Q&A with Mark Helfrich

Offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich spoke to a roundtable of media recently about his ideas on offensive football. Inside, an excerpt from the interview, where Helfrich talks about what he's looking for in a quarterback at CU.

Helfrich came to CU from Arizona State, where he was passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach. He was on the staff at Boise State from 1998-2000.

BSN: When will you start being able to evaluate the returning quarterbacks? There's not a returning starter. Do you have a timetable for that?
Yeah, and I think that's kind of a positive and a negative. I don't know how much I'm going to sit there and watch either practice or game film.

From a physical standpoint, you can see mechanically what they've done. Not that it's better or worse, but unless you've been in there, you don't know what they've been told, you don't know what routes were supposed to be run. You don't' know any of that stuff. And so to really paint that picture in your mind of ‘This guy can do this, and this guy can do this…' It's human nature for whoever's doing that to form an opinion vs. ‘Let's learn new stuff, let's attack spring ball and let's really evaluate that.'

Personally, I'm going to focus a lot more on that and try to evaluate different position players to fit into our system and say, ‘This receiver can do this, or this tight end can do this.'

Q: How much schematically have you seen here, or that you have knowledge of what they've done here will fit into what you did at ASU and what Hawk did at Boise.
(What we do at CU now) will be very similar to what they've done at Boise State. We have almost identical terminology. I've been trying to adapt the original playbook that we put in in Boise in 1998, and it's basically the same thing they have there now.

I don't have any idea how much of that will carry over to what they've done at Colorado. It's like learning French and then learning Spanish. It's going to be different. There's juts a translational period you have to go through.

Q: It's often said that some of the offenses you can use in the Pac 10 are not workable in the Big 12 because of weather and because it's maybe a more run-oriented kind of conference. How will you adapt to that and is that an accurate statement.
I don't know. (laugh). I think we need to try to be equipped to do both. If you have to win a game by throwing it 50 times, you have to be equipped to do that. If you have to grind it out with ball control and win it that way, hopefully, you're equipped to do that.

There's no question it's different being in Manhattan, Kan., than playing in LA. But (ASU) also played in Tacoma, Wash., in November.

I think the strength, or something that we've always been able to do is adjust to the personnel that's there. In my opinion, we're much more oriented to that than to worry about weather, which is so unpredictable. But it is predictable to know you've got three great tight ends, or two great wide outs, or whatever. We're just going to try to be flexible to our personnel and not say, ‘We're a two-back, two wide out team, period.'

We're going to try and adapt to who we are, and we'll find out who that is in spring, hopefully.

Q: You said you'll look at the quarterbacks in the spring. Obviously, that's going to be important, but what Brian White did in the bowl game probably didn't escape you.
I haven't seen that (as of mid-January) because we were playing the same day as Colorado was. This is what I saw of the Colorado bowl game – we were getting to (the stadium) and we were walking down the tunnel. The TV was down on the ground and I looked down and it was tied. That's all I saw.

But that buzz is around here. But we'll see. It's a totally open thing for everybody.

Q: What kind of quarterback would you ideally like to see?
Roger Staubach (laughter).

Q: A guy who can do some things with his feet and is more mobile, or your traditional drop-back and throw-it guy?
Again, we're going to play with who gives us the best chance to move the ball and score points. Would you prefer to have a guy that could do both? Sure. That puts a lot more pressure on the defense. It gives you a lot more options. But if you've got a guy that can flat wing it and he's not mobile or fast, you can work with that. You can have some other things you can do.

There's ideal. You can sit down and write that on your recruiting board. We want a 6-foot-4, 290-pound offensive lineman who runs a 4.8. There's not too many of those guys out there. We'll see and we'll go with what we've got.

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