Oregon Ducks

Darron Thomas leaving AFL, teams up with Chris Miller in MLFB

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Darron Thomas leaving AFL, teams up with Chris Miller in MLFB

A pair of former Duck QBs have teamed up to take the Major League Football League by storm. 

Before getting into the meat of the article, let’s address the elephant in the room: Just what is the MLFB, exactly? 

Well, quite simply, it’s a spring league that is designed to fill the void in the professional sports landscape to complement other American sports leagues. It’s football for when you wish you could watch football during the spring months.

Wednesday, the MLFB announced Darron Thomas as one of the league eight franchise players. He’ll be coached by former Oregon QB Chris Miller, who currently serves as head coach of the West Linn Lions. 

"Being a part of MLFB from the ground floor is very exciting,” Miller told CSNNW.com. "I enjoy the challenge of building something new and helping make it successful.”

The announcement of Darron Thomas selection as a franchise player in the MLFB spells the end of Thomas’ run in the AFL. 

Originally signed by the Portland Thunder in 2013, Thomas became the cornerstone of the newly created AFL team’s marketing campaign. Thomas struggled at first, though found his stride last season as both a QB and receiver before he went down with a season ending lower leg injury.

On January 6, the AFL took over "ownership and operational control" of the Portland Thunder from owner Terry Emmert "to provide financial and operational support.” After a series of league takeovers and other franchise dissolutions, the AFL has contracted down to just eight teams, according to their official website.

The MLFB, meanwhile, has been building up for a while. While the details surrounding the franchise cities and the schedule still remains up in the air, the MLFB announced last month that it has reached the final stage of negotiations with 14 potential host cities and venues for their inaugural Spring 2016 football season.

Last year the MLFB targeted Eugene, Oregon and Autzen Stadium as a possible location for one of their teams to play.

“It’s something that’s going to happen, former NFL Pro Bowl WR Wes Chandler, President of Major League Football, told John Canzano on 750 The Game last year. "Of course we have to go in and negotiate the stadium lease but yeah we hope that being able to have a franchise there in Eugene is a great place for the simple fact there’s great football played in that region.”

The lease at Autzen Stadium is still in the process of being negotiated. 

Two weeks ago, the league announced a Two-Year Television contract with American Sports Network (“ASN”), a division of Sinclair Networks Group, which is owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group. The deal includes broadcasting all regular season and post season games in both 2016 and 2017.

Here are the eight coaches along with their franchise players:

1

Dave Campo

Joe Adams

WR

Arkansas

2

Charlie Collins

Chris Bonner

QB

CSU-Pueblo

3

Ted Cottrell

Taylor Belsterling

WR

Huntingdon

4

Robert Ford

Casey Pachall

QB

Texas Christian

5

Wayne Geis

Emmanuel Stephens

DE

Mississippi

6

Galen Hall

Stephen Garcia

QB

South Carolina

7

Larry Kirksey

Dan LeFevour

QB

Central Michigan

8

Chris Miller

Darron Thomas

QB

Oregon

Thomas, a Houston native, completed his career at Oregon with a 24-3 record, with two consecutive Pac-12 titles, and a win in the 2012 Rose Bowl and an appearance at the BCS National Championship Game. In two years as the Ducks full-time quarterback, Thomas threw for over 5,000 yards and 63 touchdowns. He opted for the NFL Draft, though went undrafted. Since then, Thomas has played in the CFL, CPI and the AFL and even participated in the NFL’s first ever Veterans’ Combine. The MLFB will be his next challenge. 

His coach, Chris Miller, is a two-time first-team All-Pac-10 quarterback from the University of Oregon and drafted 13th overall by the Atlanta Falcons in 1987. He played ten seasons in the NFL before he began coaching. Coaching both at South Eugene High School (twice) and West Linn High School, where he currently coaches, Miller also spent four seasons as the quarterbacks coach of the Arizona Cardinals. In 2005, Miller was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame.  

"Darron Thomas seems like a fine young man,” Miller wrote via text message to CSN. "He had a terrific college career. Now I want to see if I can him translate it to professional football...I'm excited to reunite with a former Duck great!"

