Pac-12 notes: Oregon's offense, Colorado rebuilding

BY foxsports • July 26, 2013

CULVER CITY, Calif. -- Oregon's Mark Helfrich may be a rookie head coach, but he's no stranger to football, or quarterbacks.

Helfrich spent the previous three seasons as Oregon's offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach under Chip Kelly, who left in the offseason to take the helm for the Philadelphia Eagles. Helfrich also served as the QBs coach at Boise State, Arizona State and Colorado before joining the Ducks staff in 2009.

So Helfrich knows he's got a good thing going with the talented Marcus Mariota returning (2,677 yards passing, 32 TDs in 2012) and a boatload of offensive weapons to mix and match, led by the versatile speedster De'Anthony Thomas.

Bottom line: Expect points, lots of them.

"We want to score. We don't care about the method," Helfrich said at Pac-12 Media Day on Thursday at Sony Studios. "If (linebacker) Ifo (Ekpre-Olomu) has a pick-6, I'm all for that. If we throw it or run it or kick-return it, I don't care.  We're going to take advantage of what the defense gives us and they can dictate to a certain extent how the run game goes and obviously the play-action pass and we have had success with that during our tenure, comes out of that.

"But as far as ratio and numbers, this guy (Mariota) is the best quarterback in the country but he doesn't care how many passing yards he has, he cares what it says before and after the hyphen in the team record and that's how we operate."

As far as Thomas' expanding roll, Helfrich said, "... he likes to be a moving target that doesn't lineup in one position all the time and certainly we like that, too. That's a position where we don't have a ton of depth, but De'Anthony likes the role of wide-out, motion guy, movement guy and we like that, too."

Mariota earned high praise from Stanford coach David Shaw.

"I think you've got probably the best complete quarterback in the nation up in Oregon," Shaw said.

"My main focus is to continue to get better with my team and look forward to the season," Mariota added.

REBUILDING PROCESS

Colorado has been, for the lack of a better word, laughable on the field as of late. Since 2010, the Buffaloes are 9-28.

New coach Mike MacIntyre knows a thing or two about putting the pieces back together. When MacIntyre took over at San Jose State in 2010, the Spartans finished 1-12. By the time last season ended, San Jose State finished 10-2, including a bowl victory over Bowling Green.

The challenges at Colorado are great, but MacIntyre is ready.

"I think one of the things that we will be able to do, we have to develop trust in our young men and they have to trust us, we have to trust them," MacIntyre  said. "I have a phenomenal coaching staff.  I think that's one of the reasons we will be successful and also our overall program ... it's not just Mike MacIntyre, I can promise you that.  It's me, the whole group of people that I have with me and the University and the fans backing us all they can.

"... it wasn't too long ago Colorado was one of the top 15 programs in the country year in, year out. We need to get back there."

MacIntyre says he learned from his dad, George, who turned around the programs at Tennessee-Martin (1975-77) and Vanderbilt (1979-85) during his coaching tenure.

"I guess it's a little bit in my DNA. My dad did the same thing; I watched him rebuild two programs that everyone said could never within win and they did," Mike MacIntyre said. "I watched him change the culture."

CHECK THE SKED

College football is no longer just for Saturdays, with games consistently on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday during the season.

While it may be great for the college football fanatic, for coaches, it requires plenty of tweaking to schedules and scripts.

Count Arizona coach Rich Rodriquez a fan of the mid-week game, and he adjusts the Wildcats' plans accordingly.

"The midweek is a little different, but fortunately I've played a few throughout my career.  I love the Thursday night games; I think it's great exposure," Rodriguez said. "You move the calendar back and treat Thursday like it's Saturday and make your schedule accordingly and you have a 10-day window. When it's tough is when you have a five-day window and as long as it was the same for both teams that never bothered me but the way our league does it is, you have a 10-day window to get ready for it and it should be fun for our guys."

ON THE NCAA

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott spent several minutes of his opening statement discussing his thoughts on the NCAA, and what must be done to improve the system moving forward.

"It's clear right now they are at a crossroads. It's time for a new vision," Scott said. "I believe there is a responsibility of the major conferences to provide thought leadership and articulate a future vision for college athletics. If we fail to do so we forfeit the right to complain about the status quo."

"The movement and change over the past few years has transformed college athletics in many respects, introduced new and lucrative revenue streams, TV deals, raised important questions about student-athletes' welfare and at the same time, there has been an eroding trust in the NCAA and its reform agenda. This is the time to initiate change.  Unlike some of what you've heard this week I believe we should be pursuing the strategy of evolution rather than radical overhaul.

 "... the answer from my perspective is not break‑away but to evolve into something better."

SHOW STOPPER

Mike Leach is never at a loss for words. Read what he said at Pac-12 media day.

PRESEASON PICKS

Oregon was tabbed by the media as the Pac-12 preseason favorite.


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