Juwan Johnson

How Brenden Schooler and Mycah Pittman's return boosts Oregon's passing attack

How Brenden Schooler and Mycah Pittman's return boosts Oregon's passing attack

Senior Brenden Schooler and freshman Mycah Pittman will take the field for the first time this season in No 13. Oregon’s game against California (4-1, 1-1 Pac-12) this Saturday night (5 p.m., FOX).

“Both Brenden and Mycah have been cleared, they have practiced all week, and they will play,” Oregon Coach Mario Cristobal told reporters after practice Wednesday morning. “They looked real good today. ... They look like they are back to normal. We will practice again the next couple days and figure out a rotation, but you can expect them to play.”

Cristobal also added that senior grad transfer Juwan Johnson is “still progressing.” Johnson has yet to play due to a calf injury.

Schooler returns after rehabbing a foot injury sustained in fall camp. He is listed as a co-starter alongside Bryan Addison. His impact will be felt on the offense, special teams, and the intangibles through his veteran leadership.

Pittman will make his highly anticipated collegiate debut after rehabbing a shoulder injury sustained in fall camp. Before the injury, he was turning heads and splitting first team reps at slot receiver. Pittman has strong hands, a running back body, and excels at getting separation

“He’s got that swagger, he knows who he is, his potential, but he can ball too,” Oregon safety Jevon Holland said. “He’s resilient and he’s got fire in his belly. He’s got a lot of what we need in the receiver position and on the team, period. Especially from a young guy to push the older guys.”

How will the return of these two explosive targets change the passing attack?

It boosts a position group that was spread thin through Oregon’s (3-1, 1-0) first four games. It adds options for quarterback Justin Herbert and will undoubtedly enhance the passing attack in short, intermediate routes and down the field. The biggest area of improvement I expect will come in offensive plays of 20 or more yards. The Ducks’ 14 passing plays of 20-plus yards currently ranks 47th nationally. Herbert’s arm is capable plus Arroyo laments not attempting more downfield passes to Oregon’s inexperienced receivers in the Ducks’ loss to Auburn in week one. Since the defeat, the Ducks’ explosion plays have increased, in particular to tight end Jacob Breeland and wide receiver Johnny Johnson III.

With Pittman’s hands and Schooler’s speed, expect a more explosive and exciting Oregon offense that will stretch the field against the Bears.

 

Oregon football's depth chart has exciting additions

Oregon football's depth chart has exciting additions

This week’s Oregon football depth chart is bound to get Ducks fans excited for Saturday.

Ahead of the Ducks’ (3-1, 1-0 Pac-12) Conference home opener against California (4-1, 2-1), Coach Mario Cristobal released the weekly depth chart. There are a few notable changes for the 5:00 p.m. kickoff in Autzen Stadium.

1. Wide receivers Brenden Schooler and Mycah Pittman are listed for the first time this season on the depth chart. Schooler is listed as co-starter with redshirt freshman Bryan Addison and Pittman is a backup in the slot.

Pittman, who was expected to contribute or possibly start this season, practiced for the first time with the team last Wednesday in pads but wearing a non-contact jersey. The true freshman’s initial 6-8 weeks projection would mark Pittman healthy as early as Oregon’s game against the Golden Bears. Pittman implied a sooner rather than later return when he tweeted “2 more weekkksss!” on September 8.

Before the injury, he was turning heads and splitting first team reps at slot receiver. Pittman has strong hands, a running back body, and excels at getting separation.

The best case scenario for Schooler’s initial rehab projection would also be vs. Cal. Cristobal expects the senior to practice for the first time on Thursday this week in Oregon’s second full-pad practice of the bye week. Schooler’s return will impact the offense, special teams and the intangibles through his veteran leadership.

 

2. Graduate transfer Juwan Johnson is listed as backup receiver to Schooler/Addison.

Johnson, who has been practicing off and on throughout the season, has yet to play a down in an Oregon uniform. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound receiver with an advantage in size and experience, is “day-to-day” according to Cristobal, who says his injury has not worsened.

Juwan Johnson and Herbert’s connection intensified throughout spring and summer. Johnson brings needed experience to the position: playing in 16 more games than the Ducks’ most veteran wide receiver, Schooler (21 games). Plus, his large, powerful, physical frame is unlike the other receivers currently on Oregon’s roster along with his ability to power through and over defensive backs.

How Juwan Johnson, Mycah Pittman and Brenden Schooler's return changes the Oregon offense

How Juwan Johnson, Mycah Pittman and Brenden Schooler's return changes the Oregon offense

How Juwan Johnson, Mycah Pittman and Brenden Schooler's return changes the Oregon offense

Oregon’s offense and offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo’s play calling have largely been criticized through four games of the 2019 season. While the lack of an established running game is extremely concerning, the continuously improving passing game is about to get even better.

