Rose Bowl: Thursday's quotables

Many words are spoken at BCS bowl games. Many words are transcribed. And many words, while amusing or informative, don't get to you in stories.

Here are some highlights from the Rose Bowl press conferences on Thursday.

Oregon offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich on freshman center Hroniss Grasu: "He's been awesome, and even with him sitting here I'll say some good things about him. He's a great – I think the one thing that permeates our team is he's a great guy. He's a date-your-daughter type of guy. He's smart. He's tough. Not my daughter, but somebody else's daughter."

Helfrich on practice: "I thought we had probably our best practice in a long, long time [Wednesday], and that's a good sign. And we have a pretty mature team and a pretty intelligent team. We know that the game is on the 2nd and we need to amp it up in our normal way, up and down. But our tempo has been great"

Helfrich on the improvement of QB Darron Thomas: Darron's improved a ton. Certainly from two years ago. Darron's – don't tell him I said this – but he's never going to be Joe Montana 92 percent making every 100 percent perfect throw. But he will strive to do that every single time. That guy's a stud. He's one of the smartest quarterbacks I've ever been around, one of the toughest guys I've ever been around. He definitely doesn't get enough credit for what he's done with our offense lining up the younger guys and communicating with Hroniss and just running the show.

Helfrich on Oregon offensive lineman Mark Asper performing the Heimlich Maneuver on a choking man Wednesday night during the "beef bowl": "No question, he was probably doing the play-by-play in Spanish as he was saving a life with one hand and playing the piano with the other hand. Unbelievable, unbelievable but very believable at the same time."

Funny exchange here when Oregon RB LaMichael James was asked about his now-infamous picture riding Space Mountain at Disneyland.

James: Actually, it's Kenjon' [Barner's] fault. He thought it was funny. Actually, we both thought it was funny. It still is a funny deal.

We didn't really know that it was going to blow up like that. But it really did. The media, it does what it does, right?

O-lineman Carson York: I hope his face doesn't look like that when we're missing blocks.

Barner: It's like you said, it was all fun and games. Just creating memories. But neither one of us, or anyone that was in our small group for that matter, had any idea that it would go as far as it did.

You have such a rhythm-based offense, and I was wondering, if you feel there's an inherent disadvantage in having the kind of time off you have between the end of the season and the bowl game, and also the idea that people have that all that time gives other teams a chance to prepare more adequately for what you guys do?

Kenjon Barner: I think when you're playing in big games, you have so many timeouts, and I think that really messes it up, too. I think that is also a factor. I feel if we get the rhythm going on each drive, we'll be okay, instead of going three and out.

Carson York: I think the way we've gone through Bowl prep this year has been a little different. And should sort of help keep our rhythm, sort of kept going over the way we normally practice for a game each week and we get in this rhythm all season where you do the same thing every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, sort of repeat that pattern a couple of times.

And hopefully that will sort of keep our bodies and minds sort of at the task at hand. And I mean it's just sort of an annoying little fact that we struggled in Bowl games, or games at times to prepare, but I think we're ready to shake that one, too.

Could you talk about the BCS game. Fair or unfair, the question keeps getting asked of Chip until he wins one. Do you think he needs a game like this to validate his record?

Helfrich: Me personally? No, I don't. I think Chip is outstanding. Was Marv Levy a good football coach? I think he was a good football coach. Was Bud Grant a good football coach? Was Charles Barkley a good NBA player? Well, all those things.

Again, it's the pinnacle type deal, and do we want to win this game? Absolutely. Do we want to win this game for Coach Kelly? Maybe, but it's not to legitimize his career. It's because we believe in everything that he stands for, and we believe in our players in every way.

Gosh, I hope he's thought of as a good coach. We want to compete. We want to win, and they do too, I'm sure.