Family reunions are generally a time to catch up with long lost relatives, share stories of new beginnings and enjoy the time with those you care about most.
The match-up between the CU Buffaloes (0-2, 0-0 Big 12) and the No. 22 Arizona State Sun Devils (2-0, 0-0 Pac-10) on Sept. 16 will be a family reunion of sorts for Buffs offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich. He served as the passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Arizona State for five seasons prior to joining new head coach Dan Hawkins’ staff in December. Helfrich still has many “relatives” in Tempe, so The Campus Press sat down with him to find out how he is preparing for the reunion.
The Campus Press: Obviously, you spent five years coaching at Arizona State. So what are your thoughts and emotions heading into the game?
Helfrich: From a lot of standpoints it’s game day. It’s the normal preparation scenarios that we go through throughout the season, but there are certainly a lot of guys both on the staff and the players that I know very personally, whether it was coaching with them, recruiting them, the like. Those bonds are there, but on the same token, it is a lot like competing against your brother. You always want to beat him, but they are still your brother.
CP: Does the fact that both teams are utilizing similar offenses change the way you prepare for the game or change your game plan at all?
Helfrich: Not really. They have really changed their defense quite a bit. They are playing outstanding right now. They have made some structural changes and some personnel changes that have really helped them. There really won’t be any surprises offensively from either team. They have been doing it for six years now. Six years versus two games for us is a little different, but we will get there.
CP: How involved are you with defensive coordinator Ron Collins this week? Can you tell him what to expect offensively from ASU since you were calling the plays there?
Helfrich: Ron and I have talked. There are not too many secrets out there as far as what to stop or how to stop them. We have certainly talked about their personnel, who their guys are and who to kind of watch out for. Unfortunately, they are very talented, so we will see how that goes.
CP: Arizona State has done very well so far this year. They are 2-0, offense is rolling, defense is playing well and then on the other hand CU is kind of struggling. You were there for five years, and now they are finally getting into the national spotlight, working into the Top 25 teams in the nation. Do you regret not sticking around for that with those guys you worked so closely with to get them to that point?
Helfrich: No, not at all. That is the fruits of the labor, the six years of building to that point. I recruited Rudy Carpenter and Sam Keller and all those guys that have got it going for them. It is the result of time, of developing within a program internally and externally, and of course on the field.
CP: Do you think that your familiarity with the coaching staff and players will have an effect on your emotions on game day when you’re calling plays? Will you go for the jugular to kind of show them what they are missing when you maybe should develop the game plan on the field or vice versa?
Helfrich: Well, we certainly won’t hang back. We don’t need to worry about our throttle in any way. We have got to kind of figure out who we are right now. Once you are in a game, you’re in the game, and then you don’t really think about that stuff too much.