Dylan Mickanen

USC keeping Helton is the best news the Ducks could hear

USC keeping Helton is the best news the Ducks could hear

Days after Chris Petersen resigned from coaching the Washington Huskies, the good news just keeps coming for Ducks fans.

After a season of what felt like a dead man coaching, USC AD Mike Bohn said Wednesday that head coach Clay Helton will be retained. 

USC ended the regular season ranked No. 22 in the College Football Playoff Rankings, going 8-4, including a win over No. 5 Utah. That sounds like a successful season, but there’s much more to the situation that caused many Trojan fans to desire Helton’s firing. 

USC is arguably the only blue blood football program in the Pac-12. They are located in the middle of Los Angeles, which creates some of the most elite high school football talent in America. The top two high school football teams in the nation are located near Los Angeles. Many of those elite kids grow up dreaming of playing in LA Coliseum. USC recruits itself and always is among the most talented teams in the nation.  

Despite all of that, USC has the 67th ranked recruiting class in the country eleven days before the early signing period. Helton has the program in such bad shape that local recruits are continuing to look elsewhere.

If USC’s brand perception continues to tank, then the rank of being the best brand in the conference can be Oregon’s for the taking. The elite recruits choosing their schools today do not remember the Pete Caroll era that included teams with Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush. They grew up watching Chip Kelly and the Oregon Ducks torching USC en route to winning BCS Bowls and revolutionizing college football. They were trend-setters with their uniforms, while USC was caught up in their past traditions. Now, the Ducks have Mario Cristobal at the helm, one of the best recruiters in the country. 

Also, Oregon has already gone into Los Angeles and received commitments from kids targeted by USC, as well. Linebacker Mase Funa and wide receiver Michael Pittman come to mind immediately. The LA to Eugene pipeline began when De'Anthony Thomas shocked the world by committing to the Ducks. Recruits today remember that decision. Cristobal has only solidified that pipeline and if USC continues to look unappealing, then the Ducks should only amass more talent. 

Don't forget these kids watched the Ducks demolish USC in Los Angeles earlier this season, 56-24.

Currently, the Ducks have the 11th ranked recruiting class according to 247 Sports and still have a few more spots open for big time recruits to commit closer to signing day.

Melo doesn't care about your Player of the Week criticism

Melo doesn't care about your Player of the Week criticism

From out of the league to Western Conference Player of the Week. Two weeks after joining the Portland Trail Blazers, Carmelo Anthony was awarded that honor, his first conference player of the week accolade since 2014. 

But, not everyone was a fan of the heartwarming comeback because many felt that Houston’s James Harden and Dallas’ Luka Doncic were both snubbed for the award. Among those was Shannon Sharpe, who thought Harden especially was snubbed after scoring 60 points in 31 minutes


But, Melo spoke to Yahoo Sports about how he doesn’t care about the talk. 

I’ve seen the chatter, but I won’t allow myself to pay attention to that because I’ve come too far to start listening to that bull----, to be honest with you. I won’t allow that negativity to creep in. I’ve worked so hard to get to that point mentally and emotionally. I won’t even let it happen.

Heading into the week, the Blazers had lost four games in a row. Then Anthony led Portland averaging 22.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 57.4 percent from the field and 45.5 percent from behind the arc. The team also went 3-0.

Melo also talked about winning the award over Harden and Doncic. 

I’m very honored to have won the award, It just speaks to the hard work I put in to stay ready for this moment. I have nothing but respect for [Harden and Doncic]. I didn’t make the decision, but I’m grateful that I won the award.

The Trail Blazers are back in action Wednesday night vs. the Sacramento Kings. 

With Hodgins going pro, will Hamilcar Rashed, Jr. follow suit?

With Hodgins going pro, will Hamilcar Rashed, Jr. follow suit?

With WR Isaiah Hodgins declaring for the 2020 NFL Draft, all eyes are on redshirt junior Hamilcar Rashed Jr. to see if he’ll follow suit. 

