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Redshirt decisions loom for Ducks

EUGENE — As Oregon concludes its second week of preseason camp, coach Mark Helfrich is starting to form opinions about potential redshirt candidates.

He just hopes his freshmen aren’t spending too much time trying to decipher the writing on the wall.

“It’s natural at about this time, two or three guys can kind of see, ‘Oh, shoot, I’m going to redshirt,’ and they think that’s a bad thing,” Helfrich said. “That’s kind of a mentality that we’ll coach them through. For the most part, I like where our heads are at in that regard.”

Helfrich plans to formalize some decisions, including the announcement of a starting quarterback, after the Ducks scrimmage Thursday. Until then, he’s hoping Oregon’s young players will continue competing as if they have a chance to win a job.

“This next week is crucial, because so many guys run into a wall of installation and get overwhelmed with all this stuff,” Helfrich said. “The next three days, they get an epiphany and it clicks, and they still might be able to play.

“With those guys, you have to keep their confidence high and let them put their best foot forward.”

Two prime redshirt candidates are freshmen quarterbacks Terry Wilson and Justin Herbert. Helfrich doesn’t want those players pressing to make a case for themselves, but he doesn’t mind if they realize the clock is ticking.

“You want them playing with confidence, playing free of that,” he said. “But at the same time, there’s a ton of anxiety on the quarterback position, and we try to create that. We try to get in their head a little bit, too.”

If any players express reservations about redshirting, Helfrich has a can’t-miss comeback.

“Marcus Mariota was a decent player, and he redshirted,” Helfrich said. “It’s not a four-letter word. If they do end up redshirting, they’re a vital part of our team and how we prepare.”

PRUKOP LEADS WAY: Helfrich exited Friday afternoon’s practice in an animated conversation with quarterback Dakota Prukop, who continues to have the inside track to be the Ducks’ starter.

Helfrich said he wants Oregon’s quarterbacks to realize it’s OK to have questions if a concept doesn’t click. In Prukop’s case, the self-described epiphany he experienced late last week didn’t mean he was immune to some rudimentary mistakes.

“The thing about playing quarterback is you’ll make these big strides and then fall back to a Day One mistake,” Helfrich said. “Everyone is looking at him like, ‘Wait a second, where did that come from?’ But that’s going to happen. That’s to be expected.

“All votes in, he’s been the most consistent.”

THAT'S THE TICKET: Helfrich expounded on the letter he released to fans before the start of practice earlier this month, urging them to buy tickets at Autzen Stadium.

The Ducks claim 110 straight sellouts at home, but they’ve employed some additional marketing this year to make sure the streak stays intact.

“Absolutely, there’s a push,” Helfrich said. “You look across the country, that’s been (a result of) the invention of HDTV and 75 college football channels and games on every (night). ...

“Our fans have been phenomenal over the years. We just want to make sure they know there are tickets available.”

Dakota Prukop has been the most consistent of Oregon's quarterbacks through two weeks of fall practice. ANDY NELSON/EUGENE REGISTER-GUARD