The Oregon Ducks opened training camp this week under new coach Mark Helfich, and sophomore quarterback Marcus Mariota said not much has changed now that Chip Kelly is gone.
“There hasn’t been a whole lot of difference from a football standpoint,” Mariota observed. “Coach Helfrich has always said, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ ”
The 40-year-old Helfrich is taking over after four seasons as Oregon’s offensive coordinator under Kelly, who left in January to become coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Kelly’s Ducks went 46-7 overall and played in BCS bowl games in each of his four years, including an appearance in the national championship game against Auburn in 2011. Oregon finished 12-1 last season, beat Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl and wound up No. 2 in the final AP Top 25.
“If I can be known as the guy who kept winning after Chip Kelly, I’m good with that,” Helfrich said.
Kelly’s trademark was a breakneck, spread-option offense, which the Ducks will keep utilizing
“I think it’s going to be as explosive as it’s always been. We’re not going to miss a beat at all,” center Hroniss Grasu said.
The Ducks return eight starters on offense and seven on defense. Joining Mariota — who was named All-Pac-12 Conference as a freshman — on the offense is junior De’Anthony Thomas, an explosive playmaker at receiver and running back who scored every 9.2 times he touched the ball.
Thomas hinted there may be a few tweaks of the offense, or a “little more flavor,” as he put it.
Said Helfich: “We’re going to continue to do what we’ve done from a program standpoint. How we recruit is a little bit different, but we’re going to continue to be innovative, attack, and get better in every facet of our program, every year.”
Wake Forest running back Josh Harris has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season. The school declared him ineligible last week and sought a waiver to restore his eligibility. … Four former Vanderbilt players — Cory Batey, 19; Brandon Banks, 19; Jaborian McKenzie, 19; and Brandon Vandenburg, 20 — have been indicted on five counts of aggravated rape each of an unconscious 21-year-old student at a campus dormitory in June. … UAB has dismissed wide receiver Jackie Williams for undisclosed reasons. He is ranked No. 4 in school history with 140 career receptions. … Frank Beckmann, the radio voice of Michigan football since 1981, will retire after the season.