More Air-Time For Mariota in 2013?

I have been picking up on some interesting signs lately in regards to the Ducks, Mark Helfrich, and how the next era of Oregon offense could potentially go.  Now, I am definitely not psychic; if I was I would have won the lottery by now and I would be paying somebody to write this for me.  Or maybe I would have a robot constructed to generate my thoughts while I lounge by my pool.  But in my humble opinion, I feel that Oregon will be ramping up their passing offense under new coach Mark Helfrich, and this is why:

New Head Coach Mark Helfrich

Mark Helfrich – Helfrich has an extensive background on the Collegiate level, with almost all of his experience coming as quarterbacks coach.  He started his career as a graduate assistant for Oregon before following offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter to Boise State to become their quarterbacks coach.  At Boise, Helfrich coached QB Bart Hendricks, who went on to win Big West Conference player of the year in 1999 and 2000.  In 2000, Boise St. was top-4 in the nation in passing, with Hendricks leading the nation in touchdown passes (35).

After his stint at Boise, Helfrich again followed Koetter to Arizona State, to be the QB coach of Andrew Walter, who in turn broke practically every passing record — including John Elway’s Pac-10 touchdown record.  In 2006, Helfrich left Arizona State to become the offensive coordinator of Colorado, and after 3 years ended up at Oregon as the offensive coordinator, and (surprise!) the quarterbacks coach.  His role at Oregon centered mainly around coaching the QB’s, as everyone knows Chip Kelly called his own plays while relying on Helfrich to be his eye in the sky.

Wide Receiver coach Matt Lubick tossing the pigskin around

The proof is in the pudding so far with what he has done with Marcus Mariota.  In his first year as a quarterback Mariota passed for 2,677 yards and 32 touchdowns with just 6 interceptions.  He finished his freshman campaign as the 6th most efficient QB in the nation — very impressive stats.  It goes without saying that Helfrich knows how to use, and more importantly develop, his quarterbacks.  Also, Helfrich promoted Scott Frost to offensive coordinator.  Frost was previously the wide receivers coach for Oregon.  So Oregon’s head coach is a former QB coach and their offensive coordinator is a former wide receivers coach…interesting.

Matt Lubick – The Ducks went big with their wide receivers coach in hiring Lubick.  He was on almost every assistant coaching award watch list in 2012.  He was one of three finalists for the American Football Coaches Association’s assistant coach of the year, and was named the wide receiver’s coach of the year by

If you haven’t checked out Duke’s wide receivers stats for 2012, you need to — they are off the charts.  I find it hard to believe that Helfrich could lure a coach like Lubick away with an offering of teaching receivers how to block rather than catch passes.

Commit Darren Carrington taking in an Oregon game

2013 Recruits -  The first player to commit under Helfrich was wide receiver Devon Allen, a 4 -star speedster who has set multiple track records.  With Allen being the only receiver commit in the class due to Darren Carrington and Tyree Robinson looking around, Helfrich had to make a good case to both to get them back on board.  That is exactly what he did.  It is hard to speculate on what he said to pitch the two wide receivers, but I believe it had to do something with upping the air-attack.

If you watch this video, you can get a hint of what might have been said, at least to Carrington, as the Robinson’s were a packaged deal and they had to also pitch Tyrell for the defense.  “It’s very exciting, especially with Helfrich going to head coach and the wide receiver coach going to offensive coordinator. There gonna start throwing the ball a little more, so that’s not a factor”, said Carrington.  Hmm, I wonder why he would possibly think that?

Now, I don’t think that Oregon will start throwing the ball as much as, say, USC.  They definitely will not abandon the running game with the stable of talented backs that they have.  I feel with Helfrich’s background, the recent moves in coaching positions, and the overall reaction from recruits, that Oregon is poised pass more in 2013.  With a quarterback as elite as Marcus Mariota, there would be no better time than the present to take advantage of the present excess of riches.





Print Friendly
Sam Arney

Sam Arney

Sam was born and raised in Cottage Grove, Oregon and he has been a die hard Duck fan his entire life. Sam studied at the University of Oregon before moving to San Diego for 5 years. After moving back to Oregon, Sam decided to follow his passion for writing and started writing for various sports sites. To him, nothing is better than being in Autzen Stadium with 59,000 fans screaming their heads off!

  • I believe you are correct Sam on all the points you mentioned. The running game will be utilized the same as always, but throwing the ball will also be increased a tad more. I think the staple of the ducks attack is definitely running and you indicated that you think it will not be abandoned, but blocking is still a very important part of the receiving game.
    Now, I have a question for you. Do you think that practices will be continued the same as always? No stoppage for individual instruction, but still continue as it was with Chip Kelly, running off 90 plus plays in practice and relying more on the practice film to individualize instruction. I hope this is the case. The players seemed to take pride in the way they practiced. I hope they do not abandon that aspect of the changes Chip brought to the university.

    • The Truth

      Sam has no idea about Oregon Duck practices, he has never attended one.

    • Sam Arney

      Michael, I believe Helfrich will keep up the pace in practices but not quite as fast as Kelly did. He is more of a face to face hands on guy. He will also continue to utilize the film as Kelly did, especially with the new facilities they are building that will allow for more media rooms to further individualize the process among players. Despite what my apparent article stalker says that reads my articles only to insult me. I have been to many practices before they were closed to the public. Thank you for your comment!

  • While I agree that Oregon will throw more next year, I also believe this article is a bit of a sham.

    Oregon was Goin to throw a bit more regardless of if Kelly stuck around or Helf took over. They will still be a run first team, however with a proven QB and now a veteran receivers, coupled with young and relatively unproven RB’s, they were gonna pass more ANYWAYS.

    Chip wasn’t against passing, he just never really had a QB with an arm and intelligence to do so, except Dixon, 6 yrs ago…

    Point is you are not phsycic, just born with a little common sense…

    • Sam Arney

      It is pretty obvious to anyone who knows much about football that Oregon is going to pass more this year because of the running backs situation and with how good Mariota is. What I am saying is that I think Helfrich is going to make a concerted effort to pass more than most people think not because of those factors but because that is what he actually wants to do and will move towards passing more in general, even when they figure out the running backs. Which would include adding different packages we didn’t see under Kelly. Thank you for your comment.

  • They should throw more. 2 words – Colt Lyerla. If you think back over the past few years we have been stacked at TE. And when we are in trouble, we go to them. We shouldn’t wait until we are in trouble. In the Fiesta Bowl our 2nd QTR was horrible. Couple quick up the middle passes to Colt and everything opens up. Make him a threat early and often, it will free up the run game AND prevent double teams on our WR’s. (plus it doesn’t hurt making safeties and CB’s take a couple beating trying to drag that beast down early in the game!)

    • Sam Arney

      Well said!