The outside linebacker had not just a breakout season, but the greatest single season for a defensive player in the front seven in school history, setting the single-season records for sacks (14) and tackles-for-loss (22.5). These numbers could have been even higher too if he didn’t need to play with a cast on his hand for the final two games of the season. 

Pro Football Network draft analyst Tony Pauline stated earlier this season that Rashed Jr. has greatly improved his draft stock this season.

His sacks are as much a result of opportunity as they are big plays, but Rashed continues to impact games. He needs to fill out his frame and keep his quickness, but Rashed has top 100 potential when he enters the draft.

It’s unclear whether Rashed, Jr. will decide to forgo his last season of eligibility to declare for the NFL Draft, but don’t be surprised to see him go pro. If he can get advice that he’ll be a selection on Day 2 of the NFL Draft, then he’s one decision away from life changing money. 

But he also may want to come back to help the Beavers make a bowl game and increase his draft stock by filling out his frame in college and matching his production this season. Either way, he should announce sooner than later.

You can listen to Nigel Burton discuss Rashed Jr.'s decision and more in week's Talkin' Beavers podcast. 

 

 

Tampa Bay/Montreal deal stalled... what it could mean for MLB to Portland

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USATI

Tampa Bay/Montreal deal stalled... what it could mean for MLB to Portland

On Wednesday, it was revealed that negotiations stalled to split the Tampa Bay Rays home games between Tampa Bay and Montreal. Now, the organization has decided to honor their agreement with Tropicana Field and remain in Florida until 2027, announced in a letter from St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman addressed to City Council.

However, once the agreement ends the Rays will most likely be moving away from the area and playing in a different market. Evidenced by the organization declining Kriseman’s offer to extend their deal beyond 2027. Last season, despite making the postseason, the Tampa Bay Rays were second to last in Major League Baseball in average attendance.

This could be positive news for supporters of the Portland Diamond Project, an organization dedicated to bringing Major League Baseball to Portland. With the Rays’ decision, it appears a MLB franchise will be looking to relocate and Portland may be able to host the team. 

Back in November 2018, the Diamond Project announced an agreement with the Port of Portland to develop Terminal 2 property as an eventual site for the stadium. 

Investors for the property include Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, Nike, and more. Also, the petition to bring Major League Baseball to Portland has reached over 44,000 signatures.

Wouldn't it be cool to see something like this happening in Portland? 


One can only hope. 

Isaiah Hodgins declares for the 2020 NFL Draft

Isaiah Hodgins declares for the 2020 NFL Draft

After a spectacular junior season at Oregon State, Isaiah Hodgins has declared for the 2020 NFL Draft, foregoing his senior season as a Beaver. The wide receiver announced the decision on his Twitter Tuesday evening. 


This past year, Hodgins ended the season as a semifinalist for the Biletnikoff Award, which is given to the nation's most prolific receiver.

The junior finished with 86 receptions for 1,171 yards and 13 touchdowns. Those single season numbers rank 5th, 9th and 2nd in school history, respectively. 

When asked earlier this season if he'd thought about declaring for the NFL Draft, he stated his focus was on the season and making a bowl game. That looking ahead to the pros causes players' play to slip. The Beavers ended up finishing one win short of bowl eligibility. 

While there was hope he'd return for his senior season, most expected him to go to the NFL given how productive he was this season. Even when he was being recruited by Oregon State, their reputation of creating NFL receivers such as Brandin Cooks was what sold him on coming here. This has always been his ultimate goal.

The Beavers will have plenty of targets open up next year as Hodgins plays on Sunday's. 

Hodgins is a projected third or fourth round draft pick according to some, but after further evaluation and time to prepare for April's Draft, Hodgins' stock could skyrocket even as far as the first round. 

 

Will Chris Petersen coach again? The door isn't shut, but not right away

Will Chris Petersen coach again? The door isn't shut, but not right away

On Monday morning, then-Washington Huskies head coach Chris Petersen shocked the college football world by resigning as head coach following their bowl game next month. 

Defensive Coordinator Jimmy Lake was named as his successor. Immediately following the announcement, speculation ran rampant of what Petersen would do next. Was he USC-bound? What about the NFL? Would he be the next head coach of the Dallas Cowboys?

