After cruising to a 5-0 record with a win against the Colorado Buffaloes on Saturday, the Ducks are already looking ahead to their next match-up against Pac-12 North rival Washington.
Saturday night at Stanford Stadium, the Huskies were able to hold their own against the No. 5 Cardinal due to the valiant efforts of quarterback Keith Price.
“They are playing really well, in all three phases,” head coach Mark Helfrich said in Sunday’s conference call. “They had some break downs special-teams wise that I think will get cleaned up, played really hard, played really well, and it will be two really good teams on display.”
Yesterday it was announced that ESPN College Game Day would be heading to Seattle, adding more buildup to an already huge showdown between two ranked teams.
However, even with the added hype heading into Saturday’s game, Helfrich said that he doesn’t think the veterans on the team will be fazed.
“We have had a bunch of guys that have been in a bunch of big games,” Helfrich said. “Obviously for our newcomers who haven’t played a ton there will be some element of newness. You package that with a new stadium, the history of the rivalry and it will be a certainly different flavor.”
In addition, Helfrich said the wide receivers will have their hands full in Seattle.
“We try to prepare the same for everybody. Our guys have set a very high standard and our expectations and their expectations are extremely high,” Helfrich said. “Anytime we are not knocking those standards over we want to improve and that will start with how we prepare and that but the actual structure of how we do things will not be any different.”
Tight end Colt Lyerla, who didn’t travel with the squad for violating team rules, missed the game against Colorado.
Helfrich stated in Sunday’s conference call that Colt returned to team activities and participated in treatment. However, it was announced Sunday night after the conference call that Lyerla is no longer with the team. With Lyerla gone, tight end Pharaoh Brown saw action after coming off an injury he suffered all fall camp.
“It’s nice to be back after sitting out the whole month of fall camp of watching football and not being able to play. It’s good to just be able to be back and just running around again,” Brown said.
Helfrich echoed that Brown has the ability to be a solid tight end for the Ducks.
“Pharaoh has all the tools. He’s got size, he’s (got) good speed, he’s got good hands. He can be a complete player, he’s one of those guys that needs to play,” Helfrich said. “He played some last year as a true freshman. His ability and desire are in the right direction.”
A concerning note for the Ducks after Saturday’s game was at the back-up quarterback position, where Jake Rodrigues and Jeff Lockie had moments to prove themselves in the game and fell short, both throwing interceptions.
“It’s frustrating when anybody turns the ball over,” Helfrich said. “It’s always tough in that position for those guys, because it’s kinda their time to shine and I think by human nature that is something we have to prepare against sometimes … they want to force things a little bit of make a spectacular play instead of just running the show.”