 

UPDATE: 


Chris Miller selected former Ducks Mark Asper (OL) in the second round of the MLFB Draft, as well as wide receiver Rahsaan Vaughn in the 3rd round. 

Other locals: Beavers WR Micah Hatfield was selected in the 10th round and Vikings receiver Casey Kloss was taken in the 11th round, all by Miller. 

Two games left, what are Oregon's possible bowl game destinations?

Two games left, what are Oregon's possible bowl game destinations?

The Oregon Ducks became bowl eligible last Saturday after earning their sixth win of the season against UCLA. After losing at Utah, the Ducks have two games left and their list of potential bowl games is narrowing. 

Oregon’s Pac-12 conference title hopes, and thus its Rose Bowl chances have wilted away. However, the conference has tie ins to plenty of other great bowl games. 

In the Pac-12 rankings, Oregon sits tied for fourth in the North Division with Cal, behind No. 8 Washington State, No. 18 Washington and Stanford. Seven Pac-12 teams are currently bowl eligible; Washington State (9-1, 5-1 Pac-12), Washington (7-3, 5-2), Stanford (6-4, 4-3), Cal (6-4, 3-4), Utah (7-3, 5-3), Arizona State (6-4,4-3) and Oregon (6-4, 3-4). 

It might be a little early to book your travel (especially considering the madness of the conference) but my prediction is that Oregon will end up as the conference’s No. 6 option and be in the Las Vegas Bowl on December 15th. 

The Ducks' remaining games are versus Arizona State and at Oregon State.

Around the nation, Athlon Sports and USA Today predict Oregon in the Sun Bowl vs. Pittsburgh and Boston College, respectfully. CBS has the Ducks in the Redbox Bowl and ESPN says the Ducks are headed to the Cheeze-It Bowl

Here is a quick look at Oregon’s likelihood for each Bowl game the Pac-12 has affiliations with:

Rose Bowl vs. Big Ten, Jan. 1, 2019, Pasadena, Calif.

Impossible. The Pac-12 champion goes to the Rose Bowl if not selected in the College Football Playoff. Oregon is not in the race to win the conference title.

Alamo Bowl vs. Big 12 #2, Dec. 28, 2018, San Antonio, Texas

Impossible. Oregon's loss at Utah means the Ducks cannot finish second in the conference.

Holiday Bowl vs. Big Ten; Dec. 31, 2018, San Diego, Calif.

Highly unlikely. Here’s how it could happen:

  • Washington loses both its remaining games to Oregon State and Washington State. 
  • Whoever finishes second in the south division has five or more losses
  • Oregon wins its final two games

Redbox Bowl vs. Big Ten; Dec. 31, 2018, Santa Clara, Calif.

Possible. Here’s how it could happen:

  • Oregon wins its final two games and ends up ranked 4th in the conference

Sun Bowl vs. ACC; Dec. 31, 2018, El Paso, Tex.

Possible. Here’s how it could happen:

  • Oregon wins its final two games and ends up ranked 5th in the conference

Las Vegas Bowl vs. Mountain West, Dec. 15, 2018, Las Vegas, Nev.

Probable. Here’s how it could happen:

  • To end up as the conference’s No. 6 option, Oregon would likely need to win one of its final two games. 

Cheez-It Bowl vs. Big 12 #6, Dec. 26, 2018, Phoenix, Ariz.

Probable. Here’s how it could happen:

  • To end up as the conference’s No. 7 option, Oregon would likely need to win one of its final two games. 

The Ducks could also end up an at-large bid, if the conference has more than seven bowl eligible (six or more wins) teams or if they lose all two remaining games.

Ed Dickson: Once a Duck, always a Duck.

Ed Dickson: Once a Duck, always a Duck.

If you could name one piece to Ed Dickson’s game that made him the great tight end that he is, what would it be? His size at 6’ 4”, 255 pounds? His breakaway speed timed at a 4.59 40-yard dash? Or how about his sure-handed catches all over the field, making linebackers and secondaries look silly?

Whatever you may think, Dickson encompasses all these traits making him a deadly matchup on any piece of gridiron. He proved this at the college level with the Oregon Ducks (2006-2009) and then onward to the NFL.

