Mark Helfrich Dishes, on the Beavers, Sean Mannion, and the Civil War

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From the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex at University of Oregon for FishDuck.com

Three days out from the 2014 edition of the Civil War, Ducks head coach Mark Helfrich discussed the upcoming game, one of the oldest — and fiercest — rivalries in college football.

On the Beavers

As we jostled for position at this morning’s media scrum, one of my colleagues pointed out to Helfrich that while the

Celebration

From Video

Celebration

Beavers have had a tumultuous last ten years, they’re undefeated against top-ten ranked teams. Helfrich was asked what that says about the Ducks’ opponent this Friday.

“They’re really good,” he immediately replied. “They’re extremely talented, and, you know, there’s been some games where you flip it on and it’s been substantially different and again, you know, there’s some ways you’d be a billionaire if you could answer the question why people are ready one week and not as much the next week. And it also says a lot about our conference and how deep it is. But there’s a bunch of games where they look really scary, and we know we’re gonna get that version, and all the more reason to just worry about us and our preparation.”

On Sean Mannion

As goes Sean Mannion, one of the most prolific passers in college football history, so go the Beavers. When asked whether he appreciates Mannion’s career, Helfrich quipped, “Oh yeah, absolutely, he’s a fantastic football player. Tough guy, manages things well, one of the best deep ball throwers I think has ever been – his great, great placement on deep balls I think is rare. Working with a total group of new receivers, a bunch of guys that are developing maybe a bit too fast for our liking … but just an outstanding player. Big arm but can put touch on it, great job in the screen game.”

Sean Mannion

From Video

Sean Mannion

In his usual diplomatic, saying-a-lot-but-revealing-nothing manner, Helfrich explained that in order to contain Mannion, “You have to change things up. You have to blitz him, you have to play coverage, you have to change up the coverages, but you know, he’s such a polished guy, a veteran, there’s not too many things he hasn’t seen, it’s just a matter of trying to stay, you know, one step ahead of him.”

Not a lot of useful ammo for OSU strategists there.

On Corvallis

Speaking of not a lot of ammo, in the greatest understatement of our chat with the Oregon skipper, it was suggested that the atmosphere in Corvallis might be described as slightly “hostile.” When asked how he feels about playing there, Helfrich responded with his usual (maddening, no doubt, for Beavers fans) diplomacy.

Ugly in Orange.

Kevin Cline

Ugly in Orange.

“I love it. I love playing in those kinds of places. They [the fans] do a great job. They’re very creative, and it’s a great atmosphere, a highly competitive atmosphere, and again, it makes you hone in on what your job is that much more, makes you rally the troops that much more, stay together that much more, and take care of your business.”

Uh yeah, creative. Like the Beavs fans in 1953, who caught some Ducks supporters trying to burn a big “O” in a Corvallis lawn during the lead-up to that year’s Civil War. Oregon State students grabbed their rivals from Eugene, stripped them to the waist, and painted them orange and black. Then for good measure, they flattened all the tires of the Oregon group’s car, and painted it black and orange, too.

Imagine. Being stuck overnight in Corvallis. I’m sure there are worse things in this world, but they don’t occur to me at the moment.

 

Top photo by Gary Breedlove

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Randy Morse

Randy Morse

Randy Morse (Editor and Writer) is a native Oregonian, a South Eugene High and U of O grad (where he played soccer for the Ducks, waaay back in ’70-‘71). After his doctoral work at the University of Alberta he launched a writing & publishing career – that plus his love of mountaineering has taken him all over the world. An award-winning artist, musician, broadcaster, and author, he’s written 8 books – his writing on media & democracy earned him the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting’s 2014 Dalton Camp Award. He swears he taught LaMarcus Aldridge his patented fade-way jump shot, and is adamant that if he hadn’t left the country (and was a foot taller) he would be the owner of a prosperous chain of fast food outlets and a member of the NBA Hall of Fame by now. If there is a more rabid Ducks fan in the known universe, this would come as a major surprise to Morse’s long-suffering family. He resides in the tiny alpine village of Kaslo, British Columbia.