Q&A with Mark Helfrich

Mark Helfrich will be moving to Boulder some time shortly after Arizona State's date with Rutgers in the Insight Bowl on Dec. 27. At Colorado, Helfrich will become offensive coordinator under head coach Dan Hawkins. Helfrich spoke with BSN about his philosophy on the running game he'll oversee, how familiar he is with CU and his relationship with Hawkins.

Mark Helfrich accepted the offensive coordinator job at CU over the past weekend. He has coached ASU's quarterbacks and has overseen its passing game since 2001. Before that, he worked under current ASU head coach Dirk Koetter at Boise State, coaching the quarterbacks. Dan Hawkins was the assistant head coach and special teams coach on that 2000 Boise State squad.

Under Helfrich's watch this fall, Arizona State gained 4,014 yards through the air, including a healthy 8.8 yards per pass average. Arizona State led the Pac-10 and ranked fifth in the nation in passing offense in 2004, averaging a school-record 317.3 yards per game. Coached by Helfrich for all three years as ASU's starter, quarterback Andrew Walter recorded a record-breaking year in 2004 and was selected in the third round of the NFL draft by the Oakland Raiders.

In 2004, Walter set school records for both career (85) and single-season touchdowns (30) in addition to shattering the previous Pac-10 record for career touchdown passes, set by John Elway at Stanford.

Helfrich said right off the bat recruiting will be the No. 1 priority once he begins at Colorado. He didn't yet know his exact start date when BSN spoke with him Monday, but Hawkins' start date is Jan. 1. It's presumed his assistants will start at the same time.

BSN: What attracted you about the job?
Mark Helfrich:
Two things, mainly. Just the opportunity to be a coordinator and to branch out and do something that's, at least on the surface, different. And then, secondly, to reunite with Hawk and be a part of the staff he's putting together is really exciting.

BSN: You're known for tutoring quarterbacks and producing prolific passing games at Arizona State. Tell me about your philosophy about the run game that you'll be directing, too.
MH:
We're definitely going to combine forces with what they've done at Boise State, what we've done here, and then a couple elements from different people that will eventually be a part of the staff. We're going to always try to do what is best by personnel.

We've had 1,000-yard rushers (at Arizona State). We've been very blessed with the talent we've had at quarterback. That's kind of been what we've been best at.

(At CU) we're going to have the capability so if we have to win the game running, we can do that; if we have to win the game throwing it, hopefully, we'll be able to do that too. Obviously (winning) is the end game.

We'll just have to get in there and find out what direction we'll head based on who we have.

BSN: Speaking of personnel, how familiar are you with the players you'll be coaching at CU?
MH:
Not familiar at all. That's probably a benefit. It's just a clean slate for everybody, and we can go from there.

BSN: Tell me about your relationship with Coach Hawkins, and what is it about him that makes you want to work with him.
MH:
Hawk is a great friend of mine. He was in my wedding. He's a dynamic guy. He's very intelligent fast. He can figure out situations, figure out people very quickly. And he's also a very magnetic guy that can get a lot of people going in the same direction in a hurry. That's obviously a good quality for a head football coach.

I've been very, very fortunate in the situations I've been in. I've been lucky, and I'm looking forward to this situation.

BSN: How familiar are you with the Colorado program, the tradition in general.
MH:
I'm definitely aware of the tradition. A national championship, a Heisman Trophy and the players they've had, the talent they've had.

Unfortunately, I'm familiar with the recent stuff. Hopefully, we can mend those fences as much as possible. Again, I think that's something that Hawk will be successful at — just getting everybody past the past, and say let's go.


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