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Valero Alamo Bowl: Oregon vs TCU Thursday, December 10, 2015

Mark Helfrich Gary Patterson

COACH HELFRICH: “Thank you, Derrick. On behalf of President Schill and the University of Oregon we’re well represented here with kind of our advanced team. Thank you to Mike and to Gary. The only negative of coming here is you play against a really, really good football team. But I have a ton of respect for Coach Patterson. I’ve known him for a long time, and just have the highest regard for what he’s been able to do. We are 1-0 against Hall of Fame coaches in the Alamo Bowl; we’re going to try like heck to make that 2-0. But I can’t say enough about what they’ve done. I think we have very similar seasons this year in terms of some untimely injuries and that kind of thing. But two extremely talented teams that are very excited to be in San Antonio. Our family and our program, our players are very excited to be back. So thank you.”

COACH PATTERSON: “Thanks, also on behalf of our Chancellor Victor Boschini and all TCU fans. As you saw how the tickets went and the boxes, TCU people are very excited to be here in San Antonio. This will be our first time to be here. But to play against such a great opponent. Obviously watched Oregon from afar, and Coach and I have come back a long ways as far as our roots and as far as people that we know through our years of coaching. So to play a team like Coach Helfrich said, really probably come down the same path this year of injuries and then getting, he’s probably on the other end where they’re getting a little healthier. We kind of got banged up at the end. But our team fought at the end to lose a two-point conversion to Oklahoma and win a double overtime against Baylor. So we’ve grown up quite a bit. Played 30 freshmen during the season as we went along. But really, it’s been a great team to play with. They’ve really fought. We’ve had our last-moment wins against Texas Tech and against Kansas State. So come down here and play a part of such a great bowl game, play an unbelievable football team in Oregon, I think is a jump start one way or the other. I think you find with a young football team that you either grow up and they find what they have to do next year to be able to play, and also have an opportunity possibly to win a ballgame so that on a national stage people understand, because everybody understands the kind of program Oregon has playing in the playoffs a year ago. So we feel like it’s a special time.”

COACH HELFRICH (On running back Royce Freeman…)

“Royce is a top-notch guy, first of all. Just a great person, comes from a great family out in the Inland Empire, California. He’s a guy that I think was very overshadowed, unfortunately, with kind of some early losses. He was out of any talk for individual awards and accolades. I know that doesn’t mean a ton to him, but it’s unfortunate for him. But working to be a complete back that can run, can catch. He’s a good protector, good route runner, but more than anything, he’s a great practice player. He comes from a long line of LaMichael James from Texarkana, Texas, a great practice player as a tailback, and that’s hard. Those guys take a beating, and for him to come back every single day in practice and work his tail off is a huge testament to the type of kid he is.”

COACH HELFRICH (On whether Scott Frost will be involved in the bowl game…)

“So the question is about Scott Frost and his role. Scott will not be involved in our game, which is unfortunate for him, but obviously he has a full plate with him taking over at Central Florida. He’s a guy that’s had a bunch of opportunities the last several years. I know Coach Patterson is going through a similar thing right now. But it’s a testament to our guys, to our players, to our program that he has that opportunity. Because of that, it’s unfortunate, again, for him that he wants to participate but can’t. But, yeah, basically we do everything collaboratively anyway from an offensive standpoint, myself, Matt Lubick, Steve Greatwood, Gary Campbell, and a Texas native, and Tom Osborne put together the game plans collaboratively, and it will either be me or Matt Lubick.”

COACH HELFRICH (On facing a challenging team in TCU…)

“Tough, hard, physical, fundamentally sound, really good football players in every phase. That, I think, is the hallmark of any great football team is how hard they play and then special teams. Those guys are very well coached, and they get that going back for every single team that Coach Patterson’s had, you can say that. Sometimes there are some ups and downs at this position or that position, but they play hard and they play for four quarters. So that makes you sit up on the edge of your seat. Offensively they’ve been phenomenal this year. Trevone Boykin, I think, it’s important for him to take a couple more weeks off and really get ready for next year, maybe get him ready for spring ball, I think, is vital (laughing). Yeah…but just a tremendous challenge, huge challenge.”

COACH HELFRICH (On team health at this point in the season…)

“Nobody is healthy at this point in the season. There are a couple guys that we had out of our last game that might be able to get back, but unfortunately our injuries were a little bit longer term than some. But we’ll show up and play like heck.”

COACH HELFRICH (On free safety Charles Nelson…)

“Yeah, we went through, as you said, growing pains is a fair statement. We had four senior starters last year, and obviously that changed at the beginning of this year. Through the course of the season those guys have matured, played better, and played smarter. 90% of it a lot of times, and Charles Nelson stepping back in there and learning the position on the fly, he’s a guy that’s dynamic. He would be kind of like the kid that places never event, swim meet, and goes to the track and does every event at the track and wins everything. That’s kind of how he wants to do football, and that’s a little bit harder. But he is a phenomenal football player. He’s physical and still has the ability to play in sprits on offense.”

COACH HELFRICH (When asked if Charles Nelson switching to defense was Charles’ idea…)

“Yeah, it was his idea. In the offseason we had approached him. One of his best attributes is covering kickoffs, and doing that lends itself to being a good defender, a good secondary player. We discussed that in the off-season, and he wanted to play offense. During the course of the season he kind of said, hey, I need to help the squad out a little bit, and he came to us, and we made that determination.”