Dickson was drafted in round three, pick No. 74 of the 2010 NFL draft by the Baltimore Ravens. After a season in Baltimore, then two seasons with the Carolina Panthers, Dickson now resides in Seattle catching lasers from quarterback Russell Wilson in front of the 12’s. 

Let’s rewind the clock to a game that most likely put Dickson on the map with NFL scouts watching closely at the blur that was #83 in green and yellow. With the then No. 6 ranked California Golden Bears in town vs. the unranked Oregon Ducks, Dickson recorded 11 catches for 148 yards and three touchdowns in the Ducks’ 42-3 upset win over the Bears. 

Or perhaps it was his touchdown grab from QB Jeremiah Masoli with :05 left on the clock in Arizona to force the game into overtime and an eventual Oregon victory? Ok, there may be more moments in his college career that put Dickson on the map, but Dickson is still turning heads today in the NFL. 

We got to catch up with Dickson following the Seahawks’ 27-24 win over the Green Bay Packers last Thursday Night, Dickson grabbing the winning 15-yard touchdown from Russell Wilson.

“I got a lot of respect for the coach and the direction that he is going,” says Dickson of head coach Mario Cristobal and the current Oregon Ducks culture. 

The Ducks are currently sitting on a 6-4, 3-4 Pac-12 conference record with just two conference games left: at home vs. Arizona State this Saturday and then the Civil War in Corvallis, OR Thanksgiving weekend. 

Dickson remembers what it is like to play in Autzen Stadium and in front of thousands of screaming Ducks fans. “I’ve played in Baton Rouge before, I’ve been to some of these bigger stadiums, Autzen Stadium is No. 1 in college football to me.” 

Some advice for the Ducks with just two games and one bowl game left? “Finish hard. Finish hard. We got a lot of pride and a lot of people watching. Proud of them for what they’ve done this season and don’t hang their heads for anything. Finish hard and try to get two more victories, and then go into the offseason with the mentality that you guys are going to be better than you were this year.”

Trail Blazer defense wasn't good enough to erase THAT offensive show

Trail Blazer defense wasn't good enough to erase THAT offensive show

MINNEAPOLIS – Defense has been a proud possession of the Portland Trail Blazers in this early part of the season.

But it wasn’t good enough Friday night to make up for a woeful offensive performance by the Trail Blazers that resulted in a wire-to-wire 112-96 Timberwolves’ win over Portland.

The Blazers’ starting lineup went 3-18 from three-point range. The team total was just 8-29. Put that together with 18 turnovers that resulted in 22 points.

This game was decided in the first half, when Portland had 13 of those turnovers for 18 points and allowed eight offensive rebounds.

That set a tone – and a 12-point deficit – that was impossible to overcome in the final two quarters.

“The first half was frustrating because of our turnovers and the offensive rebounds,” Portland Coach Terry Stotts said. “We gave them too many opportunities. We dug the hole in the first half because of that.”

Al-Farouq Aminu, who did an outstanding defensive job on Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns, offered some wisdom on the evening’s outcome.

“In these types of games we have to do better defensively,” he said. “I don’t want to be the kind of team just relying on our offense. We have to take it to another level on defense when we have trouble on offense.

“We have to make it a defensive battle. We have to play defensive games as well as offensive games.”

Well said.

Minnesota shot 50 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from three-point range.

“We allowed them to have second or third opportunities,” Damian Lillard said.  “Our offense wasn’t going for us. You can’t hurt yourself by giving them extra opportunities but that’s what we did. The offensive rebounds and we turned the ball over.”

Lillard, who is still playing with a right knee that isn’t 100 percent, made only 1 for 7 from three-point range. Very often, players suffering from knee troubles have a problem with outside shooting, because getting adequate lift on their shot from deep is difficult off sore knees.

But Lillard wouldn’t even consider using that as an excuse.

“I am not going there,” he said sternly. “When I was shooting, it felt fine.”

Evan Turner, who went scoreless in 21 minutes, was asked to sum up the game.

“It was tough,” he said. “We didn’t get our pop going. They scored a lot on the second opportunities. Stuff just wasn’t going our way. They went on a great run and played a great game tonight.

“I don’t think it will be something that will stay like that. We’ll get back to getting stops and getting into transition. It will be all good.”

And the next chance to make it all good will be Sunday in Washington against the Wizards.

