Mark Helfrich is no stranger to the Colorado football program. Helfrich got his start there in 2006, becoming the youngest offensive coordinator in the history of Division 1 Football. With that being said, he showed no mercy towards his former team as his Ducks ran over the Buffaloes on their way to a 34-point victory. I got a chance to talk to Coach Helfrich tonight at the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex in an interview for FishDuck.com.
As his second year as Oregon’s head coach approaches an end, I asked him if losing this year’s seniors would mean more to him than any of those previous. He acknowledged that this group was different to him saying, “So much of what has to do with what makes these guys so special has zero to do with wins and losses and has zero to do with football.” Helfrich has watched them develop, and as the winningest group of players in Duck football history, seeing them leave is going to be one tough pill to swallow. He went on to add that what makes them so special has “everything to do with who they are…a bunch of great guys. It’s been a great run.”
In what was many key players’ last game at Autzen — Erick Dargan, Troy Hill, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Keanon Lowe, among others — Helfrich also talked about how nice it was to let some of the guys who don’t get to see the field as much get a chance to play. He said, in reference to Ayele Forde and Kenny Bassett, “We didn’t go in to this game thinking at this time we’re going to put in this guy because we’re gonna be up by X. We gave [Colorado], as we give everybody, our absolutely best shot. At the same time it was great for those guys to get into the game.” In their last game at Autzen, a lot of seniors who otherwise hardly ever do got to play, and for Helfrich that was the biggest statement of the entire game.
Now with the emotions piling on, the stress of Thanksgiving week, the Civil War and finally all the doubt surrounding Marcus Mariota and his future with the school, one can only imagine the difficulty for Helfrich in keeping his team focused on the task at hand. When talking about how he was planning to handle this week he said, “This week is a ‘normal week’ with the exception of the holiday in terms of how we are going to work.” He went on to mention the importance of holidays being spent with families, so he said, “We’re going to get our players and our coaches and our staff as normal of a Thanksgiving as possible.”
Top photo by Craig Strobeck