Planning for success: Oregon

November, 7, 2013
11/07/13
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By his own account, Oregon coach Mark Helfrich had a pretty good offseason.

After a decade and a half coaching college football, Helfrich landed his first head coaching gig, which just happened to double up as one of the nation's best programs and the school he grew up watching. That's before factoring in that the job made him the state's highest-paid employee at $1.8 million a year.

[+] EnlargeMark Helfrich
Steve Conner/Icon SMIMark Helfrich feels that Stanford wanted last year's game more than Oregon did, something he vows to correct on Thursday.
It wasn't all sunshine and smiles for Helfrich, though -- at least not when the coaching staff reviewed last year's Stanford film.

"We when got to quality controlling (the Stanford) game, there was level of frustration of our general approach," Helfrich said. "Did we talk about it? Yeah, we did."

Helfrich classified the level of frustration as "extreme," and seemed particularly miffed at the effort the team gave.

"They played harder than we did, which for us was very revolutionary," he said. "That's something that we hang our hat on, and for whatever reason we didn't put our best effort forth, and that's 100 percent on us and that's not to take anything away from Stanford."

Schematically, he said there were no wholesale changes by either team, only that Stanford out-executed the Ducks on its way to a 17-14 overtime win that likely cost Oregon a chance to play for the national title.

If Oregon was to win out, the path to the title game is seemingly there. That, plus revenge, means there shouldn't be any lack of motivation.

And Stanford coach David Shaw wasn't about to give the Ducks any.

When asked what he thought of the 10 points Oregon was favored by, Shaw looked surprised.

"It's only 10? I thought it was going to be higher," he said. "The fact that it's only 10 is a huge credit to our kids because it should be higher."

Shaw was blunt in his assessment, saying that Oregon has played like one of the best teams in the country, while the Cardinal has not.

The stats certainly back up his claim, as Oregon is among the national leaders in several categories.

It ranks No.1 in offensive plays over 20 yards (71) and its defense has allowed the fewest (19). The Ducks are No. 2 nationally in yards per play (8.09), yards per game (632.1) and rushing offense (331.5 per game).

Oregon has yet to be held to less than 42 points, but Stanford hasn't given up more than 28 in 16 games. Something has to give.

Over the past several years, Stanford has been the outlier in several Oregon patterns.

• Last loss: 17-14, vs. Stanford, 2012. Since then, Oregon has won 10 straight games, all by at least 17 points.

• Last Marcus Mariota interception: vs. Stanford, last year. Since then, he's gone a Pac-12 record 293 passes without a pick and thrown for 23 touchdowns.

• Last non-neutral site away game loss: 51-42, at Stanford, 2009. Since then, Oregon has won 18 such games in a row.

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