On the path to success
Mark Helfrich has officially made it through his first spring as head coach of the Oregon Ducks. The team looks largely the same without Chip Kelly running the show, which is a good sign for fans in Eugene.
Over the past four seasons, the Ducks have become a national powerhouse. They’re title contenders year after year, which has been a major result of the system that Kelly ran.
Now, with Kelly on to the NFL, the team has become Helfrich’s to mold.
Helfrich was offered the head coaching position as a promotion from the offensive coordinator spot. His name wasn’t as big as some of the other candidates being floated around, but he knows Kelly’s system, which is a huge plus in the eyes of fans.
Aside from the system, Helfrich has top-tier talent on the field. Having Marcus Mariota and De’Athony Thomas in his backfield is a dream come true, and having capable reserves in Byron Marshall, Jake Rodrigues and Jeff Lockie is icing on the cake.
Don’t forget about Thomas Tyner, either, the freshman phenom who ran for 644 yards and 10 touchdowns in a single game last season.
If you’re looking for another reason Helfrich has been set up to succeed, look no further than the schedule. The Ducks have a favorable schedule in 2013, and while that’s a problem when it comes to the BCS, the organization has the luxury of already being a top-5 program.
Simply put, a weak schedule won’t matter if the team wins out.
Helfrich is entering his first season ready to succeed. The problem is that this program has redefined success since the start of the Kelly era. A national championship is the goal year after year, and nobody is going to use a new head coach as an excuse if that goal is not met.
The cliché states that the Pac-12 doesn’t compete for a BCS Championship—it competes for a berth in the Rose Bowl. However, that’s simply not true for Oregon. A Rose Bowl appearance would be reluctantly met with open arms, but it would be a compilation prize compared to finishing on top of the college football world.
In fact, the Ducks are at a point where any more than one loss in the regular season is flat-out disappointing. A two-loss season would go down as a lost year, which sets the bar incredibly high for Helfrich and his staff.
But if you were to ask Helfrich, he’d probably tell you that high expectations aren’t a bad thing at all. This program is ready to hit the ground running, and there’s no better way to make a name for yourself than living up to the expectations that have previously been set.
Will Helfrich find the same kind of success Kelly did in his inaugural season? Only time will tell.
What we do know is that the new guy in town has a lot of things going for him. The talent on the field combined with the team’s schedule have set him up for success, and now it’s up to him to help the team reach its ultimate goal.
An NCAA title.