here are the OSU signings:

HIGH SCHOOL

Brandon Arnold              S          6-0       183      Winnetka, Calif. (Crespi)

Victor Bolden                 WR       5-9       165      Etiwanda, Calif. (Los Osos)

Titus Failauga                DE        6-4       240      Waipahu, Hawai’i (Pac-Five)

Michael Greer                LB        6-2       193      Palm Springs, Calif. (Palm Springs)

Sean Harlow                  OL        6-5       275      San Clemente, Calif. (San Clemente)

Damien Haskins             RB        5-9       213      New Boston, Texas (New Boston)

Manase Hungalu            LB        6-2       225      Kailua-Kona, Hawai’i (Kealakehe)

Dashon Hunt                  CB       5-10     175      Westlake, Calif. (Westlake)

Hunter Jarmon                WR       6-0       190      Waco, Texas (Midway)

Walter Jones                  WR       6-1       173      Redlands, Calif. (Redlands)

Kyle Kempt                    QB       6-5       200      Massillon, Ohio (Washington)

Fred Lauina                   OL/DL   6-3       270      Pago Pago, America Samoa (Tafuna)

Corey Lawrence             ATH      6-1       175      Del City, Okla. (Del City)

Lawrence Mattison         RB        6-1       225      Spring Branch, Texas (Smithson Valley)

Charles Okonkwo           CB       6-1       180      Fontana, Calif. (Summit)

Terin Solomon                LB        6-2       195      Murrieta, Calif. (Murrieta Valley)

Darrell Songy                 LB        6-1       220      Austin, Texas (John B. Connolly)

Justin Strong                  S          5-11     189      Rialto, Calif. (Summit)

Jordan Villamin               WR       6-5       205      Fontana, Calif. (Etiwanda)

JUNIOR/COMMUNITY COLLEGE SIGNEES

Player                           Pos       HT        WT       Hometown (High School/JC)

Edwin Delva                   DT        6-3       290      Miami, Fla. (North Miami Beach HS/Antelope Valley)

Siale Hautau                  DT        6-0       315      Ephraim, Utah (Skyline/Snow)

Steven Nelson               CB       6-0       185      Warner Robins, Ga. (Northside/College of Sequoias)

Kyle Peko                      DT        6-2       295      La Habra, Calif. (La Habra/Cerritos CC)

Lyndon Tulimasealii        DE        6-4       270      Anchorage, Alaska (W. Anchorage/College of the Desert)

 

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