Official word is that Petersen will transition into an advisory role with the Huskies, at least, in the immediate future. 

At his press conference today, Petersen discussed if he’s done coaching when asked. 

I’m not falling into that trick question...my whole plan is to get rested, to get recharged, and get redirected. Like the one thing I know is that I’m not ready to do nothing. I just gotta figure out where all this energy and this passion and inspiration goes. I don’t want it to be on the football field.

It sounds like Petersen doesn’t want to return to coaching football anytime soon. He's burned out, which is understandable considering how heavy and constant the workload is when running a program the size of Washington's. That position demands around the clock work hours between recruiting, game-planning, running practice, watching film, and oh, the actual games themselves.

Petersen said he likes being around people who strive for excellence, he loves people who are great at their jobs.  

The now former Huskies head coach becomes another in a recent trend of major programs having their coaches step down during their 50s. Other recent examples include Bob Stoops at Oklahoma (56) and Urban Meyer at Ohio State (54). In both cases, one of the coordinators was promoted in their place. And in both cases, they eventually returned to coaching.  

New Huskies coach Jimmy Lake wants an 'aggressive' program

New Huskies coach Jimmy Lake wants an 'aggressive' program

On Monday morning, Chris Petersen shocked college football by resigning as head coach of the Washington Huskies after six seasons in Seattle. His replacement is former defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake, who according to The Athletic's Bruce Feldman, has turned down multiple offers waiting for this opportunity. 

At his introductory press conference, Lake said he will follow a similar formula as how Petersen ran the program, but he had the following to say about what he’ll do differently as head coach of the Huskies.

We’re going to have a different style on offense. We’re going to have a different style on our special teams. We’re going to be aggressive. We’re going to attack, and this place is ready to roll.

Earlier in the press conference, he highlighted his love for X’s and O’s and football strategy will also separate his program from Petersen’s.  

Also, recruiting for the Huskies should increase as Lake, who has been the Huskies ace recruiter for years, will now be running the entire show. He’ll be able to be more aggressive in recruiting than when Petersen was at the helm.

Looking for proof of that? Not a single Huskies commit has decommitted more than 24 hours after the shocking head coaching change announcement, which is nearly unheard of whenever in a situation like this one. For example, when Willie Taggart abruptly left Eugene a handful of the Ducks’ commits immediately decommitted. To not have any recruiting collateral damage is quite impressive.  

It’s unclear how Lake will handle running an entire program since this will be his first head coaching gig; however, he’s set up as well as anyone could hope.

JUCO safety Johnathan Riley commits to Oregon State

JUCO safety Johnathan Riley commits to Oregon State

Jonathan Smith just landed another big recruit at Oregon State. 

JUCO safety Johnathan Riley committed to the Beavers this weekend after Coach Smith flew to Waldorf, Maryland for an in-home visit. Riley previously visited Oregon State for the Washington game on Nov. 8 and fell in love with Corvallis.

The 6-foot-3, 196 pound safety will look to make an immediate impact in the Beaver secondary.

Riley says he chose Oregon State over offers from UMass, Cincinnati and New Mexico State because he saw it as the perfect place to focus on football. 

"Even from an early age I was obsessed with perfecting my craft and for that I am grateful," Riley said. "Proud to announce I will be attending Oregon State for the next three years." 

You can watch his HUDL highlights here to get a taste of what Riley can bring.

A glimpse into the future: Gebbia forced to start against the Ducks

A glimpse into the future: Gebbia forced to start against the Ducks

Jake Luton had a banner season and looked to close his career with a program-defining win in the 123rd Civil War. Except, he “couldn’t throw at all this week” so he needed to sit out.

Luton’s absence allowed Beaver fans to get a glimpse into their future starting quarterback, Tristan Gebbia. The redshirt sophomore was the No. 6 Pro-Style passer coming out of high school and committed to Nebraska. He then redshirted his first year and transferred to Corvallis. Due to NCAA transfer regulations, he needed to sit out his entire redshirt freshman season.

