Coach Helfrich Has Faith in ‘Next Man Up’ Mantra

"The thing about Spring Ball is it comes in waves of who has the upper hand. We want enthusiasm on both sides, no matter what happened.

John Sperry

“The thing about Spring Ball is … we want enthusiasm on both sides, no matter what happened.”

Oregon’s spring game is less than three weeks away, and there is still much to be done to prepare, but head coach Mark Helfrich seems far from worried. My colleague Ashley Young met up with Helfrich to discuss what comes next for Oregon’s practice.

Naturally, the first thing brought up was the impending quarterback battle. At this point, there has been no major separation between the quarterbacks in terms of how much practice they are getting, and that is just how Helfrich likes it.

“In terms of the playing, every one is pretty much getting equal reps. Jeff Lockie got a few extra, he has become the player who sneaks in and steals reps every now and then. We have no time table for when we will know the starter, but Jeff and those guys have made a lot of good mistakes, which is a good thing. We will continue to watch and observe. The thing about Spring Ball is it comes in waves of who has the upper hand. We want enthusiasm on both sides, no matter what happened.”

It seems as though Helfrich is tactically not favoring any quarterback, in order to let every man get his fair share of experience at practice, regardless of who starts. However, there is still that outside pressure to find a quarterback equivalent or at least comparable to Marcus Mariota. Yet, Helfrich is more concerned with the other 10 offensive players on the field, than the quarterback.

“Our expectations for every position are better, regardless of if it is a new guy, or the backup. Whoever goes in, we expect elite play out of [them]. Quarterback is the position that relies on everybody else. You can do your job perfectly at the quarterback position, but if one or two guys do not do their jobs, it does not matter.”

Jef Lockie has established himself as a contender for the starting job, and Helfrich knows it.

Kevin Cline

Jef Lockie has established himself as a contender for the starting job, and Helfrich knows it.

When asked what is left to be done in practice until spring game, Helfrich has only one word: confidence.

“We have to get guys believing in what they’re doing. For example, two wide outs that are on similar paths are Alex Ofodile and Jalen Brown. Brown has had only so many more practices (than Alex) under his belt but he is playing faster because he believes in what he is doing. Where as Alex knows everything and what he is supposed to do, but just is not confidant enough.”

Helfrich has certainly held on to Chip Kelly‘s “next man up” mentality, and from the looks of it, he will have plenty of choices for who that next man will be.

Top photo by John Sperry

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