Helfrich promises ‘real’ ball for spring game

By Ryan Thornburn / The (Eugene) Register-Guard

Published Apr 27, 2014 at 12:01AM

Spring games

When: 11 a.m. Saturday

TV: Pac-12

When: 1 p.m. Saturday

TV: Pac-12

Mark Helfrich apologized to the defense after his first spring game as Oregon’s head coach for implementing an “inept scoring system.”

Injuries forced the Ducks to scrap the traditional split-squad format, and the offense prevailed 65-10.

This time, Helfrich promises some “real” football during next Saturday’s spring game at Autzen Stadium.

“I think the competition is more fun when you play a real game,” offensive coordinator Scott Frost said. “I also think it’s educational for guys to be in some of those situations. We have some guys that haven’t played a whole lot on the field in Autzen.”

The Ducks began looking ahead to the public showcase after completing the 12th of 15 spring practices on Friday.

Players divided the coaching staff up for the annual showcase and then the two teams were drafted by four captains — Marcus Mariota and Hroniss Grasu selected one team with Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and Tony Washington choosing the other.

Mariota’s appearance in the spring game figures to be brief.

One of the undetermined position battles for the coaches going into the fall is backup quarterback, with Jeff Lockie and Jake Rodrigues still competing for the No. 2 spot.

“You never know in these games,” Frost said when asked if Mariota was the obvious No. 1 pick for the player draft. “I’m not sure how much Marcus is going to play, so that might be a little bit of fool’s gold to take him and only get a series out of him.”

Helfrich joked that the draft for the spring game would be televised “on the Pac-12 Networks and ESPN8,” but the rosters are not going to be made available until Monday.

As long as there aren’t a rash of key injuries during the two remaining practices next week, there should be a healthy competition on the scoreboard this year.

“It will be a recognizable football game,” Helfrich said.

Griffin has a ‘desire to win’

Per NCAA rules, Oregon coaches are not allowed to comment on Taj Griffin, the highly touted running back who verbally committed to the program this week, until signing day next February.

Griffin’s coach at McEachern High in Powder Springs, Ga., talked about how the five-star prospect fits into the Ducks’ offense.

“He’s one of the most explosive players in America, and (Oregon) want to get him in space,” McEachern coach Kyle Hockman told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “He’s zero to 60 mph in a flash. He’s strong, and one of those guys who has a desire to win. He believes he’s going to win, no matter what the circumstances are. The bigger the moment and the bigger the game, he’s able to make things happen.”

Griffin rushed for 1,194 yards and 14 touchdowns last season as a junior, despite playing through an ankle injury and sitting out the second half of several lopsided victories. The 5-10, 175-pounder is considered the No. 1 all-purpose running back in the 2015 class.