Oregon Ducks

Brooks, Bell and Dorsey should return to improve and finish this thing off right

Brooks, Bell and Dorsey should return to improve and finish this thing off right

GLENDALE, Ariz. - It might be a pipe dream, but let's at least entertain the possibility that Oregon stars Dillon Brooks, Jordan Bell and Tyler Dorsey all could return next season.

All three left the door open following the team's 77-76 loss to North Carolina Saturday in the Final Four played at University of Phoenix Stadium. 

"I'm not too sure," Brooks said when asked about his plans. "I'm going to go through the process and take my time with it."

Bell and Dorsey made similar statements. 

If they were to return, the Ducks could very well be voted as the preseason No. 1-ranked team in the nation and picked as the favorite to capture the 2018 national championship. 

This season will go down as one of historical significance for a program that hadn't made it that far since winning it all in 1939. That didn't lessen the sour feelings in a dejected locker room following defeat. So why not return to take care of unfinished business?

Money is always an allure, along with the dream of playing in the NBA. All of that would still be there for all these three in 2018 with only the fear of injury serving as a potential deterrent. 

There's something else, also; the possibility that none of the three is truly ready for the NBA, or will have much of a career in the association to begin with. 

Bell has played his way into being projected by some mock drafts as a potential late first-round pick. Brooks is projected by most to join senior Chris Boucher in the second round. Dorsey's hot postseason has landed him on some second-round lists. Each could conceivably improve his stock by returning and increase his chances of going higher in the 2018 draft. 

That all, of course, is easy to write from a laptop. Each has a lot of issues to consider, including what's best for their respective families. But from a pure basketball perspective, there are ample reasons for all three to return, but chances are that just one, maybe two, decide to come back. 

Here's a look at the probability each man returning for another season at Oregon: 

Dillon Brooks, Jr., forward, projected second-round pick: Brooks actually should probably leave. He's accomplished so much already and will go down as one of the program's greats. He improved his outside shooting over last season, and he demonstrate great fire, rim attacking ability and all-around defensive skills. He likely won't be a starter for a good NBA team, but he could contribute as a bench player and have some productive years. Returning to Oregon for the Pac-12 player of the year and second-team All-American, and duplicating that success, could thrust Brooks into the first round nexts year.

What will he do?: 80 percent chance he leaves: Brooks explored the draft last season before wisely returning. He's tasted injury this season (foot) and probably won't want to risk a more serious setback next season. 

Jordan Bell, Jr., forward, projected first or second round: Bell has the best pro potential of the three. He is already an NBA-caliber rebounder and shot blocker. His offense, however, won't cut it at the next level. He did demonstrate dramatic improvement in that area this season. Should he return to add more post moves and demonstrate an ability to stick the short jump shot that many teams give him, Bell could play his way into the lottery. 

What will he do?: 50/50. Bell has improved every season and would take another big step if he were to return. It's difficult enough for big men to adjust to the NBA, let alone one with a very marginal offensive game. Bell should come back next season and raise his 10.9 points and 8.8 rebounds per game this season to a cool 15 and 10 next season. 

Tyler Dorsey, So., guard, projected second-round pick to undrafted: Dorsey, who explored the draft last season, appeared to be a lock to return after a wildly inconsistent season before he went off during the postseason, raising his stock. He crushed it in the Pac-12 Tournament and during the first four games of the NCAA Tournament, averaging 23.5 points per game while hitting on 57.5 percent of his three-point attempts. His showing should be enough to make him a second-round pick. However, there are red flags. First off; he had 14 games during the regular season where he made three or fewer field goals with six games of one or zero shots made. Did his supreme tournament showing erase all of that from the minds of scouts? Probably not. Plus, at 6-4 he struggled mightily against North Carolina's perimeter length. The 6-8 Justin Jackson and the 6-6 Theo Pinson were able to prevent Dorsey from getting his shot, harassing him into a 3-of-11 shooting night. Dorsey did, however, finish with 21 points thanks to his ability to get to the free throw line and make all 12 of his attempts from there.

Dorsey isn't a point guard and might not be athletic or big enough to consistently get his shot in the NBA. He does, however, potentially have a future as a three-point marksman off the bench, but only if he becomes more consistent from long distance. 