COACH PATTERSON (On his team’s level of desire heading into the game…)

“Well, like I said from the very first when this was announced, I thought we were playing a playoff team. I think Oregon is playing at a very high level. I felt the same way last year against Ole Miss when we played in the Peach Bowl. It’s one more chance for our seniors. It’s a resume game. Everybody talks about Oregon’s skill players, but one of the biggest attributes they have, their offensive line is very, very good, very physical. You watch them throwing people around, throwing them down, doing things. It all goes hand in hand. But I think for our kids, it’s a resume game. I thought last year’s game, playing in a bowl game late where everybody gets a chance to watch really is a springboard one way or the other. And I think playing somebody of this level, there really was a team that had an opportunity to beat both the two teams that played in the Pac-12 championship game decisively, I think, speaks of where they came as a program and how they were playing at the end of the year. So having been in this position for 15 years, you can kind of give coach speak. But one things you have to do, if you know me any, you have to be honest. You have to tell your kids what they’re going into, who they’re going to play, and the kind of team that they’re going to be part of in a ballgame. I think if they’re not fired up, then they’re watching the wrong film. Everything that I’ve gotten from the time we found out who the ballgame was our kids were way excited. We’ve got a lot of young players so this will be their first one playing in this kind of a ballgame. You’ll have 30 guys that were red-shirts or true freshmen that grew up. So to play against this level of competition, I think, has to be very exciting and lets us know what we have to do in the off-season, win or lose to keep getting better so we can jump back and have a chance to win a conference title and get back into one of those four-team playoff games. So you’ve got to get ready to go.”

COACH HELFRICH (On quarterback Vernon Adams, Jr.’s accomplishments since arriving to Oregon…)

“The biggest thing is he showed up and went to work. It was very unfortunate the timing was kind of self-inflicted, not his fault, but self-inflicted of when he arrived for fall camp later than ideal and he just went to work. Probably the thing that said the most about him is after he’s hurt, he stayed in it. A lot of guys get to that point, whether it’s a senior or guy that’s coming out and they get nicked and dinged, they kind of shut it down. He did the exact opposite. He went back to work. He was mimicking the action on every single practice play when he was nicked and dinged. Lot of times that doesn’t happen. So I think just his work ethic won everybody over and has gradually improved within the offense and does some special things outside of the offense that make him unique.”

COACH PATTERSON (When asked if his defense can shut down Oregon with weeks of preparation…)

“I don’t know about shut down. I think what you try to do is you’re more prepared and you’re healthier. One of the things we’ve always had a chance to do is to get ourselves back. The way we’ve always prepared, I think, has allowed us to be — I think one of the things coaches like is by the end of the season your team is broken down, and it gives you an opportunity to get back in the weight room, to get back out running. So you’re rested, you’re stronger again, and your kids have an opportunity to really give yourself the best chance to play because you do prepare. Especially with a young football team, you know, and you’re playing — you’re talking about a team that has a quarterback like they do that extends plays, so you need more time to be able to understand how do you try to corral somebody like that? But as they do on their team at Oregon, one of the best defenses is your offense. For us, getting Trevone back healthy, being able to run the offense and do some things. We kind of sputtered when he struggled, and I think the same thing happened to Oregon. When you lose that trigger guy, it makes it very difficult when everything revolves around him to do the things you need to do. Then they get healthy and they play. For him, one last time, a guy that, you know, was a guy that was a Heisman contender to get him a chance to build his resume and show the kind of player that he is on a great stage in a great ballgame against a great team, I think, is perfect. So I think he’s very excited about this opportunity.”

 COACH PATTERSON (When asked if any offensive changes will be made before the game…)

“Obviously, everybody has a couple wrinkles, but I think one of the key things is to be able to execute at a high level. So I think you’ll see what we do. That is one of the keys to this offense is just try to educate at a high level and for your kids to play fast, especially against a team like Oregon that plays fast also. So you’ve got to be able to play fast. Obviously, you always have a few wrinkles that you try to do where your kids have time to do all of it, and I’m sure that Oregon will have the same.”

COACH HELFRICH (When asked if any offensive changes will be made before the game…)

“Yeah, I think Coach said it. Your conditioning, your timing are things that you’re trying to get back. I think at this point they’re tired, going through the gauntlet, the pressure of you-can’t-lose-type of moments. Coach had them rolling and had some guys dinged up. There is that mental. They need some time away. Believe it or not, they need some time away from us and be as normal as possible for a little bit while still preparing for finals and all the things that go on in their lives. Then you have to crank it back up and be great at special teams and cover well or throw and catch and do all those things to keep your rhythm and your timing so you can try to execute against a team like TCU.”

COACH HELFRICH (On what he respects about Coach Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs…)

“Culture. Coach Popovich, I think we’ve stolen a lot of just how they do things. How they establish, maintain, and ascend as a culture. Then as a Blazers fan, with LaMarcus Aldridge coming down here, that hurt by the way, just following his courting. Most NBA teams it’s all about money, and I, and what they can do for that person, and the Spurs kind of appear to do it how we try to do it. It has nothing to do with the individual. It’s all about us, and how can you be part of something great? How can you blend in and elevate a culture by showing up? So we have had nowhere near any percentages that they have, but we’re trying like heck.”

COACH HELFRICH (On the resiliency of his team after a 3-3 start…)

“Well, I think this says a lot about our players and assistant coaches of keeping guys focused. There are so many gurus and voices who have all the answers. To come in every single day and look at the film good or bad and own it and fix the bad stuff, continue to do good stuff and stay focused on the process. So I think it just, again, says a ton about their character. And the assistant coaches that kept them pointed in the right direction.”