Nate Costa

Searching for a Wide Receiver Coach (and Offensive Coordinator-in-Waiting)

First, the news that everyone already seems to know: Matt Lubick will be the next Oregon offensive coordinator. He wants the opportunity and, as Mark Helfrich well knows, he definitely deserves it. Matt’s first game might be very interesting. The Ducks...

Agyeman and Costa Continue Oregon’s Rich Coaching Tradition

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Oregon head football coach Mark Helfrich leads the most tenured staff in college football

The Ducks aren’t just known for their endless innovative uniform combinations and a Heisman Trophy winner, but for also having the longest tenured coaching staff among the nation’s BCS Bowl Championship Subdivision — with six out of the eleven coaches having served more than ten years. Assistant Coach Gary Campbell is entering his 33nd season; it will be Strength and Conditioning Coach Jim Radcliffe’s 31st year, Assistant Coach Steve Greatwood’s 29th season and it’s been 22-years with the program for Defensive Coordinator Don Pellum.

It makes Oregon an anomaly.

In an era when coaches jump conferences for possibly greener turf every few seasons, when entire staffs are fired and loyalty is written on the walls of the locker room but often not practiced; the Ducks’ staff is devoted and rich in Oregon tradition.

Two recent additions to native Oregonian Mark Helfrich’s coaching staff are no strangers to that tradition. Former players returning as graduate assistants Nate Costa and Kwame Agyeman play vital roles in developing young talent — cleats they once filled just a few short seasons ago. Creating even more coaching continuity that translates from the film room to the locker room to the field contributing to Oregon’s success. Both took different paths to the clipboard but never strayed too far from the game after their last days at Autzen Stadium.

His ill-fated playing career — Quarterback Nate Costa famously endured three brutal knee injuries but finished his senior season in uniform at the 2010 BCS National Championship game and was voted the teams most inspirational player. In the summer of 2011, Costa was sworn in as a police officer for the Springfield Police Department but was forced to resign a few months later because of the health of his knees. He worked two seasons as an analyst for ComcastSportsNet.

Costa joined Helfrich’s staff in 2013 working with quarterbacks and wide receivers and quickly knew coaching was where he was supposed to be, “I didn’t know that I would be so passionate about recruiting. I’m just in love with coaching in general.”

The Hilmar, California native completed his master’s degree in educational leadership and says his biggest challenge is learning how to effectively communicate as a teacher, “Understanding that the person that you are talking to might not have a real grasp of what you are trying to explain so you might have to break it down in a way that they can understand it. I think as a player you take that for granted,” Costa said.

One of the aspects of his new role with the Ducks that he won’t ever take for granted, the reward of watching a competitor put in the work and see the results. Costa recalls last year when then true freshman Charles Nelson entered fall camp and it was obvious the young wide receiver had great athletic ability and a hunger to learn but there were some questions surrounding whether or not he was mentally ready for the complexities of Oregon’s offense.

“He did a lot work during fall camp and the first couple games of the season and got to the point where he wasn’t just learning his position he was learning the whole offense and other positions. Once he got to that point it was kind of like he can pretty much do anything that we are going to throw at him,” said Costa. “That’s very rewarding. And to see that hunger to learn more and be such a competitor. It’s every coach’s dream.”

As a linebacker for the Ducks from 2005 to 2007, Kwame Agyeman was on hand for some of the more memorable games in program history as the Ducks upset Oklahoma in 2006 at Autzen Stadium and overwhelmed Michigan in Ann Arbor a year later. Agyeman led the Ducks in tackles in 2006 and was near the top of the list in 2007 as well, finishing behind Jerome Boyd and Nick Reed. He played three seasons in the Arena Football League and started his coaching career at Thurston High School in Springfield. After two seasons as the recruiting assistant and special teams quality control assistant coach at Northwestern University, the Illinois native returned to Eugene for a spring break visit and reconnected with Coach Pellum and Coach John Neal. He expressed interest in returning as a graduate assistant if the opportunity ever came available.

A year later he got the call.

Agyeman interviewed on a Sunday, was offered the job on a Wednesday and says was back in Eugene by the next Sunday just in time for spring practices. “I packed my bags in a hurry.”

The defensive graduate assistant helps Pellum, the position coach he played under, in the day- to-day details and works with Neal in developing the young defensive backs like redshirt sophomore Ty Griffin, “really trying to help them come along.”  Agyeman said.

While Agyeman says having plenty of familiar faces in the building has made the transition easier to dive head first back into it, the defense Oregon is running now is an entirely new playbook for the 29-year-old.