He could develop in that area next season. 

What will he do?: 25 percent chance he leaves. Dorsey needs to stay another season to show that he can do over an entire season what he did during the postseason. If Brooks leaves, Dorsey becomes the lead scorer and could raise his average from 14.6 this season to 20, or more. Even if Brooks stays, Dorsey could raise his scoring average to 18 simply by drastically reducing the number of horrid performances he puts forth. 

---

Oregon's lineup next season would be ridiculous if all three returned to play alongside guards, Payton Pritchard, Casey Benson, and a hopefully an improved Kavell Bigby-Williams in the middle. Plus, the Ducks welcome in a strong recruiting class led by five-star, and probably one-and-done guard Troy Brown. 

It would be a roster that could certainly get back to the Final Four and bring back a companion for hte 1939 trophy.

But it probably won't happen.

Or could it?

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.”

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

 

Here's where to watch and stream Oregon football vs. Arizona State

Here's where to watch and stream Oregon football vs. Arizona State

Oregon’s final game at Autzen Stadium will be an after dark special vs. Arizona State at 7:30 p.m. A win would match Oregon’s win total (six) from 2017. Here is coverage and how to watch the game...

Social Media

 

NBC Sports Northwest, 7:30 p.m. Friday: Talkin' Ducks

  • With Jordan Kent, Joey Harrington, Aaron Fentress and Bri Amaranthus

Pac-12 Networks, 7:30 p.m. PT Saturday: Oregon vs. Arizona State  kickoff

Radio: 1080 "The Fan" in Portland, KUGN-AM 590 in Eugene

Live stream: https://pac-12.com/live

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

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

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

No jokes. No frills. No gloves…?

Picture a 1970s or 80s running back, maybe at Green Bay in the snow; a workhorse scraping and crawling for yards on the ground.

According to junior offensive lineman Shane Lemieux, that’s what true freshman Travis Dye is like.

Dye is the younger brother of Oregon’s star linebacker junior Troy Dye, but he jokes around a lot less than his “class clown” brother.

"Travis is an example of you go your career coaching and you'll have a few true freshmen that right away are mature enough to handle that pressure," offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo said. "I think him having grown up with Troy a little bit and his upbringing, they've done a really nice job… I think his maturity has showed.”

Dye enrolled early in January and has become Oregon’s No. 2 running back, behind CJ Verdell. However, this Saturday on senior day at Autzen Stadium, the 18-year-old may be asked to shoulder a bigger load due to the Ducks’ depleted depth chart.

Verdell’s and Cyrus Habibi-Likio’s status is unclear, after suffering a neck sprain and quad contusion at Utah, respectfully.

At Utah, Dye had the longest run of 18 yards and finished leading the team with 66 yards on nine carries. The best game of his excellent freshman season came at California; leading the Ducks’ rushing attack with 18 carries for 115 yards, including a 45-yard touchdown.

Among Pac-12 freshmen, Dye ranks in rushing yards (417) and rushing yards per game (41.7). Adding to his 83 carries and two rushing touchdowns, he also has 10 completions for 73 yards and one touchdown.

UO quarterback Justin Herbert complimented Dye on his route running and pass blocking. Dye has also impressed Lemieux.

“(Travis has) a mental capacity almost like a redshirt junior or senior would have,” said Lemieux. “He understands the ins and outs of defensive scheme, pass protections, where to hit the holes and how to be patient behind the blocks.”

Another major strength for Dye is his shiftiness and ability to run hard without hesitation. At 5-foot-10, 200-pounds, Dye has worked hard this season on breaking tackles and making defenders miss.

“I can’t get tackled by one guy,” Dye said.

This Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Dye will face a surging Sun Devils (6-4, 4-3) team that is looking for their fourth straight win to keep their Pac-12 South division title dreams alive.

Arroyo’s game plan is to pound the rock against an Arizona’s rushing defense that ranks 56th in the nation and allows an average of 153 rushing yards per game. In their last three losses (Washington State, Arizona and Utah), the Ducks have averaged just 86.3 yards per game.

If Troy is most likely to be Oregon’s class clown, what is Travis most likely to do?

