"How is the team looking, coming into this weekend's game?" Hill asked Helfrich.
From there, Helfrich looked at Hill and thought for a moment, and then gave a clear and concise response.
“We had a better day today than we had last week on this day, “responded Helfrich. “Which is a good thing; it was decent last Thursday. Today we had fewer errors (and) fewer breakdowns in communication.”
Most football coaches might try to buffer their responses about an upcoming game with phraseology designed to take the question away from the point, but Helfrich didn’t do that today.
He gave a straight forward admission about his team – they are improving.
That’s hard to believe right?
Where were all the clichés about they are working really hard and cleaning up a million mistakes?
No, Mark Helfrich told us what we wanted to know, that his team is better at this point this week than they were last week.
Most coaches and other football experts will say the biggest improvement a team makes is between the first and second games and that’s right where the Ducks are as they prepare for the second game of the season against Virginia on Saturday night at Autzen Stadium.
Last week, Oregon crushed FCS and Big Sky Conference Cal Davis, 53-28. That’s too surprising because after all the Aggies can have 65 players on the roster and there is not one of those players that made the Oregon radar during the recruiting process.
That’s not to say there weren’t some good players that on that roster that could play on a FBS roster or even a Pac-12 roster. Heck, maybe even at Oregon!
But many fans were thinking Cal-Davis was going to be a push over and the Ducks would register a big defensive stop.
Some fans left the stadium a bit disappointed last week because Oregon only score 53 points and allowed UCD to score 28.
The questions all this week long from fans have been about whether this team is better than the team who blew a 31-0 halftime lead to lose the Alamo Bowl.
Helfrich’s answer to the very basic question though is something different than what we heard after so many games last season – the evasiveness was gone from his answer on Thursday and in its place was a direct, to the point assessment or where this team is at – they are improving.
How much have they improved? We’ll have to wait and see starting at 7:30 p.m. Pacific on Saturday night when the 0-1 Virginia Cavaliers take the field against the 1-0 Ducks.
One thing for sure is that the Ducks are 24.5 point favorites and no matter what the final score, hopefully we’ll get more of the clear and concise answers from a very bright guy who knows his team is getting better.