Oregon gets trampled in Desert

The Ducks put Stanford back into the Rose Bowl with loss
Nov. 23, 2013 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

Mark Helfrich got a lot of face time during Saturday's game at Arizona, so the nation knows who he is now. And, he's already headed for a hot seat after his program got absolutely trounced by the host Wildcats.

Not only did the Ducks get stomped by an inspired group of players, they openly got beat-up by the media for some comments made by players that they weren't all that excited about heading back to the Rose Bowl because they had been there before. Never mind that the still needed to win three games to get to the Rose Bowl.

So, they got their wish.

For the second year-in-a-row, Stanford, not Oregon, will play for the Pac-12 Title and Oregon is headed for a non-BCS bowl game. Fans will get to travel to somewhere other than Pasadena or Phoenix or Miami this year.

Oregon still needs to beat Oregon State to avoid playing somewhere like New Mexico.

The game against Oregon State, and Arizona, looked like blowouts earlier in the month, but then the Ducks hit some major snags - mostly inside the opponents 10-yard-line, but also on the sideline.

Oregon has looked terrible on the sideline, and that's Helfrich's domain. When players look lost and uninspired, the first place media and fans look is the head coach. Helfrich hasn't performed so well in that category. He's no Chip Kelly.

There's still a lot to be learned about Helfrich, who hadn't been the top guy in any program before taking over earlier in the year when Kelly left for the NFL.

Against Stanford, players openly seemed distraught on the sideline as the Cardinal built a 26-0 lead in the fourth quarter.

Then, the team bounced back and got within a touchdown of producing a magical victory. After a bland victory last week over Utah, the team seemed to just fall apart at Arizona, unable to stop the Wildcats' running game and unable to finish drives.

It's crazy to think a 9-2 record is underachieving, but it is, especially when the season started with tours of the new football team practice facility, and then a spot on the cover of Sports Illustrated heading into the game at Stanford.

The slide can't be centered on the defense, as it's truly done its part to produce wins. The offense just hasn't done its part, through turnovers and stalled drives. The play-calling on offense has become a disaster and Marcus Mariota has turned into someone getting outplayed by former junior college walk-ons.

Wow, what a month November has been for the Ducks. And, Helfrich, who is now the head of a powerhouse program that's back amongst the ranks of "beatable" for just about anyone they play.

We're going to learn a lot more about Mark Helfrich in the coming weeks, especially this week when he gets compared to Mike Riley at Oregon State.







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