The 2020-2021 Oregon football team will take the field one last time and cap off this sporadic and chaotic college football season.
The No. 25 Oregon Ducks (4-2) are set to take on the Big 12 conference runner-up No. 10 Iowa State Cyclones (8-3) in the Playstation Fiesta Bowl on Saturday, January 2.
On the eve of kickoff, Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal gave a final personnel update on the Ducks including running back CJ Verdell, offensive lineman Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu, linebacker Adrian Jackson and corner Donte Manning.
“They’ve all traveled, they’ve all been practicing so we’re hopeful that they will play. It will be a game-time decision before that but feel like they do have a chance to play.”
The 5’10”, 210-pound junior starting running back has been banged up and seen up and down minutes throughout this entire season. After starting off the first two games recording over 100+ yards on the ground, Verdell has been dealing with a non-disclosed injury for the last four games.
Verdell did not play in the Pac-12 Championship game vs. USC on December 18.
Good news for the Ducks, Travis Dye has stepped up big in both the run game and passing game in Verdell’s absence.
The Ducks replaced all five spots on the offensive line following last season.
One of those key newcomers has been Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu. The 6’6”, 235-pound junior offensive lineman has played in all games this season and been instrumental to the run game success.
The Ducks are currently rushing for 180.2 yards per game.
Last season, Adrian Jackson suffered a season-ended injury days before Oregon’s opener against Auburn. He would utilize his redshirt. This year, having the 6’3”, 235-pound sophomore outside linebacker back in the organizational chart adds depth to this talented position group featuring sophomore Mase Funa and sophomore Andrew Faoliu.
Jackson recorded two tackles and one sack in the win against UCLA on November 21, 2020.
The five-star corner and No. 1 player from the state of Missouri committed to the Oregon Ducks back on December 31, 2019.
He is poised to have a long, solid career in the Ducks secondary. Unfortunately, Manning’s debut consisted of seeing time in one game this season (at Washington State) dealing what is believed to be a hamstring injury.
Manning could be in prime position to take over for senior Dede Lenoir at corner should Lenoir decided to decline his “super senior” season next year and declare for the 2021 NFL Draft.
A corner pairing featuring Mykael Wright and Dontae Manning is not too shabby at all in the Oregon secondary.
Kickoff for the Fiesta Bowl is scheduled for 1 p.m. (PT) at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.