Helfrich: Final thoughts on Cal
EUGENE – Oregon coach Mark Helfrich briefly went to the sports superstition card this week upon being asked about his team’s mind-blowing number of turnovers through three games: Zero.
“Can’t talk about that…it’s like a no hitter,” he said.
Jinx or no jinx, Oregon is bound to commit a turnover at some point this season.
Another virtual certainty could be that a couple of Oregon offensive records will fall Saturday when the No. 2 Ducks host California (1-2), 7:30 p.m. at Autzen Stadium.
Given the Golden Bears’ poor defense and pass-happy offense, Oregon has a legitimate shot at setting team records for total offense (772 yards vs. Nicholls, 2013), most points in the modern era (72 vs. New Mexico, 2010) and most points against a conference opponent (70 vs. Colorado, 2012).
If we choose not to give much credit for the record number of yards gained on Nicholls, a pretty poor FCS program, the more impressive number to beat for total yards would be the 730 Oregon racked up last season at USC.
It’s also quite possible that Oregon could break its record for net yards rushing (528 vs. Portland State, 2010) or passing (489 vs. Brigham Young, 1989). It's highly unlikely the Ducks will ever break both records in the same game.
This is not to suggest that California hasn’t been tough against Oregon from time to time in the past few years.
“Every time I’ve played them it’s been a very physical game,” UO center Hroniss Grasu said.
That was the case last year when the Ducks won 59-17 after getting off to a bit of a sluggish start by their standards.
But consider that the Ducks gained 575 yards of offense against a Cal team that rushed for 236 on 40 carries, thus eating a good chunk of time off the clock.
This year’s Cal team, under first-year coach Sonny Dykes, leans more on the pass within an upitempo offense. Cal is averaging 94.7 plays per game. Of those, 56.3 have been pass plays while the running game has averaged 3.1 yards per carry.
So, let’s examine the formula here: Cal running an uptempo offense, plus throwing the ball a ton, plus having a bad defense that’s allowing 556.3 yards per game (121st in the country), plus Oregon’s high-powered offense averaging 61.3 points and 672 yards per game = potential statistical Armageddon.
Hence why the over/under betting line for total points scored is 84 1/2.
Then toss in Oregon’s growing familiarity with the 4-3 defense and the Ducks ‘production could be scary.
“They run basically a four-down structure, which we’ve seen the last couple of games,” Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota said. “Nothing too new to us.”
About the only thing that seemingly could derail Oregon from racking up ridiculous numbers Saturday would be numerous turnovers. Of which, Oregon has zero.
Cal might be in need of jinx in Autzen.