OUTSIDERS PODCAST: The power of Prince was just too much to overcome

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USA TODAY

OUTSIDERS PODCAST: The power of Prince was just too much to overcome

The Blazers dropped a tough one to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday. What went right and what went wrong? The Blazers Outsiders Joe, Danny, and Shain break it all down on this episode of the Outsiders Podcast. 

The Fearless Rookie: Anfernee Simons stays ready just like his coach and teammates knew he would

The Fearless Rookie: Anfernee Simons stays ready just like his coach and teammates knew he would

The Portland Trail Blazers ran into a Minnesota Timberwolves team who is starting to get things figured out after trading away a disgruntled Jimmy Butler for Robert Covington and Dario Saric from Philly.

With the Timberwolves taking down the Blazers 114-96 on Friday night, Minnesota has now won three straight since the trade.

It was a different looking Blazers' rotation in Minnesota for Portland with backup guard Seth Curry (right knee) out after suffering a knee injury in the Blazers loss to the Lakers on Thursday night.

Enter rookie Anfernee Simons.    

With Curry out, the Blazers rookie gave everyone a glimpse of what the future may look like with an aggressive Simons.

[RELATED]: MRI confirms Seth Curry has a right patellar bone bruise

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts went with the rookie over Wade Baldwin or anyone else on the bench because Simons has proved to his coach, he deserves to be out there when opportunity comes.

“I thought he was the best option. You know, I thought he’s played well. I like the idea that he runs, he shoots. I think he earned the spot. I thought he was a good compliment to Nik and Evan,” Stotts said. 

Simons entered the game at the start of the second quarter for Al-Farouq Aminu and he made his presence known early. After missing his first two shots, Simons didn't shut down, but instead, went on the attack and made a driving layup.

“I just try to be aggressive. They obviously appreciate me being aggressive. So I wanted to come in there and obviously try and not do too much, but you know, once the opportunity is there you take the shot and just live with the results,” Simons said. 

Simons finished with seven points after going 3-of-7 from the field. This was his first shot at non-garbage time minutes. He played eight minutes in the first half and ended the game with 13 minutes of action.  

“Since coach has been talking to me the past couple of days or something, I just stayed ready and make sure I knew all the plays. I think I did pretty well. Frist time coming in there, actually getting, playing in the mix of it. I think I played pretty well, played good defense,” Simons said.

But changing up the Blazers rotation can throw a wrench in things. Coach Stotts decided to play Damian Lillard longer minutes in the second half instead of going back to Simons. Lillard played 37 minutes and scored 16 points. It was CJ McCollum who led the way in scoring with 18 points.

“Not having Seth kind of changed the rotation a little bit. I thought Anfernee did a nice job in the first half, but I think the dye was kind of cast in the first quarter, it was just the offensive rebounds and the turnovers that kind of set the tone,” Stotts said.

But there’s no arguing that this is a playmaking 6’4 wing who showed on Friday night he has no fear and he’s teammates recognize just that.

“I thought he went out there, he was aggressive, he was fearless, he knew what was going on so I thought he did a great job,” Lillard said.

For Simons, he made sure to hammer home the fact that he is staying ready at all times.

“Knowing the personnel and making sure you gotta be ready at all times. Even though you might not be playing, you got know everybody’s tendencies, each play and each points just to try and help the team win in someway even when you’re on the bench,” Simons said.

And his teammates are always making sure he knows that, even though he’s a rookie, he has the green light.

“They tell me all the time-- be aggressive. They see in practice that I’m able to score the ball well and I try to show that each time I’m out on the court,” Simons said.

When you don’t know when you’ll see the floor next, it’s all about the preparation leading up to your opportunity and Lillard has come to realize that his 19-year-old teammate is committed to being ready.

“Some nights when I got back to shoot after practice and I go back at eight o’clock, seven, eight o’clock sometimes and he’ll be there shooting, so, you know that he’s preparing himself for moments like tonight where he gets thrown out there when the game really matters instead of either we getting blown out or blowing somebody out and he’s getting the last three minutes,” Lillard said.

There’s no timetable yet on Curry’s return. He did say he hopes to be back by the end of the road trip, but there’s one thing everyone knows now if they didn’t already, the kid from IMG Academy is waiting in the wings if Coach Stotts calls his name.

