With the departure of former head coach Chip Kelly to the Philadelphia Eagles, fans of college football from around the nation eagerly waited to see who Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens would choose to fill the highly sought position.
Needless to say, while many Oregon fans were hoping Mullens would give the job to an in-house candidate, many Nike University haters were hoping for a hire that would send the Ducks back into a string of Holiday bowls and equally matched rivalry games.
Mullens, however, did what was right for the program and hired offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich. Helfrich has been OC for the last four years under coach Kelly, so it's not like he is new to Oregon's system. If Kelly trusts him, so should Duck nation.
Most of the reports coming out are saying that, for the most part, Helfrich will keep everything the way it is so that the program "keeps things rolling."
Even though I believe that the system and style will remain intact, I do believe Helfrich will differ in one area—the passing game.
In the past, Chip Kelly was known as a run first type of coach. He would run the ball until defenses proved they could stop the explosiveness of players like LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner. This worked very well for Kelly, but I find it hard to believe we will see the same from Helfrich.
Helfrich grew up playing quarterback. He's been a quarterbacks coach for over ten years and will continue to think like a quarterback when he is on the sidelines, messaging plays to a very talented Marcus Mariota.
The Ducks have an experienced group of wide receivers coming back next year with players like Josh Huff, De'Anthony Thomas, Keanon Lowe and Bralon Addison. Utilizing these speedsters more often than not will open up holes in the running game for a very inexperienced backfield that will most likely feature sophomore Byron Marshall and freshman speedster Thomas Tyner.
As someone who watches Ducks sports religiously, I have noticed that Oregon's passing game is very on point. Kelly kept passes short and rarely called plays that allowed Mariota to throw long bombs deep.
When they did throw it deep, though, they were usually always open.
Mark my words, Marcus Mariota will put up huge numbers next year. Oregon will return to winning the Pac-12 Conference and Mark Helfrich will be named the conference coach of the year.
Follow Shannon Hartley on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/shannh3
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