By Rob Moseley
Venue: Autzen Stadium
As kickoff approaches Saturday in Husky Stadium between No. 2 Oregon and No. 16 Washington, Mark Helfrich will take the temperature of his team’s temperament.
Last week at Colorado, the Ducks by their own admission came out flat. The Buffaloes compounded that with some early trick plays to seize momentum, though Oregon ultimately woke up and took a 29-10 lead after the first quarter.
“I thought we had a really good week of practice, but as the kickoff approached, there was just a different feel to our guys,” Helfrich said today following the Ducks’ walk-through. “We talked about it, and hopefully we’ve remedied that situation.”
In talking with a few other people around the program this week, I’ve heard the same thing. They had some concerns entering the Colorado game, and weren’t shocked by the way the game started. Having only been “inside” the program a couple months, those were signs I clearly missed.
As for this week, it will be closer to game time before Helfrich will know whether those concerns have truly been put to rest. Based on a team’s normal personality – some are largely gregarious pregame, some are mostly withdrawn – a coach will look to see if the guys are acting in character, or bucking the trend.
“We’re generally probably a little bit looser, more confident operation, and we were quieter (at Colorado),” Helfrich said. “There was just not that urgent edge you want on gameday.
“Other teams I’ve been a part of, if they’re talking too much it’s a bad thing. It’s kind of just getting to know everybody’s personality and making sure we’re focused.”
Why that was the case last week, it’s hard to say. But Helfrich took responsibility, and doesn’t expect it will be the case again.
“I think our guys will be ready to go,” he said.
Other observations: Today’s practice was Oregon’s walk-through, a low-tempo, mental day of work to reinforce the concepts they practiced at full speed the last three days. So, no highlights, because there really aren’t any. … Some coaching concepts transcend an individual sports. “Gotta bend your knees,” Oregon’s linebackers were reminded at one point today, and surely men’s basketball coach Dana Altman would have been proud. … Up next is the Ducks’ “Fast Friday” workout, in which they ramp the intensity back up entering Saturday’s game.