Ducks prepping for Vols, not ‘chasing ghosts’
By GRANT RAMEY (firstname.lastname@example.org)
EUGENE, Ore. — Mark Helfrich isn’t about to “chase ghosts” as he prepares for Butch Jones’ Tennessee team.
“With these guys, not really,” Helfrich said after his second-ranked Ducks had a walk-through inside Autzen Stadium Thursday morning. “You try to not sway too much from your normal rhythm as a coach.”
Helfrich and his team have watched the film of the first two games of the Jones Era at Tennessee, blowout wins over Austin Peay and Western Kentucky. They’ve broke down schemes from Cincinnati, too. But that’s where the first-year Oregon head coach has to fight the urge to over-prepare.
“Part of that, certainly, is maybe today and certainly last night you start to get the ‘what if’ game,” Helfrich said. “You watch the Cincinnati film and they’re lined up in a formation that you’re never going to line up in, and a defense that you haven’t seen this year. And you’re like, ‘oh my gosh, what if they do this, that and the other thing?’ Then you’re just chasing ghosts.
“We try as much as possible to never be in that mode. I think there’s a little natural tendency to do that. And maybe it is a team you’re not as familiar with, a staff you’re not but again that’s just where you go back to your strengths and rely on your guys to make plays and decisions on the field.”
Don’t be fooled, though. Oregon knows what Butch was all about at Cincinnati.
“We definitely watched a fair amount of film from Cincinnati, just in order to understand the schemes, how they’re really trying to play this year,” wide receiver Daryle Hawkins told The Daily Times. “We also watched their first two games this year, against Austin Peay and Western Kentucky. They look solid on film.”
What have the Ducks seen from the Vols on film? Speed. And Oregon, arguably the fastest team in college football, knows more about that than anyone.
“We’re a fast team, but it’s always a challenge when a team comes in that can match some of that speed you have,” wide receiver Keanon Lowe said. “So on defense … they can really run, their [defensive backs] fly around, their safeties fly around, their linebackers are physical.”
For all the talk of Oregon’s offense, the Ducks defensive unit is nonetheless impressive.
Through two games they’ve given up just 13 points, including only one touchdown allowed, 211 yards rushing and 430 yards through the air.
They’ve intercepted opposing quarterbacks three times, recovered three fumbles and forced three more.
The focus stops and starts with shutting out the opponent. Whether it’s Nicholls State, which managed just 3 points in a 66-3 loss in Oregon’s season opener, or Virginia, which scored 10 in last week’s 59-10 loss to the Ducks.
“We think about it,” linebacker Boseko Lokombo said. “We just try to eliminate big plays and have fun out there. When we do our job and everyone is on point, we can’t be stopped.”
Playing as the No. 2 team in the country, Oregon has little to prove in a nationally televised game, even if it is an SEC vs. Pac-12 matchup.
“It’s a non-conference game, our third game of the year,” Lowe said. “We’re 2-0 and we want to be 3-0. But we’re prepared, we’ve been preparing all week. And that’s all you can try to do this weekend, we’re going to try to win the game.”
The Ducks are picked not just to win but to win big.
As of Thursday the line had moved 28 points in favor of Oregon. But those numbers don’t stack up to this Oregon team’s expectation of itself.
“We know just the type of standard we really set for ourselves,” Hawkins said. “I think everybody is kind of recognizing that standard.”
COUCH OUT: Butch Jones announced on radio Thursday that Mo Couch would be ineligible for the game.
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