Oregon’s passing attack could have three more weapons for quarterback Justin Herbert in the Ducks’ Pac-12 home opener against No. 15 California on Saturday, Oct. 5.

The No. 13 Oregon Ducks (3-1, 1,0 Pac-12) have nearly doubled their opponents in passing yards, 1,216 to 640, while scoring 16 passing touchdowns compared to two scored against. Herbert’s perfectly placed throws have often been jaw dropping and his numbers show it. Herbert has completed 74.4 percent of his passes and has yet to throw an interception through four games, a 14-0 touchdown-to-interception ratio. His quarterback rating is seventh in the country at 183.61 and that’s with five scholarship receivers out with injuries.

The Ducks receiving corps took hard injury hits before the season. Three of the hardest hits were losing graduate transfer Juwan Johnson (soft tissue injury), Mycah Pittman (shoulder injury) and Brenden Schooler (foot injury).

"The guys that we lost, they’re legitimate not only intermediate threats, quick game threats, they’re guys that can stretch the field," Oregon Coach Mario Cristobal said. "We certainly look forward to having those guys back and when you have guys like that back you feel like you can enhance a lot of the things that you do."

Pittman, who was expected to contribute or possibly start this season, practiced for the first time with the team on Wednesday in pads but wearing a non-contact jersey. The true freshman’s initial 6-8 weeks projection would mark Pittman healthy as early as Oregon’s game against the Golden Bears. Pittman implied a sooner rather than later return when he tweeted “2 more weekkksss!” on September 8.

Before the injury, he was turning heads and splitting first team reps at slot receiver. Pittman has strong hands, a running back body and excels at getting separation.

The best case scenario for Schooler’s initial rehab projection would also be vs. Cal. Cristobal expects the senior to practice for the first time on Thursday this week in Oregon’s second full-pad practice of the bye week. Schooler’s return will impact the offense, special teams and the intangibles through his veteran leadership.

Juwan Johnson, who has been practicing off and on throughout the season, has yet to play a down in an Oregon uniform. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound receiver with an advantage in size and experience, is “day-to-day”, according to Cristobal, who says his injury has not worsened.

Juwan Johnson and Herbert’s connection intensified throughout spring and summer. Johnson brings needed experience to the position: playing in 16 more games than the Ducks’ most veteran wide receiver, Schooler (21 games). Plus, his large, powerful, physical frame is unlike the other receivers currently on Oregon’s roster along with his ability to power through and over defensive backs.

The return of these three explosive targets adds options for Herbert and will undoubtedly enhance the passing attack in short, intermediate routes and down the field. The biggest area of improvement I expect will come in offensive plays of 20 or more yards. The Ducks’ 14 passing plays of 20-plus yards currently ranks 47th nationally. Herbert’s arm is capable plus Arroyo laments not attempting more downfield passes to Oregon’s inexperienced receivers in the Ducks’ loss to Auburn in week one. Since the defeat, the Ducks’ explosion plays have increased, in particular to tight end Jacob Breeland and wide receiver Johnny Johnson III.

Johnny Johnson III is leading the Ducks with 22 receptions, already a season-high in his UO career. After an up and down Oregon career, Johnson III said,  ‘Enough is enough. It’s my time,’ and has proved to be a reliable target this season. Breeland, who currently leads the Ducks in yards, totaling 265 yards on 18 receptions and five touchdowns, is a constant goal line threat.

Cristobal isn’t going to stray from his run-first, win the battle in the trenches, physical offense. Through four games, the Ducks are at a 50/50 pass to run ratio and the passing yardage (1,216) close to doubles the rushing yards (619). Yes, it’s been rough to watch the Ducks pound the ball time and time again with often limited success but the efficient passing game provides some relief.

With Juwan Johnson’s size, Pittman’s hands and Schooler’s speed, expect a more explosive and exciting Oregon offense that will stretch the field when the three targets return.

Wide receiver Juwan Johnson appears out for Oregon vs. Auburn

Wide receiver Juwan Johnson appears out for Oregon vs. Auburn

Oregon wide graduate transfer receiver Juwan Johnson will not play against No. 16 Auburn, it appears. Juwan Johnson is not suited up or warming up prior to the game. 

The receiver was held out of practice last Wednesday after leaving last Tuesday’s practice early with a noticeable limp. 

When asked for an update on the 6-foot-4, 230-pound senior, wide receiver coach Jevon Bouknight said it was “precautionary” from cramps. Johnson was expected to play week one against Auburn according to Oregon coach Mario Cristobal.

“Juwan has been cleared, he’s been full-go. We are excited about his return," Cristobal said on Monday.

The Ducks receiving corps is already coping with the loss of Brenden Schooler, who will be out another five to seven weeks after suffering a right foot injury that required surgery.

