Ducks try to rally past season-ending injuries and Nebraska loss
After losing to Nebraska last Saturday, the Ducks are trying to look past the tough defeat and focus on the upcoming game against Colorado.
But looking ahead has been harder than expected, after news Monday that both Tyrell Crosby and Devon Allen are out with season-ending injuries.
“That’s like getting struck by lightning twice,” Helfrich said Tuesday about Allen’s second ACL tear. “Very unfortunate for him, personally. He’s a guy that is revered around here and he’ll bounce back.”
Despite not being on the field this year, Helfrich said both Allen and Crosby will be “integral parts of rallying everybody up.”
“The credibility he has on the team and the type of guy he is — he’s got to be an emotional leader for us,” Helfrich said of Allen. “With a bunch of young guys, a bunch of immature guys at various spots that he kind of has influence with — we need that and we need his impact, still.”
Royce Freeman was also sidelined early in the Nebraska game, but was walking out of practice on Tuesday without crutches, braces or support of any kind. When asked of his availability Saturday, Helfrich said, “we’ll see.”
If Freeman remains out, running backs Kani Benoit, Tony Brooks-James and Taj Griffin will assume a larger role.
“Royce being dinged-up — we’re going to have to step up a little bit,” Griffin said.
Helfrich and the Oregon special teams received criticism for their four failed two-point conversions during the Nebraska game. Despite going one for five, Helfrich said completely dismissing two-point conversions would be like throwing an incompletion and never throwing the ball again.
“That’s not how we’re going to operate,” he said.
“Especially in the Nebraska game, we wanted to put pressure on their quarterback,” Helfrich said. “We wanted him to have to have the psychological pressure of a lead, and again, the first two looks we had were perfect. The second one we obviously need to coach better.”
It can be hard for a team to bounce back after a close loss, but Helfrich is happy with how his team has performed in practice so far this week.
“Our guys worked very, very hard yesterday and today. I liked their urgency, I liked their volume — a lot of times after a loss it’s very quiet in terms of when you get back out there, but they have stuck together and competed really well.”
Colorado is a team that usually doesn’t trouble Oregon. Last year the Ducks beat the Buffaloes 41-24 and in 2014, they won 44-10. This year, however, the Buffaloes look like they are starting to turn a corner. They even gave No. 4-ranked Michigan a scare, jumping ahead 21-7 after the first quarter this past weekend.
“Defensively, [Colorado has] been outstanding,” Helfrich said. “They’re really good defensively and have been for the last several years. This year I think they’re significantly different and better both offensively and in special teams … They’re playing with a bunch of confidence.”
Follow Kylee O’Connor on Twitter @kyleethemightee
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