After starting off 2-0 (with games against FCS UC Davis and Virginia), Oregon has uncharacteristically dropped four straight to Nebraska, Colorado, Washington State, and Washington - where they've given up 70 and 51 in back-to-back weeks. This week they've got a bye before taking on Cal next week. It's hearing coaches talk about how they're losing games that caught my attention.
Judging from the accounts of interviews that Oregon assistant coaches have given to the midway point of the season, they're kind of going through the stuff of nightmares out in Eugene.
Here's what I mean by that: Coaches rave about how practices are going; there's great energy, guys are working hard, executing the game plan and making plays, and overall things are productive, efficient, and effective Monday through Friday. Most importantly, coaches note that while guys are bothered by the losses, they otherwise have a great attitude. When Saturday comes around they all go into the game with a great feeling in the pits of their stomach because they had a great week of practice...but when their feet hit the turf on Saturday the product on the field doesn't resemble the team that's performed so well earlier in the week during their preparation.
Here's defensive backs coach John Neal talking about the oddity earlier this week.
As a coaching staff, what do you do to fix that? Practice is going great, but the games are a different story. What's the approach? What's the answer?
At his presser today, Mark Helfrich provided some insight on their approach, and explained how they're going about solving some of their issues. When mistakes are made, Helf and his staff as a number of questions, he notes.
"Is it the person doing it, or is it what we're asking them to do, is it [coaches] being in there every snap of practice and telling them what to do - because you know, we can't do that. We're trying to find that special sauce there."
Later on in the clip, Helf talked about a play from early in the year where their execution was great offensively, but the ball carrier made three guys miss.
"We didn't execute that play. We didn't execute that play well. It was one guy making three guys miss. So that kind of situation you're coaching, and fixing just as much as a blown coverage or a misfitted gap. They're both incorrect and we have to realize that you can improve in all those types of situations."
"It's realizing that it's you owning yourself first, and your teammates second, and continually striving to improve. That's it. It's not any more, or less difficult than that. It's you managing yourself, and then your teammate second. Part of that is us as coaches, but there's a lot of factors that go into it, but it's really simple."