“Score a touchdown,” Travis said.

With two conference games remaining, the Ducks (6-4, 3-4 Pac-12) are counting on it.

Jim Leavitt isn't living up to his $1.7 million price tag: Agree or disagree?

Jim Leavitt isn't living up to his $1.7 million price tag: Agree or disagree?

Aaron Fentress and I discuss if Oregon defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt is living up to his $1.7 million contract at Oregon.

Leavitt is the highest paid coordinator in the Pac-12 conference and inherited a defense in 2016 that ranked 126th in the nation in total defense. In 2018, the Ducks are 67th in total defense. Over two years, Oregon's scoring defense has improved from 41.4 points per game to 28 points per game. 

What do you think?

MORE DUCKS:

How Oregon can win it's home finale

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

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

Best and Worst from Oregon's loss at Utah

Pac-12 movement in the AP Top 25 Poll

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

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

Washington State head coach Mike Leach is always good for a thought-provoking interview. The No. 8 Cougars are Pac-12 title front runners this season… But who would take the title for last coach standing in a hypothetical brawl between the Pac-12 head coaches? Coach Leach gave a full breakdown.

Initially, Leach picked two coaches he thought are in the best shape; Utah’s Kyle Whittingham and Arizona State’s Herm Edwards.

“Simple, at this age if you’re in shape, you’ve got a chance,” Leach said.  “They’re both in great shape. They’re both in shape, they both exercise.”

However, then Leach began to think about strategy in this fake brawl. His idea is you’d have a good chance to win if you could stay away from Whittingham and Edwards, while they are taking down the other coaches.

Leach was asked about Oregon’s Mario Cristobal, a former offensive lineman at Miami, as a potential fight winner. He was very complimentary of UO’s first year head coach and his long limbs:

“Well you don’t want to get tied up with (Cristobal),” Leach said. “You don’t want to let him get his hands on you because he is big and he’s got long levers. You don’t want him to get those things on you. He would be dangerous, there’s no question. Formidable for sure.”

If I had to rank the Pac-12 coaches, based on who would win in a brawl, here is how it would look:

1. Justin Wilcox

2. Mario Cristobal

3. Kyle Whittingham

4. Kevin Sumlin

5. David Shaw

6. Herm Edwards

7. Mike Leach

8. Clay Helton

9. Jonathan Smith

10. Mike MacIntyre

11. Chip Kelly

12. Chris Peterson

 

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

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

Oregon’s final game at Autzen Stadium will be an after dark special vs. Arizona State at 7:30 p.m. A win would match Oregon’s win total (six) from 2017. Drop knowledge at the tailgate with these eight facts:

ASU is streaking: The Ducks will look to snap the Sun Devils’ three-game win streak, which is their longest in Pac-12 play since 2014.

Much improved Sun Devil offensive line: ASU has allowed just 11 sacks (1.1 per game), which is tied for 12th nationally. Last year, ASU allowed 41 sacks (124th).

Sophomore star: ASU running back Eno Benjamin leads the Pac-12 with 227 carries for 1,295 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns. He's had seven 100-yard games already this season and averaged more than five yards per carry over the last three games.

Flashback: In 2016 and his third career start, quarterback Justin Herbert equaled the program record with 489 passing yards in a 54-35 win over Arizona State at Autzen Stadium. In his two career games against the Sun Devils, Herbert is 50-of-77 for 770 yards, seven touchdowns and no interceptions.

Leading the nation: Justin Herbert’s streak of 25 consecutive games with a touchdown pass is the longest in the nation.

Hello record books, meet Dillon Mitchell: Mitchell is the first player in program history with six or more receptions in seven consecutive games. The junior’s 904 receiving yards in Pac-12 play rank third nationally in conference games. He is the only Pac-12 player and one of seven FBS players with 1,000 yards receiving on the season.

Putting on a show at Autzen: Over the last two seasons at Autzen (13 games), Jalen Jelks and Justin Hollins have a combined 27.0 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks.

Senior night: Oregon will honor 10 seniors on Saturday night, and possibly a few juniors who could be playing their last game in Eugene. The Ducks are out of the race for the Pac-12 title and are playing for the best possible bowl game.