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Helfrich, Brown, Brown, Helfrich: Coaches get glib, give some insights

by: COURTESY OF ALAMO BOWL - Oregon coach Mark Helfrich (left) and Texas coach Mack Brown get ready for Monday's Alamo Bowl.SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Mark Helfrich and Mack Brown spoke to the media on Sunday, the day before their teams will play in the Alamo Bowl.

They spoke, but, predictably, refrained from saying anything substantial about any subject — in part because they spoke from the same stage.

But, between the guffaws and mutual admiration, Brown, the retiring Texas head coach, and Helfrich, the UO head coaching newbie, said some interesting things.

Here's a rundown:

  • On Brown's retirement after the game ...

    Brown: "We're not coaching it like it's the last one. We're going to coach it to do everything that we would do if it was 16 years ago to win the game. So we're going to do our best, and that's our job and our responsibility. It would be disrespectful to Mark and his great team and staff; it would be disrespectful to the Alamo Bowl for me to sit up here and talk about me today, because this isn't about me."

    Helfrich: "I call him an icon of our game. I like to get a little anger going before the game; and when you're around him (it's hard to do), it's just more impressive, more classy, you know, just better than the high expectations that I had coming into this deal."

  • • On UO's offensive edge ...

    Helfrich: "We take pride in not only the tempo we play at, but we want to play physically as well. We don't want to be a run-and-shootesque type of edge to our deal. We always point out our ability to block on the perimeter. We need to play with an edge. We don't need to play with chaos."

  • Has UO's mojo returned after the November downturn ...

    Helfrich: "We sure hope so, I guess. I think when we lost our first game (to Stanford) and the world came to an end, you know, we realized when we woke up the next day that, hey, maybe the world didn't come to an end. But there were still some stragglers and there was absolutely some disappointment, kind of punched-in-the-gut type of feeling for a few guys who just needed to grow up and realize that there was a lot of ball left to be played. And, as it played out, we could have played ourselves into a better situation, quote/unquote, but we didn't earn that.

    "And, I think a part of that is how I managed that. Part of that is realizing that the guys in the helmets are the guys that make it happen and earn it. They don't give us points because the 'O' shows up and we step on the field and we put up 27 points on the board. Can we do that, by the way? 28 maybe?

    Brown: "I've been saying 65. ... The expectation for both of these programs is to be playing in the last game at the end of the year, and neither one of us are doing that, but a lot of people would love to be in Oregon's situation as a top-10 team that lost to a great team (Stanford) and then had a tough one on the road (vs. Arizona), and that's it, and have a lot of people back for next year."

  • Why Helfrich kept playing Mariota against Stanford with a partial MCL tear ...

    Helfrich: "Marcus was our best option. There was no point at which the medical team, you know, in any way was, hey, this guy's in danger, a detrimental kind of situation to reaggravate something would come up. ... If we make two plays at the beginning of that game, it's a totally different story."

  • How much healthier Mariota is ...

    Helfrich: "One percent."

    Brown: "He's looked really good in practice."

    Helfrich: "How do you know?"

    Brown: "We've been out there."

    Helfrich: "We are in Texas."

  • On Nick Aliotti's retirement after the game ...

    Helfrich: "There was never a talking into or talking out (of). That's how I put it to him. He's at a point in his life where he's happy and healthy. His wife and his family are happy and healthy — go play golf."

  • On the timing of Aliotti's announcement ...

    Helfrich: "His thing that he kept saying is he wanted to manage the message or be able to control the message, which in the modern Twitter-verse, that's difficult if you don't make the announcement. ... That was definitely a group decision."

  • Timeline on hiring a new Oregon defensive coordinator ...

    Helfrich: "No timeline. In due course. No hurry at all."

    Brown: "Mark asked me about it last night if I was interested, and I told him with all due respect, we should wait till Tuesday."

    Helfrich: "Tuesday morning. Had to wait for the negotiations."

  • On matching Texas' talent ...

    Helfrich: "Somebody had asked how do you prepare for a Malcolm Brown, how do you prepare for the offensive line. Like most people, we don't have those guys laying around. Texas is obviously legendary for its ability to recruit."

  • On the difference for Helfrich between being offensive coordinator and head coach

    Helfrich: "Just trying to make sure everybody's on time and working hard. ... Just getting, I think, more or less just the psychological nature of things, getting everybody's minds rested, happy and healthy and ready."

  • What would Brown have done differently in Texas' 8-4 regular season ...

    Brown: "I would have won all the games. Played a lot of guys, had happy moms and dads and happy media and happy fans, that would have been fun. We've done that (in the past), and it's a lot more fun."

  • How injuries have affected Texas ...

    Brown: "Probably eight of our top-10 players will not dress Monday night. So, it's been a difficult thing. ... The biggest impact is at quarterback; Case (McCoy) is not a guy that's going to run the option and quarterback draws and do the things that David (Ash) did."

  • Oregon embracing a road-game atmosphere ...

    Helfrich: "We've approached it exactly like a road game and a hostile road game."