Oregon practice recap: Helfrich talks special teams and progression of Mariota

Coach Mark Helfrich talks redshirts,special teams and passing coordinator Matt Lubick during the third week of preseason camp practices. (Andrew Seng/Emerald)

Coach Mark Helfrich talks redshirts,special teams and passing coordinator Matt Lubick during the third week of preseason camp practices. (Andrew Seng/Emerald)

Posted by Hayden Kim on Monday, Aug. 19 at 5:40 pm.

The Ducks returned to practice after the weekend as they wrapped up their last competition day of fall camp this afternoon. Following “an intense helmets only practice this morning,” Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich said he was pleased with where his team stood. Despite the feeling that both the offense and defense had lost a little bit of focus at today’s practice, Helfrich was still adamant about the great effort his team has been giving throughout camp.

Helfrich began by touching on a dominant defensive performance that was showcased in the scrimmage this afternoon. This marked a sweep for the defense in regards to competitions with the offense.

“The defense got out the brooms and swept the offense,” Helfrich said. ”I can’t remember the final score, but it was about a seven or eight point differential.”

Helfrich mentioned the level of effort his team has been giving these last few weeks.

“Kind of partially by design, but we lost a bit of focus I thought on both sides of the ball at different times,” Helfrich said. “But that’s why you try to spark it with a competition day because you’re in that phase of camp.”

Even with these feelings, Helfrich said he was still happy about the intensity his team has been giving on a daily basis; pointing out that today was just more of an exception.

“They work their tails off and certainly it’s natural at some point to check the time clock, but our guys in general, that’s a huge exception,” Helfrich said. “I think more so right now we’re in the phase where the young guys are starting to learn how to practice, how to get through the grind and it’s neat to see the older guys step up and help them out. But as far as that goes, again, I’m pleased.”

Helfrich then discussed the importance of the special teams, especially at this time of the year.

“Probably most importantly at this time of the year it’s special teams driven,” Helfrich said. “If a guy is going to be a key contributor on special teams, he’s going to play. So there’s a lot of those young guys, a lot of that young talent that has really shown itself on special teams.”

To finish things off, Helfrich touched base with Marcus Mariota’s progression as a player and how special he has shown to be during practice.

“He’s had a few of those ‘wow’ moments where everybody kind of looks at each other. I remember when De’Anthony, his first carry as a true freshman, he took the ball basically and was running whatever his 40 time was — four nothing to right, four nothing to the left and everybody kind of looked at each other and there’s been a few of those with Marcus this camp.”

Helfrich then moved on to mention some ways in which Mariota can continue to improve as player in virtually all facets of the game.

“Mechanics, footwork, timing, knowledge, leadership; all the things that he has gotten better at and can still get better at — and that’s the neat part — he still has some ability and desire to get better,” Helfrich said. “He’s a fun guy to coach, no question.”

The next scrimmage for the Ducks will be this Thursday, but until then, check back here following practice tomorrow for more news/recaps.