EUGENE - Entering last Saturday's game with Colorado, coach Mark Helfrich knew something was a little different. He said Thursday, that his team was quiet and didn't have their "normal urgent edge."
The result was a sluggish opening ten minutes of play, granting Colorado a 10-8 lead, before the guys righted the ship and outscored the Buffs 48-6.
"As the kickoff approached there was just a different feel to our guys. We talked about and hopefully we've remedied that situation," Helfrich said of his team entering the game. "That was my fault. We have to make sure we're dialed in, whether's it's Tuesday at 10 a.m. or kickoff."
Saturday's contest with the No. 15 Washington Huskies has all of the makings of the first true test for the 2013 Ducks. The game is after all a rivalry game, played in a newly renovated stadium with north division title implications in play.
An out-of-character focus might not be enough against UW, but Helfrich isn't concerned about that this week.
"I think our guys will be ready to go," he said.
Helfrich was asked once again if star all-purpose back De'Anthony Thomas was full-speed, and was surprisingly candid.
"I don't know, that's a good question. Currently? Probably not."
While Thomas' absence would be most felt at running back, at least the Ducks have two proven runners to fill the gap.
His role on kickoffs might be a different story, and Helfrich said they've been rotating Keanon Lowe (who is normally deep with Thomas), Troy Hill, Thomas Tyner, Byron Marshall and Josh Huff in practice return situations.
The Husky kickoff unit struggled in last week's loss to Stanford. Those struggles began early, as Ty Montgomery took the opening kick 99 yards for a score and took another 68 yards in the third quarter.
"Our kickoff return team has been one block away all season," said punt returner Bralon Addison "This could be the weekend that if we get everybody on their assignment and do everything as a whole, we could get to the end zone on a kickoff return."