“It’s 90-percent different than when I was here. It’s been great because personally I wanted to learn about the 3-4 defenses, a lot of the things we do now on the backend, it’s really high level stuff. It’s been a whole new learning experience for me as well,” Agyeman said.

Learning in the classroom is also a part of his day-to-day duties. If enduring the grueling hours and demanding schedule of a coaching season isn’t challenging enough try adding course work on top of that as Agyeman works towards his postgraduate degree. His graduate program so far is undeclared.

What is very clear is his decision to pursue coaching. While working at an Oregon youth football summer camp Agyeman’s team won some of the competitions and suddenly he understood why his coaches and teammates had been pushing him to get into coaching all those years. I mean, his teammates even affectionately nicknamed him “Coach Kwame.”

“I got that satisfaction like ‘Wow; this is what I’m supposed to be doing’. It’s kind of been full steam ahead from there and haven’t let anything stop me since then,” said Agyeman.

And like Costa, enjoys the challenge of when an athlete doesn’t “get it” right away and the real work begins.

Said Agyeman: “You work at it and you work at it and then finally the light comes on and now you see that they become a different guy to have that confidence, to me that feeling as a coach is better than any payment.”

Perhaps that kind of payment that you can’t put a monetary value on and the tradition and culture that has been created in the Oregon locker room is one of the same reasons why the core of the Oregon coaching staff have been planting some deep roots in Eugene for so many decades.

~ Nicole Abeyta
www.DuckNews.com

The post Agyeman and Costa Continue Oregon’s Rich Coaching Tradition appeared first on DuckNews.com.

Oregon Football: Without Mariota, Who Gets the Nod at QB?

With the news coming a few days ago about the transfer of QB Jake Rodrigues, the margin for error for the 2014 Oregon football team just shrunk a little bit more.  Faced with the daunting task of replacing talented receiver Bralon Addison and the host of graduated seniors, the Ducks already had their work cut out for them in reshuffling the roster.  But if we have learned anything about Oregon football since around 2005, it is that there will be at least one game (or more) next season where the team will need a critical contribution from it’s second-string QB.

The depth chart changes as Jake Rodrigues looks elsewhere for playing time.

The depth chart changes as Jake Rodrigues looks elsewhere for playing time.

A green Dennis Dixon and Brady Leaf took the reigns against Arizona in 2005, when starter Kellen Clemens was injured.  Two seasons later, Oregon used five quarterbacks to try to replace the production from an injured Dixon.

A few years later, it was Darron Thomas leaning on Bryan Bennett and Nate Costa during stretches of critical games.  Even in the Alamo Bowl last season, Jeff Lockie had to come into the game in a pinch with the Ducks in the red zone, while Mariota had to sit out in order to reattach his helmet.

Though the spring game is merely one of 15 allowable practice sessions, Jake Rodrigues displayed a different, more confident look than he had in years past.  He seemed to be fully over the horrific leg injury he suffered in high school.  And for this upcoming season, many were looking to the now-departed Rodrigues to be that experienced player at quarterback — one who is able to step in and keep some form of flow with the offense should the need arise.

So, let’s take an updated look at the remaining candidates vying to become the backup to Marcus Mariota.

Jeff Lockie

6′-2, 200 lbs, RS So. 2011′s East Bay Athletic league MVP at Monte Vista high school (Ca.) threw for 3,278 yards and 31 touchdowns through the air, and ran another seven more in for scores.  After a redshirt year in 2012, Lockie saw the field in nine games last year, going 8-13 for 57 yards with one interception and punched in an eight-yard run for the TD against Nicholls.

Spring Game Highlight: 41-yard pass to WR Austin Daich.

Damion Hobbs

6′-2, 200 lbs, RS Fr.  The dual threat QB from Cedar Hills, Texas, threw for more than 2,700 yards and ran for 800 more, scoring 39 total touchdowns and coming within inches of the 5A state championship.  The former three-star recruit redshirted in 2013, and would seem to be securely in the race for the backup job.

Spring Game Highlight: 49-yard TD pass to WR Devon Allen

Taylor Alie 6′, 175 lbs, RS Fr. (Walk-on) Accumulated impressive stats in high school, and was named as the Oregon 6A first team QB, after throwing for more than 3,200 yards, leading his team to an undefeated senior season and state championship.  The local Eugene and Sheldon High school quarterback took a redshirt season last season.

Spring GameHighlight: 21-yard TD pass to WR Darren Carrington

Morgan Mahalak 

6’3, 190 lbs (Incoming Freshman)  A Rivals.com 4-star recruit was recruited by a strong list of schools, and is listed as the 11th-rated quarterback nationally in the Class of ’14.  The Marin Catholic high school product has been committed to the Ducks for more than a year (04/30/13) and has not wavered despite others being interested.  While his talent and potential is unquestioned, it is tough to imagine any player walking in to a new situation and new playbook, and grasping enough in a few short months to have much impact on the field in games.

