Oregon Ducks

Despite loss, "Oregon football 2.0" has arrived

Despite loss, "Oregon football 2.0" has arrived

EUGENE - The nation turned to Eugene Saturday night for a battle of two Pac-12 teams with conference title aspirations.

The winner presumed to be the favorite to compete with Washington to win the North Division and a possible college football playoff contender.

For almost the entire game, it looks like that team would be the Ducks but No. 20 Oregon lost in heartbreaking fashion to No. 7 Stanford in overtime, 38-31. In a game where two fumbles and a strange pylon rule changed everything, one thing is clear: Oregon Football 2.0 has arrived. 

What is Oregon Football 2.0?

The Ducks (3-1, 0-1 Pac-12) showed glimpses tonight. It started with gains in the weight room in the offseason, led by strength and conditioning coach Aaron Feld who is so full of energy, his handlebar mustache may emit electricity. The linemen beefed up, quarterback Justin Herbert added 20 pounds, and winning the battle in the trenches became priority number one. A team once known for it's speed, changed its style of football to be disciplined and physical.
Did Oregon coach Mario Cristobal feel the Ducks gave a good showing of his smash mouth approach against the Cardinal?

"In a lot of ways we did,” said Cristobal. “At the line of scrimmage, particularly in the first half and then moments in the fourth quarter, we did a really nice job up front on both sides of the ball.”

To say Oregon has improved its rushing defense would be an understatement.

Last season Stanford squashed Oregon, 49-7. In that game, Heisman Trophy runnerup Bryce Love rushed for over 100 yards in the first five minutes. The Cardinal rushed for 248 yards and averaged six yards per carry. In short, the Ducks' defense was not a factor.

Fast forward a year and that was not the case on Saturday. The Ducks' defense held Love to 89 rushing yards and the team to net rushing yards of 71 after factoring in 19 total yards of sacks.

In 2017, the Cardinal rushed for an average of six yards per carry against Oregon, in 2018 the Ducks held them to three yards per carry.

That isn't a consolation prize but it does give reason to be optimistic that the Ducks physicality is helping close the gap on the top teams in the conference.

“Yea, I think today was a really good test of physicality and I think we won up front,” said left guard Shane Lemieux. “Obviously it wasn’t enough to win the game but I think we did a really good job of time of possession.”

It wasn't surprising the Ducks controlled the line of scrimmage in their three non-conference games. But Stanford and coach David Shaw’s physical approach is a different animal. Before coming to Autzen Stadium, the Cardinal defense allowed an average of 7.7 points per game, a nation’s best. 

The Ducks scored 31 points and their 178 rushing yards topped Stanford’s 71 rushing yards.

Herbert put on a show, his Heisman Trophy campaign was trending on Twitter, and he was a perfect 7-7 in the first quarter. He finished with 346 passing yards, completing 26 of 33, with one interception.

Of his 26 completions, 14 went to junior wide receiver Dillon Mitchell. Mitchell had one of the best games in the history of the Oregon program. His career-high 239 receiving yards and 14 catches are the 2nd most in UO history.
A spectacular night from Mitchell was not enough for the Ducks to upset the Cardinal.
As the schedule has it, Oregon will have another shot at a signature win in a few weeks against Washington at home. All is not lost for the Ducks, as they put on a good showing against the seventh best team in the nation.
“This conference is wide open, and you've got to get back on it right way,” said Cristobal. “You’ve got to shake it off, and shake if off fast. We ended up giving it up today, and you can’t let that beat you next week.”
Next Saturday is Oregon’s first road test at California (3-0). The Bears are undefeated and snuck into the latest Top 25 poll at No. 24. Oregon moved up from No. 20 to No. 19, despite the loss to Stanford. It'll be another Top 25 showdown for the Ducks at Berkeley. 

Oregon Ducks fans give new cornerbacks coach Rod Chance a warm welcome back

Oregon Ducks fans give new cornerbacks coach Rod Chance a warm welcome back

The newest member of the Oregon football coaching staff is coming home.

Rod Chance, who served as an Oregon football analyst in 2018 and then the cornerbacks coach at Minnesota last season leading the Golden Gophers to second in the BIG 10 Conference in interceptions (14), is returning home to Autzen Stadium as Mario Cristobal's newest hire to coach the Ducks cornerbacks.

[RELATED]: Former Oregon analyst Rod Chance returns as cornerbacks coach

Chance replaces Donte' Williams, who was hired within the Pac-12 Conference at USC.

[RELATED]: With Donte' Williams hired at USC, Oregon better be ready for a dogfight for Los Angeles

Here is how the Oregon football community responded to the news:

Your first look at the new coaching hires as well as Oregon's 2020 recruiting class will be the Spring game on Saturday, April 18 at 2 p.m. (PT) in Autzen Stadium.

Instant Analysis: ‘Boley Buckets’ heats up in L.A. as No. 3 Oregon cruises past USC

Instant Analysis: ‘Boley Buckets’ heats up in L.A. as No. 3 Oregon cruises past USC

It doesn’t rain often in Los Angeles, but on Sunday it poured thanks to Erin Boley.

