Q. You have been here for a few days. How has it been practicing two practices and now?
Mark Helfrich: I think things are probably where they are expected to be. We had great practices in Eugene, had an extended holiday break. Luckily a few of our guys have experience in these types of situations.
Our spirit has been good. A couple dropped balls more than normal and just knocking that stuff off. But I think our guys are of the right frame of mind. They're going in the right vector of getting up to game day, obviously ecstatic to be here. Been treated great. The hospitality here has been incredible. Looking forward to the game.
Q. The dropped balls, do you notice a difference between the last couple years?
MARK HELFRICH: Yeah, that's something that jumped out in my mind when you asked the question. We have a lot of guys with experience, a ton of guys in key positions that have never been in these games before, playing so many young guys like we are on our side of the ball.
Who knows what that is. That might be thinking they had a date with their high school girlfriend, they're still thinking about her, we're trying to think about blocking Kansas State. That's kind of that mental flush they go through after that break.
Again, I don't expect that to be a deal at all.
Q. You mentioned young guys in these new positions. Marcus was here last year, but now he's sitting up on the podium.
MARK HELFRICH: He's been great. He practiced really well. Going back to the dropped balls things, that's something that can get in a quarterback's head, especially a young quarterback. You try to slow down a little bit and catch it for him, but you can't do that.
He's practiced great, prepared great. Hopefully he'll play great.
Q. When you have a quarterback that has so much success early, do you want him to embrace those expectations for the future?
MARK HELFRICH: Yes. Then also in the off?season you break it back down. You go back to whatever 'issue' is of timing, just footwork, mechanics, knowledge.
He's an awesome guy to be around. Very smart, conscientious, tough. I don't think he's going to be one of those guys that sits back and says, Look what I did. It will be, Look what I did at this point, what else is out there.
As a coach, that's what you want. Not only a guy physically gifted, but a guy with a ton of intangibles that make him a special player.
Q. In August when you're throwing him out there to the wolves, then in October when you saw what he could do, was there an approach that changed between the amount of stuff you could give him on a weekly basis, opening up the playbook?
MARK HELFRICH: Luckily that's not ever been something in his case we've had to think about. We try to approach it, we tell kind of our incoming freshmen, Put your foot on the gas, full speed ahead.
We're full speed ramming stuff down their throat. If they can, great. If they can't, it's our job to redshirt them, limit their role or harness them from a playbook standpoint. Luckily we haven't had to do that at all because of Marcus.
There's been some other guys that we haven't been able to expand their role, and that's normal. He's not normal. I think more than anything, we just tried to keep pushing his envelope. He's been a special guy since he stepped on campus. We expected a lot of great things. Fortunate enough to have another guy in Bryan Bennett that gave him a good run for his money.
I think the only difference is this, the outside stuff that you need to do. For him, just managing all that stuff, getting stopped in a restaurant after a loss, Why did you throw that pick? All that stuff that doesn't happen in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Q. Was there an acknowledgment among the offensive coaches that he's exceeding our expectations, doing more than you thought?
MARK HELFRICH: Again, I think as soon as you saw, We expect him to throw whatever the numbers are, 24 touchdowns, that's it, that's the standard. That's why we don't have that top end. It's perfection, for everybody, not just for the quarterback. He's like the cog. But, you know, it's never good enough.
I think you get a lot of guys that think that way. Our team, we have a lot of guys, they play really hard, work really hard, they have that expectation level of perfection. It's incredible to be with them.
Q. You obviously had Kenjon this year. How much did it improve his game that he decided to come back?
MARK HELFRICH: A ton. I think there are guys around the country, that's a tough decision. We're always going to be on the player's side. All this stuff is about the players. Everything we do is about the players, their best interest, their well?being on and off the field. I think that's a great example of a guy that needed that seasoning, prove that he could be 'the man.'
Again, there was never any doubt when you watch him practice, you see him play. He's been like most tailbacks this time of year, battered, beat up, and never missed a day. The only practice he missed was to go to the Doak Walker awards, and that's it. Great guy. Great smile. Humble, smart. Another example of a great kid on the team.
Q. Your conversation about his potential coming back, did you talk about the heights he could reach if he did return?
MARK HELFRICH: I don't remember. Again, you don't necessarily talk in terms of numbers and awards, all that stuff. At that point, you're focused on the individual, what is in their best interest. His best interest was to prove to people that needed to be proved to that he could carry the load, so to speak.
Q. How meaningful is it to have guys like LaMichael and Kenjon, the way they conduct business, act, to influence like DeAnthony, how they're supposed to be as a star player?
MARK HELFRICH: Those guys are great examples. Drew Davis, all you can say is tough and invaluable. When you have your 'marquee' guys, hardest workers, always at practice, which is not normal for most tailbacks, those guys get beat up, and it's hard. But whether it's Marcus or Kenjon or Ryan, we just have a lot of guys like that. Again, it's a very special kind of culture that those guys have maintained and expanded. It's, again, fun to be around. It is, it permeates everybody.
Academics, we had the most academic all-conference guys in the PAC-12. That's awesome. All that stuff matters.
Q. When you look back at your GA days, now you look at what this offense has done, does it almost feel like it happened too fast or is this what you envisioned years ago?
MARK HELFRICH: From my GA days? Had more hair (laughter).
Gosh, that's a question I haven't thought about. At that point, there was a ton of talent. We had a ton of guys, I'm thinking of guys like Smith. The quarterback was Smith, Moss, Harrington, a pretty good lineup. McCullough, I'll forget somebody here, Pat Johnson, Jed Weaver, who played forever in the NFL, Justin Peelle who played for nine or 10 years. A ton of guys.
Again, I don't know what the answer is there. We always at times had some sporadic explosiveness for various reasons. But I don't know. That's a horrible answer to a question.
Q. This kind of offensive explosion, as a young play caller when you were coming up, did you ever envision it getting to this point where you could score this quickly?
MARK HELFRICH: I guess, yes. That's what you're trying to do. Our guys have been just phenomenal in their work rate, in their belief. A lot of people talk about "win the day," whatever their slogan is. The key from getting to that self?help slogan to the results is a lot of hard work. Those guys have paid that investment, put in that time.