Jeff Lockie now has the most experience among the backup QB candidates -- by far -- and has thrown 13 career passes.

Jeff Lockie now has the most experience among the backup QB candidates — by far — and has thrown 13 career passes.

As you can see, the cupboard is not exactly bare, and there is time for the coaching staff to evaluate and develop the best option before the season kicks off.  Mariota is a truly special talent and hopefully, he gets to start every game and rest during many fourth-quarter blowout victories.  But with Oregon in the Pac-12 conference, how often does that actually happen?

Recent history suggests that for either a series, a half, or even full games, the Ducks will need an important contribution from their backup QB.  With Rodrigues now out, who will be that player be this season?  With the limited information available about Duck football practices, we may not find out until August 30th in Autzen Stadium, likely sometime during the 2nd half against South Dakota.

Top photo by Kevin Cline

Mark Helfrich Assaulting Record Books With Chip Kelly’s Best QB

Entering what is now the second spring of the Mark Helfrich era at Oregon, Chip Kelly’s influence remains visible across all facets of the Oregon football program.  From the up-tempo style of play Kelly initially installed as a coordinator to the commitment to unique and cutting-edge preparation with a focus on continuous daily improvement – as well as maintaining the invaluable coaching continuity — are all lasting hallmarks of his vision.

While Helfrich will inevitably put his own stamp on the program, he will be coaching a roster made up of many of Chip’s recruits for the next few years.  Even so, Helfrich likely served a substantial role in landing these recruits as offensive coordinator – one of which, quarterback Marcus Mariota, might be the very best of that bunch.

Mark Helfrich

Mark Helfrich

With that in mind, let’s compare the most productive quarterbacks of the Chip Kelly era.

Career Passing Yards
475/722 6,342 yards – Marcus Mariota
449/733 5,910 yards – Darron Thomas
444/695 5,129 yards – Dennis Dixon
313/544 3,891 yards – Jeremiah Masoli
168/309 1,660 yards – Brady Leaf
80/152 952 yards – Justin Roper
45/83 580 yards – Bryan Bennett
45/66 483 yards – Nate Costa

Career Rushing Yards
202 carries 1,467 yards – Marcus Mariota
248 carries 1,386 yards – Jeremiah Masoli
258 carries 1,208 yards – Dennis Dixon
132 carries 635 yards – Darron Thomas
67 carries 42 yards – Brady Leaf
62 carries 365 yards – Bryan Bennett
36 carries 139 yards – Nate Costa
32 carries 86 yards – Justin Roper

Total Touchdowns
77 – 63 pass/14 rush – Marcus Mariota
75 – 66 pass/9 rush – Darron Thomas
51 – 28 pass/23 rush – Jeremiah Masoli
50 – 38 pass/12 rush – Dennis Dixon
15 – 9 pass/6 rush – Bryan Bennett
11 – 9 pass/2 rush – Justin Roper
10 – 9 pass/1 rush – Brady Leaf
5 – 2 pass/3 rush – Nate Costa

Total Interceptions
21 – Dennis Dixon
17 – Darron Thomas
11 – Jeremiah Masoli
10 – Marcus Mariota
9 – Brady Leaf
6 – Justin Roper
3 – Bryan Bennett
1 – Nate Costa

Career Wins
24 (appeared in 31 games) – Darron Thomas
23 (appeared in 26 games) – Marcus Mariota
20 (appeared in 24 games) – Jeremiah Masoli
8* (appeared in 40 games) – Dennis Dixon
0** (appeared in 35 games) – Brady Leaf
3 (appeared in 16 games) – Bryan Bennett
2 (appeared in 16 games) – Nate Costa
1 (appeared in 10 games) – Justin Roper

*-Dixon was on the roster or played in parts of 32 total team wins.

**-Leaf often split time or finished games Dixon started. He was 0-2 during games against Oklahoma and at Washington State.

Mariota will likely be collecting more hardware in 2014.

Mariota will likely be collecting more hardware in 2014.

As you can see from the numbers, Mark Helfrich has been afforded the most productive quarterback of the Chip Kelly era by almost every measurable statistic.  Should Mariota be able to continue along this trajectory during his upcoming junior (and likely final) season, his numbers across the board will be exponentially higher than any of his predecessors.  His win total is on track to obliterate the career win numbers for the long line of greats who have played in Eugene.

