The Ducks’ “Win The Day” slogan embodies just about everything that the Oregon football team stands for. You win by any means necessary, and you focus solely on the task at hand. Oregon has been winning a lot this season, but it hasn’t been easy. Despite battling through injuries, and even losing a few key players for an extended amount of time, the Ducks’ coaching staff has excelled at keeping players ready and engaged.
In an interview for FishDuck.com on Thursday, I spoke with Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich at the University of Oregon’s Hatfield-Dowlin Complex.
Oregon’s redshirt freshmen Doug Brenner is expected to make his first career start this Saturday when the Ducks host the Colorado Buffaloes. Although the severity of Hroniss Grasu’s knee injury is still unknown, the Ducks hope to have their All-American center back in the lineup soon, but coach Helfrich says he’s pleased with the improvements that he’s seen from Brenner in practice.
“Doug has done a nice job; Doug has been doing a good job for a long time and he’s earned some playing time,” Helfrich said. “He’s a competitive guy, a proud guy, and he’s done a nice job.”
Evan Baylis is also expected to make his first start and get the majority of the snaps at tight end for the remainder of the season. Pharaoh Brown‘s production was paramount to Oregon’s success; however Baylis, the 6’6, 250-lb. redshirt sophomore, has shown glimpses of his athletic and catching abilities in the past, and Helfrich expects Baylis and the rest of the tight end group to be ready.
“He (Baylis) along with Johnny Mundt and Koa Ka’ai have all done some really good things this week. Those are guys that we expect to play great and they’ve done a lot of good things,” Helfrich said. “Pharaoh (Brown) was playing at an elite level, and we expect those guys to do the same.”
The Ducks are itching to get back on the field because they haven’t played since November 8, but coach Helfrich says the time off has given the team a chance to regroup, and he believes the extra rest will enable them to be prepared on Saturday.
“The most important part is them (the players) thinking they’re fresh and them thinking they’re hitting hard, which they’re doing.” Helfrich added, “They’re in great shape, now we just have to go out and play.”
Top Photo by Gary Breedlove