The depth took another hit when true freshman receiver Mycah Pittman, who was expected to contribute or possibly start this season, hurt his shoulder while making a diving catch and will be sidelined for at least 6-8 weeks.

Also, freshman wide receiver JR Waters had a lower leg procedure and won’t return for four to six weeks. Freshmen Lance Wilhoit has also been limited with lingering injures.

Behind Juwan Johnson on the depth chart is redshirt freshman Bryan Addison. Jaylon Redd and Johnny Johnson III will also start for the Ducks. 

Oregon receiver Juwan Johnson injury scare just "precautionary"

Oregon receiver Juwan Johnson injury scare just "precautionary"

Oregon’s receiving corps received a scare with a possible fifth injury and appears to have dodged the literal largest blow.

6-foot-4, 230-pound senior Juwan Johnson was absent from Wednesday’s practice (during the time reporters can watch) after leaving Tuesday’s practice early with a noticeable limp, according to reports from Eugene.

When asked for an update on Oregon's big-bodied starter, wide receiver coach Jevon Bouknight said it was “precautionary” from cramps, according to reports from Eugene. Johnson is expected to play week one against Auburn.

Oregon needs to find its next leading receiver and the Penn State graduate transfer is looking every bit he part.

He brings needed experience to the position: playing in 16 more games than the Ducks' most veteran wide receiver, senior Brenden Schooler (21 games). Plus, his large, powerful, physical frame is unlike the other receivers currently on Oregon's roster along with his ability to power through and over defensive backs.

The Ducks receiving corps is already coping with the loss of Brenden Schooler, who will be out another five to seven weeks after suffering a right foot injury that required surgery.

The depth took another hit when true freshman receiver Mycah Pittman, who was expected to contribute or possibly start this season, hurt his shoulder while making a diving catch and will be sidelined for at least 6-8 weeks.

Also, freshman wide receiver JR Waters had a lower leg procedure and won’t return for four to six weeks. Freshmen Lance Wilhoit has also been limited with lingering injures.

Stay tuned for more updates, but it appears Oregon dodged a very large bullet. 

Dropped passes problem: Oregon football noticing a difference from the inside

Dropped passes problem: Oregon football noticing a difference from the inside

Remember when penalties plagued Oregon football in 2017? Last season, the Ducks successfully improved from the most undisciplined and heavily penalized team in the country to fourth the Pac-12 Conference in penalty yards. Oregon coach Mario Cristobal corrected UO’s bad habits to dramatically improve from the FBS-worst 88.31 penalty yards per game to 47.92 penalty yards in 2018.

What a turn around.

The Ducks must do it again. It’s no secret that next on the fix list is Oregon’s dropped passes problem. The receiving corps dropped 52 passes in the 2018 season. That’s a major hindrance when trying to make the most of Heisman-hopeful quarterback Justin Herbert’s final season at UO. Drives and potential scoring opportunities cannot be halted due to drops if Oregon wants to improve on its 9-4 record. 

The good news is the rectification process is already paying dividends.

New wide receivers coach Jevon Bouknight made a strong statement right away; focusing on one of the most old-school and effective drills, the Jugs machine. Graduate transfer Juwan Johnson, tight end Cam McCormick and offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo all indicated the countless reps have had a large influence on the receivers.

Johnson, the 6-foot-4, 230-pound receiver with an advantage in size and experience, has seen a change even since he’s arrived a few months ago.

“There has definitely been a change in dropped passes,” Johnson said. “The difference is that now the guys have confidence. (Coach Bouknight) is all about the details, his middle name is details.”

Cristobal stated the passing game inefficiency did not stem from a lack of work ethic, rather a lack of confidence and attention to detail. Bouknight has established precise discipline in aligning perfectly before each play and nailing the details of each route.

Oregon fans noticed the zero dropped passes from the wide receivers in the UO spring game, while teammates are seeing a difference from the inside.

“Receivers are making incredible catches,” offensive lineman Penei Sewell said. “Watching them improve every day has been incredible. Whatever Coach Bouknight is doing, he needs to keep doing, he’s doing something right.”

The addition of Johnson and a strong freshman class has created a unit of competition where everyone is trying to fill the vacancy for Oregon’s next top receiver; Reliability is of the utmost importance.

“(The receivers) did a good job in spring, a really good job in summer, you can tell by the way they are coming into camp,” Arroyo said. “With the added group and added depth, every day is an opportunity to win a job, take a job or keep a job. “

The opportunity for playing time is plentiful but there is no time to waste; A date with Auburn football looms on August 31.

Football players team up with Sabrina Ionescu for 3 vs. 3 basketball tournament

Football players team up with Sabrina Ionescu for 3 vs. 3 basketball tournament

Oregon athletes will be competing against each other in a 3 vs. 3 basketball tournament called Augusta Invitational.  