When you add in his school records already achieved for most touchdowns, and also becoming the first Oregon QB to amass over 4,000 yards in a season at the end of last year, Duck fans in 2014 will suddenly find themselves watching simply the greatest quarterback in school history.  And it won’t even be close.

Top photo by Kevin Cline

 

Dustin Haines Will Hold Kicks for Ducks Football

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Dustin Haines
Dustin Haines
(GoDucks)

Oregon backup quarterback Dustin Haines is going into his senior year with the Ducks, and he’ll go in to the school year with a scholarship and now holding responsibilities.

While that may not sound exciting, the holder actually performs an important leadership role on the team at Oregon. Going for two is not just about trying to get more points; the strategy behind it is actually pretty sound. If the offense can force the opposing defense to spend extra amounts of time preparing for the possibilities of Oregon’s swinging gate formation, that’s less time spent on the actual defense.

In the case of the extra point, more frequently than not, the team will line up in an offset formation with all the blockers out left and just the kicker and holder behind the long snapper. In this case, Haines will be lined up behind the long snapper on most point after attempts and will have the full responsibility of deciding whether Oregon has an advantage and should go for two or not.

If there’s not some sort of imbalance favoring Oregon, Haines will wave everybody back in for the extra point kick.

Although that doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t fake it out of the kick formation.

Haines joins a line of pretty above average holders at Oregon. When current graduate assistant — and former quarterback — Nate Costa got hurt in the 2010 Washington game on a botched snap, his long and winding career ended. It was an ignominious end to a career full of badly timed injuries, but Costa is unanimously the best-ever at that position; getting a hold down against Arizona ensured Oregon had a shot at the Rose Bowl and thrust him into the spotlight.

Punter Jackson Rice took over in Costa’s injury and held the position until he graduated last year. And despite not being a quarterback, Rice’s quick judgement skills kept him successful in that position.

Haines is the fourth-string quarterback behind Marcus Mariota, Jake Rodrigues and Jeff Lockie. He was a three-year letterman at South Eugene High School before graduating and walking on at UO in 2009.

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March 2 – Morning Headlines

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Morning Headlines

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  • Turnovers Doom Ducks as WBB Falls 60-49 to Colorado
    March 2, 2013

    The Oregon Ducks Women’s Basketball team (4-25, 2-15) lost 60-49 No. 19 Colorado Buffaloes (23-5, 12-5) Friday night, keeping the Ducks in last place in the Pac-12 conference. more…
  • Nate Costa Returns to UO
    Former UO Quarterback and SportsNet analyst Nate Costa has been named as a graduate assistant coach for the Ducks. Costa was plagued with knee injuries during his college football career and his brief time with the Springfield Police Department.
  • Marist Falls 58-83 in OSAA 5A Playoffs
    The Spartans boys basketball team found themselves overmatched in last nights 5A playoff game against the third-seed Milwaukie Mustangs.  The Mustangs, leading by two at the end of the first period, proceeded to score the first 15 points of the second
  • Ford Mullen, last surviving Tall Fir, dies at 96
    Ford Mullen, the last surviving member of the University of Oregon’s 1938-39 NCAA Championship basketball team, died Thursday in his hometown of Stanwood, Wash. The 5-foot-8 Mullen, who turned 96 on Feb. 9, was a reserve guard for the “Tal

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Keep Current: – EDN Headline News, Sports and Weather

Tim Chuey Weather:

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[gn_note color=#eee][Accuweather][/gn_note]

With cold fronts marching our way you can expect cooler temperatures and increasing chances of rain for your weekend.

An upper level high pressure ridge (Shaded “Arch” shape) kept the rain away for your Friday as well as warming us up to ten degrees above average. The cold portion of a frontal system will slide in today returning the cooler air and rain chances.  An upper level trough of low pressure (Shaded “U” shape) will bring us back to the rainy weather as it replaces the ridge. What looks to be a strong storm system will approach the Pacific Northwest Monday and move through Tuesday continuing the chance of rain.

[gn_spoiler title=”ADVISORIES” open=”0″ style=”1″]NONE AT THIS TIME[/gn_spoiler]

High: HIGH
Low: LOW
Forecast: Mostly cloudy with patchy fog this AM, cloudy with a good (50%) chance of rain this afternoon (under 0.10 in. of rain possible), showers and colder tonight (0.25 in. of rain possible), a slight (20%) chance of AM showers, partly cloudy Sunday afternoon through Monday with patchy AM fog, then mostly cloudy with rain likely (70%) Monday night highs 58-50 warming to 55 Monday lows 38-32 warming to 37 Monday night. Mostly cloudy with rain Tuesday, cloudy with a good (50%) chance of showers at night, showers likely (60%) Thursday, a (30%) chance of showers at night, then partly cloudy with a slight (20%) chance of showers Friday highs 49-52 lows near 38. (seasonal averages high 54 low 36)

Because weather forecasting is a combination of science, intuition, and timing there can be no absolute guarantees that individual forecasts will be 100% accurate. Nature is in a constant state of flux and sudden unexpected weather events can happen.