Now in the final game of his sophomore season, Gebbia was thrust into the spotlight. Beat their rival, the Oregon Ducks, and the Beavers are going bowling for the first time since 2013.

Despite a valiant effort, Gebbia, who finished 26/40 for 243 yards, and the Beavers, fell short 24-10 to the 14th ranked Ducks. After the game, Gebbia spoke about the disappointing result. 

The goal is to win...that’s what you want, so if you fall short of that it doesn’t matter [what your stats are]...the win is what’s important. In my first start, I didn’t do enough for us to win.

Gebbia’s comments show his leadership, a quality highlighted by Isaiah Hodgins in his postgame interview. Hodgins also said that later on in the game Gebbia learned to throw it to him even when he doesn’t appear open which sparked the offense in the fourth quarter. In fact, a few of his off-target passes were probably due to a lack of chemistry with the starting receivers. Gebbia never seemed in over his head during the game, though, and he’ll only get better with more reps this off-season.

Gebbia, the presumed starter going into next season, is already looking ahead to greater things.

Our coaching staff is going to have a great off-season too, and we’re going to be doing just fine next year.

Despite bittersweet ending, Beaver fans should be optimistic

Despite bittersweet ending, Beaver fans should be optimistic

The ending of the season has to sting, but it shouldn’t sting for long.

Yes, the Beavers did not qualify for a bowl game continuing a six-year bowl drought despite needing just one more victory in the final two games. But, think back to your expectations for the year, did you really expect to be in this position?

OSU was considered one of the worst teams in Division I football by some, but had the ball down just a touchdown with 2:22 left in the fourth quarter in Autzen Stadium needing one more win to be bowl eligible. If you had told any Beavers fan this situation at the beginning of the season, or even after losing at Hawai’i, any rational fan would have been thrilled. 

Head coach Jonathan Smith has exceeded every expectation for the program so far. Just two years removed from a 1-11 season (with their lone win being a nailbiter over Portland State), to being one more goalline stop in Pullman and a touchdown tying drive away from going bowling..?

The Beavers’ win total over/under was 2.5, and they nearly doubled that. They earned five wins despite losing very winnable games against Hawai’i, Stanford, and Washington State.  This Beavers team could have easily been 8-4. 

Smith, and offensive coordinator Brian Lungren, installed an offense that put their best players in positions to succeed. Senior quarterback Jake Luton had easily his best career season being among the nation’s leaders in touchdown to interception ratio, as did senior running back Artavis Pierce and junior wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins. Hodgins even got named a semifinalist for the Biletnikoff Award: An award given to the nation’s most prolific wide receiver. 

The defense also showed immense improvement highlighted by Hamilcar Rashed, Jr., who entered the Civil War leading the conference in sacks and tackles-for-loss. The same defense that got lit up by Hawai’i held the Ducks 21st ranked offense to just 10 points heading into the fourth quarter. The same defense balled out against Washington keeping them in the game as long as possible. Those two teams were widely expected to dominate the Pac-12 North, according to the preseason media poll, and the Beavers hung with both of them. 

Smith has the players believing in themselves and they’re playing like they belong on the field with whoever they face. Before running onto the field for the Civil War, the Beavers chanted “We all we got! We all we need!” Then they stepped onto a field where the home never lost this season, and gave the 14th ranked team in the country a scare with their backup quarterback, Tristan Gebbia. 

That back-up quarterback? He looked good, too. And he’ll be back next season as the presumed starter with an entire offseason under his belt, gaining chemistry with his receivers and becoming more knowledgeable of the playbook.

Hodgins and Rashed, Jr. may also return, hungry to finally play in a bowl game. If they do return, a bowl game should be the expectation going into next season. With Smith’s rehaul of the Beavers’ culture, I think it’d even be likely. 

As the team hangs around for more games, they’ll gain the experience needed to close out games. They did just that this season against Arizona State converting a fourth and short to ice the game.

There's a lot to be optimisitc about if you're a Beaver fan.