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DUCKS NOTES: Helfrich has perspective


SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Oregon Ducks offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich hails from Coos Bay and played quarterback at Marshfield High and Southern Oregon College.

He says he and his family attended Ducks games, pre-1989, when the school's long bowl drought ended with an appearance in the Independence Bowl.

Helfrich calls it "The Steve Greatwood Era," ribbing the veteran UO offensive line coach who played with the Ducks when the players could only dream about appearing in bowl games.

"You used to be able to play full, 11-on-11 (pick-up) football games in the parking lot (of Autzen Stadium)," Helfrich adds, of his days watching Oregon games. "You can't do that anymore."

• Helfrich pulled out some funny lines when talking about the time when both Oregon redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota and Texas A&M's Heisman Trophy-winning freshman QB Johnny Manziel both verbally committed to the Ducks in late June 2010.

Manziel de-committed from the Ducks, went to College Station, Texas and lit the college football world on fire this season.

Mariota, outside of the loss to Stanford, also shined, completing 69.9 percent of his passes for 2,511 yards and 30 TDs, with six interceptions. He also rushed for 690 yards (7.0 per carry) and four TDs.

"Johnny had a great season, but we certainly wouldn't trade anybody off our team," says Helfrich, before jokingly adding, "Marcus is taller, faster and better looking."

• Fun fact No. 1: Mariota doesn't like social media, especially Twitter. He says all the Twitter accounts with his name attached to them are fakes, and he refuses to take part.

Fun fact No. 2: UO running back Kenjon Barner, being from Southern California, likes water sports, like wakeboarding and wakesurfing.

Fun fact No. 3: Oregon defensive end Dion Jordan's final game — Thursday's Oregon-Kansas State Fiesta Bowl at Glendale, Ariz. — comes in his home area; he is from Chandler, Ariz.

Jordan essentially has been home since leaving Eugene on Dec. 21.

"To enjoy all of this in my own backyard is great," he says. "Everything worked itself out. I'm going to try to make the most of this experience."

• The Ducks will be wearing white uniforms and helmets in the Fiesta Bowl — the same ensemble as when they beat USC 62-51 on Nov. 3, Barner says.

"It's special to me," says Barner, who had a school-record 321 yards on 38 carries, with five TDs, in the USC game.

• The Ducks said they had footing problems two years in the BCS title game at University of Phoenix stadium, the site of the Fiesta Bowl.

"We definitely want to break in our cleats, long enough where they get some stability in the ground," linebacker Michael Clay says. "They put new turf in. So, I don't think turf will be an issue this year."

• The ESPN crew doing the Fiesta Bowl, 5:30 p.m. PT Thursday at University of Phoenix Stadium: Brad Nessler, play-by-play; Todd Blackledge, analyst; Holly Rowe, reporter.