Keep Current on the Weather: timchueyweather4u.com

Benefit For Autism

When the weather forecast is bad and the news is bad, there is always music. In this case it’s an album of exceptional local Eugene talent whose proceeds benefit the Kindtree Autism Rocks charity. Support Autism, the arts, and a bright spot in your day.

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Ready When Needed

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— Sam Finley, EDN Sports Editor

Bryan Bennett definitely knows about the area the Ducks will be playing in on the second day of January. The 6’3, 205-pound redshirt freshman grew up in Granada Hills, California and attended high school in nearby Encino.

Bryan Bennett stepped in admirably this season while Darron Thomas was hurt. (Photo Credit: Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

“It was nice growing up in So Cal,” said Bennett with a soft-spoken laugh. “We were definitely spoiled with the nice weather and all the nice things like that. I’m definitely happy to be going back home for this game.”

Oregon’s current backup quarterback admired a certain athlete when he was a kid . Not surprisingly, it was a guy who played the same position.

“Brett Favre was my favorite,” he explained. “I just liked his style of play. He was a competitor, and would always continue to work hard. Favre also had a big, strong arm and I liked that.”

That being said, why would a someone who enjoyed the Southern California climate choose Eugene for college football as opposed to USC or UCLA?

“I thought that Oregon was the best fit for me,” Bennett said of his decision to come here. “When I was going through the recruiting process, I felt like that this was the place I needed to be.”

Right now, Bennett has found himself behind Darron Thomas on the depth chart. But he’s taken his role in stride.

Bryan Bennett is willing to help the Ducks out any way he can. (Photo Credit: Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

“Everybody wants to be playing,” he stated. “I want to be a starter, but that’s not my role on the team at the moment. So I’ll do what I can to help this team and stay positive. I’m just doing whatever the coaches ask me to do right now. I try to be a leader in the best way I can. And if I’m asked to step in, I have to be ready to do that.”

He certainly proved he could play at a moment’s notice this season. After Thomas went down with a knee injury against Arizona State, Bennett effectively managed the Ducks to a 41-27 victory over the Sun Devils. A week later against Colorado, he completed 11 of 20 passes for 156 yards and two touchdowns in a 45-2 win in Boulder. Finally, Bennett threw for two more scores in the second half, helping Oregon edge Washington State 43-28.

“I just reassured myself that I could do this,” said Bennett of his playing experience. “It reinforced that I could be a quarterback at the University of Oregon.”

So does Bennett take any pride that he, in his own way, helped his Ducks win their third consecutive Pac-12 title?

“I never even looked at it like that,” he claimed. “But I was just happy to help my team when they needed me.”

He’s been happy to help out his squad, just as he’s been assisted by many of his teammates like Thomas. Bennett said the current starting signal caller has gone out of his way to show him the ropes.

Bryan Bennett is excited to be running home to play in the Rose Bowl. (Photo Credit: Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

“Darron has helped me out a lot,” said Bennett. “So did (then-backup) Nate Costa when I first got here last year. But DT and I are always side-by-side in the team meetings and on the field. (As are fellow quarterbacks Marcus Mariota, Dustin Haines and Brennan Doty). We’re always working together with offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich. The group we have around us is what makes our quarterbacks so special at Oregon.”

Maybe this is why Bennett is willing to wait his turn for more playing time (most likely in a couple years), and will continue to sharpen his skills before that happens.

“I think I’ve become smarter about the game,” he explained. “I can always learn more about the playbook and other new things like other defenses, as well as the overall game of football. That’s allowed me to grow and mature.”

Whatever his current role might be, he’s elated that Oregon will be at the Rose Bowl early next month.

“I’m very excited to go to Pasadena,” Bennett said. “I’ve been watching the Rose Bowl for a long time. When I was in high school, I used to go watch UCLA play there all the time. I’m just happy that a lot of my family will be able to go and I’ll get to see them afterwards.”

The fifth-ranked Ducks will face a stiff test against tenth-ranked Wisconsin. However, Bennett is confident that they’ll be ready for the challenge.

“We just need to continue to prepare,” he claimed. “We need to do the best we can day in and day out. If we do those things, then I think we’ll have a good shot to go out there and play our game.”