EUGENE — Mark Helfrich said he cautions his Oregon football players about avoiding trouble when they’re away from the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex.
The coach had a new example of what happens to those who get in trouble with the law, dismissing defensive lineman Austin Maloata from the program just a few hours after Oregon’s 52-27 loss to Stanford on Saturday. Maloata was arrested for DUII, reckless driving and possession of a controlled substance.
Maloata is the third defensive lineman disciplined by Helfrich this season, after Torrodney Prevot and Eddie Heard were suspended indefinitely. Prevot is being investigated after a female student filed a complaint accusing him of assault, and Heard was arrested last month on misdemeanor assault and harassment charges.
Reports also emerged this week that wide receiver Darren Carrington has been accused of assault by a former student.
And on Thursday night, the Daily Emerald reported that tight end Pharaoh Brown allegedly fought teammates Matt Wogan in 2014 and Paris Bostick this year and was investigated by Eugene police after a fight with his girlfriend in 2015.
According to the Emerald, the Lane County District Attorney’s office determined that Brown’s girlfriend was the “primary aggressor in the altercation.”
On Thursday morning, before the report on Brown was published, Helfrich said his message to the team on discipline has stayed consistent.
“That’s something we talk about all the time,” the coach said after practice. “I don’t think it’s really more or less. Some things are very apparent to them that occur, and we discuss that.”
Helfrich says he’s concerned that the off-field incidents have tarnished the program.
“We certainly talk about perception,” he said. “One person does one thing on the football team that paints everybody. That’s an unfortunate reality. They also have a lot of things that other people don’t have, and they need to realize that.”
Helfrich said that Brown, who suffered a gruesome leg injury at Utah two years ago that forced him to sit out an entire season, might not return to the field at Rice-Eccles Stadium when Oregon visits the Utes at 11 a.m. Saturday. Brown injured his leg during Oregon’s loss to Stanford.
“I don’t know,” Helfrich said when asked if Brown would play against Utah. “He tested it (Wednesday and Thursday) and we’ll find out.”
Brown has been Oregon’s leading receiver in three consecutive games, including six catches for 93 yards against the Cardinal. Brown ranks third on the team with 33 catches for 426 yards with a team-high five touchdowns.
Oregon has had trouble keeping its tight ends healthy this season. Brown previously missed the loss to Colorado. Johnny Mundt missed four games early in the season, and Evan Baylis was out injured for two games.
Prevot has been suspended the entire season and Heard has missed the past two games. Maloata was suspended for the loss to USC but returned to play against Stanford before his dismissal.
Oregon has also been without defensive linemen Canton Kaumatule and Ratu Mafileo, who had to retire for medical reasons. Freshman lineman Drayton Carlberg has been out most of the past month because of an injury.
Asked about replacing Maloata, defensive coordinator Brady Hoke said that the losses on the line have added to Oregon’s difficulties on defense.
“We lost Carlberg the last four weeks. Anybody (out) always hurts you,” he said.
Helfrich happy with Devon Allen’s decision
Helfrich said he approved of wide receiver Devon Allen’s decision to skip his senior season of football and turn pro in track.
Oregon’s two-sport star, who is out for the season with a torn ACL suffered in the third game at Nebraska, announced Wednesday that he would no longer compete in either sport for the Ducks. Allen will turn pro in track and train for the 2020 Summer Olympics.
He finished fifth at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and won the 110-meter hurdles at the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials at Hayward Field.
“He talked about this a month or so ago about how he was planning to work this out and what his plans were,” Helfrich said. “I fully support him and can’t wait to be a fan.”
In three seasons with the Ducks, Allen had 54 catches for 919 yards and eight touchdowns in 29 games. He also tore his ACL in the 2015 Rose Bowl, which limited his role on the team last season.
Allen has been a regular at practice and on the sideline for games.
“He’s been awesome,” Helfrich said. “One of the toughest things coming in this year of just vocal leadership and he was one of the top guys. Having that void created by his absence was big. He has done a nice job, as best as possible of trying to fill that still.”