It appears that Oregon running back Darrian Felix, quarterback Tyler Shough and graduate transfer wide receiver Juwan Johnson have quite the fourth teammate: Oregon women’s basketball star Sabrina Ionescu is listed as the reserve for team “Ball So Hard University."

Offseason? What offseason? Ionescu can’t get enough basketball. The triple-double queen and Ruthy Hebard were also named to the USA 3x3 basketball tournament in Peru for the Pan American Games on July 27-29. 

Questionable to put Ionescu as a reserve... Last summer, Ionescu, Hebard, and Oregon teammates Oti Gildon and Erin Boley won the USA Basketball 3x3 national title in Colorado Springs. In May, Ionescu earned tournament MVP after helping to win the USA Basketball national title in Las Vegas.

Another intriguing aspect of this team: Johnson, who transfered from Penn State and could be quarterback Justin Herbert’s top target next season, is bonding with teammates and buying into Duck culture.

It’s a good sign that the receiver is connecting and creating relationships with Felix and Shough, who emerged as UO’s top backup quarterback this spring.

The “Ball So Hard University” squad also could play the “Tic Tacs” in the tournament: a team made up of Oregon wide receiver Brenden Schooler, tight ends Ryan Bay, Jake Breeland and “reserve” Kyle Buckner.

The “premiere tournament” will take place on July 13, according to Instagram.

Talkin’ with the Ducks pt. 3: Juwan Johnson's pregame rituals, secret hobby

Talkin’ with the Ducks pt. 3: Juwan Johnson's pregame rituals, secret hobby

Welcome into a new running NBC Sports Northwest feature; Talkin’ with the Ducks. The first edition is with the largest wide receiver on Oregon’s roster, graduate transfer Juwan Johnson.

[WATCH PART 1: Juwan Johnson and Justin Herbert's intensifying connection]

[WATCH PART 2: Coach Cristobal's major impact on Juwan Johnson after his father passed]

In part three, get to know Johnson better with rapid fire questions. Learn about his very specific pregame rituals and his secret hobby. Also, what is the meaning behind his touchdown celebration?

"It’s kind of cocky but sometimes you have to have a little ego when you are playing football," Johnson said. 

Talkin' with the Ducks pt.2: Coach Cristobal's major impact on Juwan Johnson after his father passed

Talkin' with the Ducks pt.2: Coach Cristobal's major impact on Juwan Johnson after his father passed

Welcome into a new running NBC Sports Northwest feature; Talkin’ with the Ducks. Joining us on the first edition is the largest wide receiver on Oregon’s roster, graduate transfer Juwan Johnson.

Juwan Johnson’s father passed away shortly before he transferred to Oregon and moved across the country. In part two of this feature, we dive into some of his favorite football memories with his father, how he's honoring his legacy and the impact that Coach Cristobal has had during the trying time. 

[WATCH PART 1: Juwan Johnson and Justin Herbert's intensifying connection]

"(Cristobal) definitely made me feel comfortable being here," said Johnson. "He kinda feels like my father... I really take it to heart that he checked in on me literally every day."

How Johnson has handled his father's passing while in Eugene

Cristobal's major impact on Johnson after his father passed

 

Talkin' with the Ducks pt.1: Juwan Johnson and Justin Herbert's intensifying connection

Talkin' with the Ducks pt.1: Juwan Johnson and Justin Herbert's intensifying connection

Welcome into a new running NBC Sports Northwest feature; Talkin’ with the Ducks. Joining us on the first edition is the largest wide receiver on Oregon’s roster, graduate transfer Juwan Johnson. The video above is part one, where we dive into Johnson and quarterback Justin Herbert’s budding relationship. 

In part two, we talk about the recent passing of Johnson’s father and how that impacted his decision to transfer to Oregon.

Herbert, the 6-foot-6, 235-pound passer with the powerful right arm and sneaky fast wheels, and Johnson, the 6-foot-4, 230-pound receiver with an advantage in size and experience, are becoming the duo to watch for next season.

You and Johnson have something in common; Herbert wows you both on the regular.

“Sometimes he throws the ball and I’m like, ‘is he really throwing this?” the Penn State graduate transfer said. “And then I’m like, ‘wow, I have the ball in my hands. He really just threw that.’”

As a new addition to the roster with the most experience on the receiving corps, Johnson has an interesting perspective on the projected top 10 NFL Draft pick in 2020. UO needs to find its next leading receiver and Johnson is looking the part.

He brings needed experience to the position: playing in 16 more games than the Ducks’ most veteran wide receiver, Schooler (21 games). Plus, his large, powerful, physical frame is unlike the other receivers currently on Oregon’s roster along with his ability to power through and over defensive backs.

In the video above, Johnson divulges that Herbert's personality is different than the common perception. Also, he answers the question, if Herbert had social media, what would his Instagram look like?