Following No. 5 Washington’s 70-21 drubbing of Oregon two weeks ago, Cameron Hunt made a comment that made its way into the national conversation. He told The Register-Guard‘s Austin Meek that roughly 30 to 40 percent of players on the team don’t care if the Ducks win or lose.
ESPN reporter Tom Rinaldi asked about Hunt’s remark in his one-on-one interview with head coach Mark Helfrich over the weekend. Lee Corso also alluded to it on ESPN College GameDay.
On Wednesday, Hunt talked about his comment with several reporters for the first time, saying that it was “misinterpreted.”
What was it like in the bounce back from Washington? What did you see from your guys?
I think [it was] seeing guys really compete and evaluate what we need to do to win. Guys need to give a little bit more effort all around — offensively, defensively, special teams — to make it successful.
I know coach Helfrich would talk to you about your “30 to 40 percent” comment. Did they talk to you about what you said? How was that process?
What he said was right. I was in a little bit of an emotional state of mind after a big loss like that. Coming back, I think the way I said it was kind of misinterpreted. What I meant to say was that some of the guys’ effort in that game wasn’t acceptable or up to the standard that we need to have all the time. And I think coach Helfrich has done a great job of getting guys motivated and getting us ready to play. I trust him 100 percent. He’s our leader and I’ll go to battle with him any day.
You guys have always been on the other side of lopsided victories. Is it very different in that circumstance for you guys? It’s not really a place you’ve been before in your time at Oregon.
You just have to keep fighting until the end. You never want to give up. You want to be that ultimate competitor, and that’s what we’re preaching: Go out there and compete. Compete as hard as you can. At the end, look up and I think we’ll like what the outcome will be.
Do you feel like you guys are in a place where you can turn it around with six games left? Does a bowl game feel realistic for you guys?
Absolutely. We have a lot of great talent around us. It’s just about putting all the pieces together — old guys, young guys. Just making sure that everyone has that optimal effort that can lead us to a victory.
When you were talking about talking to coaches about the comment — emotional or not — do you feel like there’s a responsibility as a leader to hold guys accountable? Do you feel like people are getting the message, “We’ve got to get this thing going now”?
I think after that game was kind of an eyeopener for some guys on the team, knowing that we need to do a little bit more if we want to get a win. That’s all around the board. Whatever we can do as a team and as players — if that means we need to call players out or we need to pat some guys on the back — everybody’s different. So we just need to make sure that we can get to each guy effectively.
What are you seeing different from guys as the team head to Cal?
I think guys are just kind of coming back with a fresh mental state of mind. Just brushing that off. Maybe it was good to get away from football for a couple days. To be able to come back and be excited about this next game.
Follow Jonathan Hawthorne on Twitter @Jon_Hawthorne