Oregon is 2-4 on the year and well on their way to the Ducks’ worst season in a decade. A humiliating 70-21 loss to rival Washington — breaking a streak of 12 straight wins — seemed to be a low point however for a program that was one of the darlings of college football and in the national title game not too long ago.
That kind of lopsided game at Autzen Stadium is quite rare for the home team and prompted plenty of criticism from both inside and outside the team about the direction the program was headed in. One of the more eye-brow raising comments came from one of the team’s veteran offensive lineman after the game.
“We’ve got some guys on our team who are busting their tails to win and other guys on our team that don’t even care if we win or lose,” senior Cameron Hunt told the Eugene Register-Guard, estimating 30 to 40 percent of the team falls into the latter category. “I don’t think everyone is bought-in.”
Head coach Mark Helfrich addressed the media after practice on Thursday and tried to downplay any notion of a rift on the team, directly refuting that part of the team has given up on the season.
“Guys are speaking very emotionally after a game. They’re frustrated and competitive guys and you say things that are not true,” Helfrich said. “There’s no truth to what was said. Guys are frustrated and that’s fine.”
Oregon is on a timely bye this week and Helfrich noted he met with a good portion of the team individually as well as various position groups about all that is going on. While there’s been plenty of talk that he may be on his way out with such a bad season unfolding, he said he has felt plenty of support from athletic director Rob Mullens despite the team’s current record.
You can certainly understand a few college-age players getting frustrated after such a bad loss like the one the Ducks went through against Washington and it makes plenty of sense that a head coach would come out and refute any notion that the ship is sinking. Still, it will be interesting to keep an eye on the team’s comments going forward as they face an uphill battle the rest of the season to even make a bowl game.