Every Sunday I get a chance to talk to Mark Helfrich at the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex in an interview for FishDuck.com. Normally the talk is pretty good; he mentions a few of the pros and cons from the game, and all the media get to go home happy. This time though, the air in the room felt different. Helfrich, normally a pretty cheerful and joking man, was quiet. He’d seen what we all had, but he’d also heard the screams of Pharaoh Brown following his leg injury. He watched WR Tim Patrick of Utah shatter his leg. This was a hard game to come out of feeling good about, no matter the circumstances of the win.
When I asked Helfrich about Brown’s condition, he said, “Pharaoh didn’t travel with the team. He wasn’t allowed to travel due to the nature of the injury.” Brown, who is of course devastated, is most likely resigned to a hospital in Salt Lake City for the next week while being kept company by family and members of the training staff. Helfrich looked pale, summarizing the game by saying, “It was a tough game. Thankfully the medical staff did an excellent job under horrible circumstances.”
Helfrich went on to mention some things from the game he felt the team still needed to work on, mentioning primarily, “Eyes were off…pad level on both sides of the ball, edges on defense…and offensively we had a ton of drops.” He did attribute some of the mistakes to the fact that with so many injuries this team seems to keep getting younger and younger, but he also said that watching fellow players go down can cause a few slip-ups just because a player’s emotions will get the best of him.
Helfrich did give a lot of credit to his team though, saying, “[Utah] is an excellent team. Unbelievably physical, unbelievably relentless…to beat them there was something special.” Coming out with a win there will most likely be the hardest game the Ducks play all season, but it also secured the Ducks a spot in the PAC-12 Championship game.
Finally, Helfrich mentioned the players of the game. Not surprisingly, Marcus Mariota took offensive honors. On the defensive side of the ball, DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead shared honorable mentions while Joe Walker took the defensive player of the game credit. On special teams it was Juwaan Williams and Aidan Schneider.
Needless to say, everyone on the team is eager to put this game behind them and move on. It was a big win — there’s no denying that — but the losses of Pharaoh Brown and Hroniss Grasu will be a huge hit to the Ducks’ success. Needless to say, this bye week could not be coming at a better time.
Top photo by Kevin Cline