10/7/12 - Mariota on Colt leaving program
EUGENE – The post-Colt Lyerla era began Monday for the Oregon Ducks with a common refrain: “We’ve moved on,” Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said.
Injuries, illnesses, circumstances nor defections rattle the No. 2 Ducks who will face their toughest opponent so far this season when they travel to Seattle Saturday to face No. 16 Washington.
So the fact that the team’s starting tight end and a future NFL Draft pick decided he would rather quit the team and drop out of school rather than pursue a national title with his teammates didn’t appear to bother the Ducks as they began preparation for the Huskies.
“It doesn’t affect what we do,” UO tight ends coach Tom Osborne said.
Oregon announced Sunday that Lyerla decided to leave the team after being suspended for Saturday’s 57-16 win at Colorado.
Helfrich said Lyerla, suspended for the first week of the 2012 fall camp, was left home Saturday for “violation of team rules.”
Sources told CSNNW.com that said violations included being late for and/or absent from team activities and that Lyerla was warned that repeated violations could result in his dismissal. That led to a conversation with Helfrich and Lyerla electing to leave the team and pursue a professional career.
“I really don’t want to get into the particulars,” Helfrich said Monday. “Again, it was a very productive conversation. Like he said and like we said, this is not an ill-will situation in any way shape or form.”
Lyerla told Goducks.com that he left on his terms and on good terms.
Helfrich said the team appeared to handle the news well given that it had a “great practice,” on Monday.
Players, such as quarterback Marcus Mariota and safety Brian Jackson, said the team would miss Lyerla but added that the team would not allow his departure to derail their goals.
“We kind of just had to move on from it,” Jackson said. “I guess if you were to dwell on it, it could become kind of a distraction.”
Nor should dwell or worry. Freshman tight end Johnny Mundt has performed well in Lyerla’s absence – he missed the Tennessee game because if illness – and talented sophomore Pharaoh Brown returned from injury looked solid against Colorado.
Given Lyerla’s history, Osborne said he wasn’t shocked by Lyerla’s departure: “Never surprised with Colt. Who knows?”
Helfrich said he supported Lyerla’s decision.
“Every situation is so individualized,” Helfrich said. “If he felt this was best for him, that’s okay. We talked about it and we moved on…There’s no smoking gun, so to speak.”
After answering a few questions about Lyerla, Helfrich tried to shift the conversation to the Huskies.
“We’ve turned the page,” he said. “I would love to talk about Washington and our preparations. But, it’s not about any single one of us. Myself included.”