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Old home week for Oregon coach at Colorado

The SportsXchange

EUGENE, Ore. -- Coach Mark Helfrich makes his first trip back to Colorado as head coach for Oregon on Saturday.

Helfrich will be an overwhelming favorite as he leads No. 2-ranked Oregon (4-0) into Boulder to face the Buffaloes (2-1).

Helfrich was the offensive coordinator for three seasons at Colorado before being hired to that same position at Oregon in 2009. Helfrich coached at Colorado under Dan Hawkins, who has since been fired, followed by the firing of his replacement, Jon Embree, before Mike MacIntyre was hired this season.

"The people of Colorado and living there was a great experience and obviously I wish we could have won more and a great deal of that is my fault, but yeah, you learn a thousand things," Helfrich said.

Helfrich said his best memory of Colorado was the birth of his son, Max, and added that he didn't expect to get too emotional upon his return. He was the offensive coordinator when the Ducks won at Colorado in 2011.

"It'll be slightly different, but for the most part, the administration is different and the coaching staff is different, so there is so much turnover from a time when it might be more emotional that doesn't come into play," Helfrich said. "Certainly, at a place you used to work, it is always a little different. A little awkward to come out of the visiting locker room at a place you worked, but more or less, I approach it like any other team."

Colorado started the season with back-to-back wins to exceed last year's one-win season, but then lost 44-17 at Oregon State on Saturday.

"They're definitely a lot better and the first couple games were a lot different," Helfrich said. "They played really, really well defensively and are doing some things very sound, creating pressure."

The Ducks have outscored opponents by an average of 49 points per game. The Ducks scored more than 50 points in four straight games for the first time in school history and rank second in the country with 59.8 points per game and third in total offense at 599.3 yards per game while leading the country with 332.5 rushing yards per contest.

"Obviously, from a record standpoint, we wouldn't want it any other way," Helfrich said. "That's part of the bottom line, but we can play a lot better and that's encouraging in a lot iof ways. In every phase. As good as our defense has been, we can be better. As good as our speical teams have been, we can shore up some things there, and offensively we can get a ton better. We have players that want to do that and be part of that. That's fun to be around and hopefully we think our best days are ahead."

Oregon could be without junior running back De'Anthony Thomas against Colorado. Thomas averaged more than 112 rushing yards in Oregon's first three games, but suffered an ankle injury on the opening kickoff against California and did not return.

Thomas said he would have to wait and see how he felt later in the week to determine his playing status, but Oregon could choose to rest him against Colorado so that he is healthy the following week at Washington.
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