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:
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.
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 footballscoop.com.
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.
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.