Helfrich says Ducks will keep fighting
EUGENE — Mark Helfrich would probably have welcomed more questions about Oregon’s 52-27 loss to Stanford during his regular Sunday night press conference.
Instead, the fourth-year coach was asked about athletic director Rob Mullens’ confidence in him, what a super booster might be thinking and who he leans on while speculation about his job security ratchets up after the Ducks fell to 3-7 to clinch the program’s first losing season in 12 years.
“Well, obviously he’s the only one that can answer that,” Helfrich said of Mullens, who is not granting interview requests this season. “I have total confidence in what we’re doing. Obviously, again, the results have not been what anybody wants. I’m responsible for that, period.”
Helfrich said his players are still competing hard and the program had a “great weekend” on the recruiting front.
“So we will continue to fight, we will continue to do the right things, and it will turn,” Helfrich said.
Oregon, which is tied with Oregon State for last place in the North Division with 1-6 Pac-12 records, plays at No. 11 Utah this week before the season concludes with the Civil War on Nov. 26 in Corvallis.
Helfrich was asked if he has spoken to generous Oregon benefactors and rabid Duck fans Pat Kilkenny and Phil Knight about the season.
“I think if there’s two people that, really four people with Penny (Knight) and Stephanie (Kilkenny) ... four people that I care so much about, what they’ve done for this state, the program, this world in a lot of ways,” Helfrich said. “And how we’re performing, those people, that hits to my core. I have complete respect and admiration for all of them. Pat is an incredible man.”
Helfrich, who coached in the national championship game less than two years ago, has an $11.6 million buyout.
“I don’t sit around and worry about that,” Helfrich said. “We have to worry about plugging some other holes and being in solution-mode. Obviously, I think my wife is still on my side. I’m fairly sure.
“But there’s a lot of perspective out there in the world and, again, we’re going to keep doing the right thing. Period.”
Oregon is starting to run out of options on the defensive line after Helfrich dismissed Austin Maloata from the team on Sunday.
The junior defensive tackle was arrested at the site of a crash at 1:48 a.m. and charged with driving under the influence of intoxicants, reckless driving and possession of a controlled substance.
The Ducks are also without suspended defensive ends Torrodney Prevot and Eddie Heard. Defensive tackles Canton Kaumatule and Ratu Mafileo have medically retired from football. Freshman defensive tackle Drayton Carlberg is out of the lineup with an injury.
Helfrich was asked if he’s ever experienced this much attrition during a season before.
“There’s been times in past history where there’s been a lot more issues with that, more off-field things,” Helfrich said. “The injury part of it, I don’t think so. Everybody kind of overdramatizes things, but yeah, we’ve had a bunch of them. But a lot of other people have as well.”
Two key starters, wide receiver Devon Allen (torn ACL) and left tackle Tyrell Crosby (broken foot), suffered season-ending injuries Sept. 17 at Nebraska. Running back Taj Griffin sustained a season-ending knee injury during a non-contact play in practice last week.
Wide receiver Dwayne Stanford (knee) hasn’t played since Oct. 1, and safety Reggie Daniels (foot) was also unable to suit up for senior day. Tight end Pharaoh Brown, cornerback Tyree Robinson and linebacker Johnny Ragin all left the Stanford game with injuries.
The Ducks’ sharp decline means another game that isn’t in prime-time.
The Oregon-Utah kickoff will be at 11 a.m. on Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium. The television broadcast is on the Pac-12 Networks.