Helfrich downplays Ducks' problems

Oregon football coach Mark Helfrich did his best to calm fears about the program Saturday, but I’m not sure anybody is buying it.

On Saturday morning, ESPN College GameDay had a feature on the Ducks, including a sitdown interview between reporter Tom Rinaldi and Helfrich.

During the interview, Helfrich looked low-energy and somewhat depressed. No passion. No fire.

Oregon’s slogan since Chip Kelly took over as head coach is “Win the Day.”

Helfrich was asked how many days the Ducks have been winning lately.

“The majority. I would say the majority, and the biggest thing again to get over the top is those little tiny moments, those little tiny details — there’s 1,000 of them, and if you get 997 of them correct, it’s the three you don’t get right that decide the game,” Helfrich said.

Does anybody really believe that Oregon is getting 997 of every 1,000 things right?

Obviously, he was exaggerating, but the problem is that he continues to downplay the problems.

RECRUITING RANKINGS

Is recruiting responsible for the Oregon Ducks' struggles this season, or is something else to blame? Here's a look at the Ducks' recruiting class national rankings for each of the past 10 years, according to scout.com:

2016: 22
2015: 21
2014: 22
2013: 17
2012: 15
2011: 13
2010: 13
2009: 26
2008: 23
2007: 9

Oregon just lost 70-21 to Washington, and the Ducks haven’t won a game since Sept. 10.

After that devastating loss, veteran offensive lineman Cameron Hunt said that between 30 and 40 percent of Oregon’s players don’t care if the team wins or loses.

Helfrich’s reaction to those comments?

“That’s emotion,” Helfrich told ESPN. “No. 1, it’s not true. And then No. 2, if it is true, that’s not the time or the place to discuss it. Within our program is where we take care of that kind of stuff.”

A four-game losing streak has turned up the pressure on Helfrich and his staff.

“Right now at the moment, we’re six games in, there still is an opportunity to turn this a little bit, and start to see some positive results,” Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens said during the broadcast. “And we’ve got to continue to support the coaches, support the student-athletes and see what we can make of this season.”

Sadly, the Ducks aren’t going to make much of this season. The issues are too deep, and right now they don’t have the right players.

Kirk Herbstreit said it best.

“The facts are, Oregon, for maybe a five- or six-year span, when Chip Kelly was there with Nick Aliotti, that combination and evaluating high school football talent, not five-star, four-star, three-star, two-star, they found guys that fit with what they were doing on both sides of the ball,” Herbstreit said during the broadcast.

“And they were the team with the new uniforms that played faster than anybody else, that had freaky athletes on both sides of the ball. And when you look at those teams and those players, and you look at the team now. We can talk about injuries and talk about playing a lot of young players, but even when they’re healthy, I don’t see the same caliber of athlete that we saw there for, like I said, five or six years.”

That’s where the concern lies with Ducks fans. Can Helfrich bring in the talent Oregon used to get? Right now, it doesn’t seem so.

Lee Corso said it’s crunch time for Helfrich and his staff.

“He’s got the rest of the season, six games, to salvage it,” Corso said on the broadcast. “If not, it’s over for him. I’m afraid to tell you, it’s now or never for Mark.”


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