Mark Helfrich: ‘A million little details’ help lead to Oregon’s third loss of season

Oregon’s problems continued persist Saturday and the damage seems to be getting increasingly worse. This time, the painful result was a 45-38, double overtime loss to Washington State – a game in which the Ducks led by 10 in the fourth quarter.

The loss puts the Ducks at 3-3 this season and leaves a number of questions unsolved with the bulk of their Pac-12 schedule still on tap. It’s an unfamiliar position for Mark Helfrich, who has lost as many regular season games in the first six games of 2015 as he did in his first two years as a head coach. His philosophy to manage this turning tide is straightforward.

“Work,” Helfrich said at his Sunday press conference.

Helfrich also discussed questions pertaining to Washington State’s touchdowns at the end of each half, the expectations coming into the season and what the transition is like after losing a Heisman trophy winner.

When you look at the film, what were you pleased with, what were you disappointed with from last night’s game?

Pleased with how hard we played. We played hard in every phase. We’re doing a lot of good things in that way, and that’s a huge deal. First and foremost we want to be a team that plays hard, plays physically and finishes. And after that, there’s a million little details – awareness of the situation, red zone, down and distance – all those things pop up in a game like this. It’s those one or two plays in this game that if you finish the game is over.

The expectations coming into the season were pretty high, how do you manage psyche after a disappointing result?

We talk about it. If everybody is on board to continue to do the things that we’ve done well and improve the things we haven’t done well, that’s the goal. There’s some tweaks here and there from a schematic standpoint a personnel standpoint a philosophy standpoint, but you continue to work, continue to count on the character of our team.

Reggie Daniels was a key part of the defense last season, but has missed a couple games this year. Is it performance-based or is there a health issue as to why he hasn’t been playing?

He wasn’t available this week.

The last four or five teams that lost a Heisman trophy winner went 8-5, did you expect this to be a bit of a transition year, or did you think with a healthy Vernon Adams you could pick off where you left off last year?

I’m never going to think of anything other than what we control, what we can control and what’s next. At no point do we ever go, “we don’t have a, b or c, so we it’s OK.”

How do you improve the passing game? 

In some cases, and this is all coaching based, some plays there was something there to be had. A couple times we had some route depth issues that are easily correctable. We made a couple plays, had a turnover. All those little details that are highlighted and talked about all the time, they come ablaze in a game like this to an inexperienced guy. Whether it’s footwork, eye progression, all those things you have to trust and make happen in a game just like you have in training.

The defense played well, but gave up touchdowns on Washington State’s final drives of each half. What was different at the end of each half? 

Couple times, execution, a couple times that we could have put them in better situations.Couple times where could have had better communication. Couple times they made a great play and catch. I called timeout to get the ball back. You bunch all that together and you work on each facet of those things individually.

Follow Justin Wise on Twitter @JustinFWise


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Justin Wise

Justin Wise

Justin Wise is the senior sports editor at the Emerald.