And everyone is Rip City realizes that having Lillard to look up to and learn from, not to mention having Lillard be confident in you, makes getting out and being aggressive in meaningful minutes that much easier for a rookie. 

Rapid Reaction: 3 Quick Takeaways from the Blazers loss to the T'Wolves

Rapid Reaction: 3 Quick Takeaways from the Blazers loss to the T'Wolves

The Blazers struggled from start to finish in Minnesota, falling to 0-2 on this six-game road trip. Here are some quick thoughts from our reporters on the scene...

Final Box Score: Timberwolves 112 - Blazers 96

Dwight Jaynes, Trail Blazers' Insider:  First time under 100... bad offensive night. Tough for them when Lillard has an off night

Jamie Hudson, Trail Blazers' Reporter: It’s difficult to get wins when you commit 18 turnovers in a game and shoot 27.6% from three. You got to give some credit to the Timberwolves defense, but they were also able to capitalize on the TOs, scoring 22 points off turnovers.

Peter Socotch, Producer on the road:  When you commit 18 turnovers and shoot 26% from three, you’re going to have a bad time. The Blazers never led on a night where the Timberwolves honored Prince with slick purple jerseys and music from His Royal Badness. Yes, the jerseys looked as cool in person as on TV. The Blazers just couldn’t hold onto the basketball. That mixed with a reinvigorated Timberwolves team, the Blazers never stood a chance.

***Be sure to check back here throughout tonight for locker room videos with Coach Stotts and the players, plus locker room reports from Jamie Hudson and Dwight Jaynes***

NEXT UP: The Blazers head to the nation's capital to take on the Wizards on Sunday. Tip-off is set for 3:00pm with coverage beginning at 2:00pm on NBC Sports Northwest.

Coach Thibodeau on preparing for Blazers: You can’t overlook their bigs

Coach Thibodeau on preparing for Blazers: You can’t overlook their bigs

Before the Trail Blazers take on the Minnesota Timberwolves tonight in Portland’s second contest of this current six-game road trip, both Blazers head coach Terry Stotts and Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau addressed the media.

It will be the Blazers first time against a Minnesota team that now includes Robert Covington and Dario Saric after a trade with the Sixers.

“From a preparation standpoint we know what those two like to do. We have a scouting report on them and we’ll probably rely on that,” Coach Stotts said.

As for the loss to the Lakers, Coach Stotts went back and watched the game film and there was a lot he liked about what his team did in Los Angeles. “To be honest I thought the Lakers played really well… You have to give credit to them that they played really well,” Stotts added.

The Blazers could extend Jake Layman’s minutes with Seth Curry (right knee) OUT tonight, but Coach Stotts said he’s going to wait and see how the game plays out before making that decision.

The latest injury news for Timberwolves is that Derrick Rose (left knee) will play tonight vs. the Blazers. Rose was previously listed as QUESTIONABLE.

Minnesota has such a deep bench that Coach Thibodeau is having trouble decided who plays and who doesn’t, “but everyone has to stay ready… We have quality depth,” Coach Thibs said.

When talking about this matchup against the Blazers:

“The pressure that Lillard and McCollum put on you-- they’re shooting ability and they’re ability to make plays of the dribble, but you can’t overlook how big their bigs are-- they dominated us on the boards… We also have to get back to bodies to rebound. The rebounding component is huge for us,” Thibodeau said.

Tonight it’s a night to pay tribute to Prince at the Target Center.  Minnesota will debut a purple-highlighted uniform. The “City Edition” uniforms were created in collaboration between the Timberwolves, Nike and the Prince estate.

“Our players are really excited about the uniforms and the night and it’s a great way to honor Prince,” Thibodeau said.

Coach Stotts also said he was a big Prince fan.

Prince music will also be played all night long with the debut of the uniforms.

 

Coach Stotts

 

 

Coach Thibodeau

 

You can also check out the Blazers Outsiders Pregame Show RIGHT HERE.

Passionate halftime speech sparks Seahawks' defense

Passionate halftime speech sparks Seahawks' defense

SEATTLE - Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers sliced and diced the Seattle defense for 30 minutes Thursday night at CenturyLink Field.

