Planning for success: Oregon

In the Oregon weekly game notes, the only mention of turnovers is when it lists where the Ducks stand in the national rankings.

There is no separate paragraph or graphic or headline that reads: “Hey look at us! We haven’t turned the ball over yet.”

There’s a reason for that.

“It’s a bit like being in the middle of a no-hitter,” said Oregon coach Mark Helfrich. “You’re in the middle of a no-hitter, so you can’t go up to the pitcher and talk about that stuff. But we certainly talk about ball security and decision-making and all the things that contribute that type of number.”

As alluded to in that fictional headline, the Ducks have zero turnovers on the year with a glowing plus-seven turnover margin and an average of 2.33 per game. The Ducks have recovered four fumbles and picked off three passes in their first three games.

“It’s the No. 1 contributing factor to winning and losing,” Helfrich said. “The No. 1 thing is turning the ball over and then how you respond when you get a turnover. We can be better at that offensively. We want to be greedy and we want to score touchdowns when we get a free possession.”

Oregon’s opponent this week, California, has been quite opportunistic itself in the turnover department with six on the year (3-3). But they have also turned the ball over six times, giving them a margin of zero.

The turnover margin is just one many reasons the Ducks are off to a 3-0 start and ranked second in the nation. Coming off the bye week, Oregon opens Pac-12 play after easily dispatching Nicholls State, Virginia on the road and Tennessee. In all three games the Ducks have eclipsed 50 points. It’s the fifth time in school history they’ve reached the half-century mark in three straight games, but they’ve never done it four games in a row.

That’s news to Helfrich.

“I don’t think I could literally tell you any statistic we have,” he said. “I’m not just saying that. It’s just not something we talk about. Hopefully we turn it over on defense and not turn it over on offense and that lends itself to winning. This is a byproduct of that. We try to do our deal.

“The luckiest part of that is we’ve got a bunch of great players that believe in what they are doing. That makes everybody look smart.”