He rolled to find targets short and deep. He checked down. He threw darts. He hit his targets. The Seahawks were at his mercy down 21-17 at halftime with Rodgers sitting at 214 passing yards with two touchdowns. 

Seahawks defensive line coach Clint Hurtt had seen enough. He entered the team locker room at halftime and according to safety Bradley McDougald, issued a "passionate speech," essentially encouraging the team to play up to its capabilities rather than be a doormat to an opposing quarterback. 

"It was something that we needed to hear," McDougald said. "He lit a fire under us. He woke us up a little bit. We were out there and we weren't playing like ourselves. We were giving up plays that we should't have."

Seattle's defense responded by completely reversing the tide of the game. Tighter coverage took away targets and greater pressure put Rodgers on the ground. He passed for just 118 yards in the second half and Seattle sacked him four times compared to just once in the first half. The Packers scored all of three points in the final two quarters and that opened the door for Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson and the offense to drive 75 yards and score the go-ahead touchdown with 5:08 remaining. 

[RELATED: Russell Wilson finally comes up big, keeps Seahawks relevant]

Usually, that's about far too much time to leave on the clock for Rodgers. But not on this night. Seattle's defense held. The offense ran out the clock and the Seahawks (5-5) remained firmly in the playoff hunt while Green Bay (4-5-1) left still having not won a road game this season. 

Seattle cornerback Shaquill Griffin said that the defense made no dramatic scheme adjustments in the second half. The group simply executed the original plan and that included being diligent in coverage. 

"We held our ground," Griffin said of the secondary. "We knew he could extend plays so we had to cover a lot longer than we usually do. But we were prepared for that. It was cool to see everyone make plays the way that we did. We work for each other."

Defensive end Frank Clark had two sacks. Rookie defensive ends Rasheem Green and Jacob Martin each had full sacks. 

"We were able to apply a lot of pressure," middle linebacker Bobby Wagner said. "We kind of got in (Rodgers') face and affected his throws."

Rodgers exited the night frustrated, blaming Green Bay for the its play. When asked what Seattle did to disrupt the Packers' offense in the second half he responded: "No disrespect, but not much. We beat ourselves in the second half. They brought a little more pressure, but I don't think that there was anything special that they did."

That extra pressure proved to be the difference in disrupting Rodgers and altering the game.

"That dude is electric," Martin said of Rodgers. "That's an awesome quarterback right there. He's electric. It doesn't matter if he's in the pocket or out of the pocket, he can sling it from anywhere. That was the biggest thing we've got to get home."

Seattle coach Pete Carroll, known as a defensive backs guru, expressed his displeasure in the play of the secondary during the first half. He appreciated the effort of the entire defense in the second half. 

"We had to turn it around," Carroll said. "We were off. We were not getting stops that we needed early on. I was upset about that. Guys rallied, though."

In the team's 25-17 home loss to the Los Angeles Chargers two weeks ago, Seattle succumbed to the passing of Philip Rivers in the first half only to hold the Chargers' offense scoreless in the second half. However, in that game Wilson failed to make the right plays in the fourth quarter to pull out the win. 

This time around he got it done. During his post-game press conference, he shifted gears during an answer about him and the offense in order to acknowledge the play of the defense. 

"I thought our defense was lights out in the second half," he said. 

Because it was, Seattle remains in position to make a playoff push. 

Uniform update for Oregon's home finale

Uniform update for Oregon's home finale

Saturday will be an after dark special; Oregon vs. Arizona State at 7:30 p.m.

The Ducks will be in black and green for their last game in Autzen Stadium in 2018; a glowing sendoff for the 10 seniors to be honored. Fans are encouraged to wear green. 

In UO’s home finale, Oregon (6-4, 3-4 Pac-12) could spoil Arizona State’s three-game winning streak and Pac-12 South title dreams. A victory would match the Ducks’ win total (6) from 2017.

GET READY FOR THE GAME:

Two games left, what are Oregon's possible bowl game destinations?

On senior day, the Ducks are counting on a true freshman; Travis Dye

How Oregon can win its home finale

Cristobal “formidable” in hypothetical Pac-12 coaches brawl, according to Leach

Streaks and stats you need to know: Oregon vs. ASU