Led by Boley’s hot hand from three-point range, the Ducks lit it up with all four starters finishing in double figures: Sabrina Ionescu recorded her 52nd career double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds; Satou Sabally with 18 points; Erin Boley with 25 hitting 7-for-12 from 3-PT range; and Ruthy Hebard with 22 points and 10 rebounds, shooting 9-for-13 from the field. Minyon Moore also dished out 11 of Oregon’s 26 total assists.

It was a complete team effort on Sunday afternoon with the No. 3 Oregon Ducks (24-2, 13-1 Pac-12) taking down the USC Trojans (13-12, 5-9 Pac-12) 93-67 in Los Angeles, California.

Here are three takeaways from the game:

1. SOLID BALL MOVEMENT

A 9-2 Ducks run midway through the second quarter opened up a 34-24 lead. It was good ball movement from Sabrina Ionescu and Minyon Moore finding Ruthy Hebard down low that gave 10-point advantage. Ionescu (8) and Moore (7) combined for all of Oregon’s 15 total assists in the first half.

[RELATED]: One step closer to 2K, 1K, 1K: Sabrina Ionescu checks off assists

2. BOLEY BUCKETS

When Erin Boley gets hot, get her the ball and get out of the way. The 6-foot-2 forward's three-point shooting (38.9%) has fallen off slightly this season from 43% last season, but when she is feeling it, she can go off. Sunday against USC was one of those days.

In the third quarter alone, Boley recorded with 12 points off 4-for-6 from downtown.

The Ducks started this game off shooting just 1-for-11 from three-point range. Since then, as a team, 12-of-19 to finish.

3. DEFENSE, DEFENSE, DEFENSE

At some points, the defense looked great: sending double teams down low on USC freshman Alissa Pili (who finished with just 14 points after a 26-point performance against Oregon State on Friday). 

After halftime, Graves joined the Pac-12 Network crew on court for an interview and was asked about the defensive effort in the first half. He responded:

“We looked like the December Ducks, not the February Ducks.”

How did Oregon respond? Well, pretty similar defensive effort in second half. What pulled Oregon away in the end was finding rhythm from 3-PT range in the second half.

UP NEXT: The Ducks have another weekend road trip in the Bay Area starting with at the California Golden Bears (10-15, 2-12 Pac-12) on Friday, Feb. 21 at 6 p.m. (PT) in Berkeley.

Oregon football projected to have nation's 2nd-best defense in 2020

Oregon football projected to have nation's 2nd-best defense in 2020

It's never too early to start looking forward to next season.

Especially when the reigning Pac-12 Champion and Rose Bowl Champion Oregon Ducks are returning so much talent, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.

ESPN's Bill Connely published his preliminary SP+ rankings for the 2020 college football season that had the Ducks ranked 13th overall, but their defense was projected to be second in the country. Oregon's offense ranked 51st due to replacing four-out-of-five lineman and quarterback Justin Herbert.

SP+ ratings take into account returning production, recent recruiting, and recent history of performance on the field. The Ducks excel in all three categories. 

Oregon will return eight defensive starters next season after four juniors (Jordon Scott, Thomas Graham Jr., Austin Faoliu, and Deommodore Lenoir) forwent the NFL Draft to return to school.

Troy Dye, Lamar Winston Jr, and Bryson Young all graduated and will not return. However, Mario Cristobal netted two five-star linebackers, Justin Flowe and Noah Sewell, in the 2020 recruiting class to fill into those spots. Sophomore Mase Funa will look to make a second-year leap as well.

The secondary will excel next season with starters Graham Jr, Lenoir, Breeze, and the best slot cornerback in the country according to Pro Football Focus, Jevon Holland, all returning. Sophomores Mykael Wright and Veronne Mckinley III will provide much-needed depth as well. Last season they were second in the nation in interceptions with 20. New cornerbacks coach Rob Chance will have some weapons in the secondary. 

The Ducks defense last season led the conference in both interceptions and forced turnovers. 

Look for Andy Avalos' unit to repeat that performance, or improve upon it, next season.

Here's what Connely wrote about Oregon.

The narrative early this offseason is that the Pac-12 race is Oregon vs. the field. Mario Cristobal's recruiting is strong, and the Ducks are the defending conference champions. SP+ never got fully on board with the 2019 Ducks, however. They finished just 15th thanks to inconsistency on both sides of the ball, and now they have to replace not only star quarterback Justin Herbert, but also five of their top six offensive linemen. The defense is deep and experienced and is projected to leap into the top five in defensive SP+. The offense, however, is projected 51st.

He went on to say that Oregon may have upgraded at offensive coordinator by hiring former Mississippi State head coach Joe Moorhead as Marcus Arroyo's replacement. 

The first time you can see the 2020 Ducks in action will be during the Spring game on Saturday, April 18 in Autzen Stadium.

Report: Former Oregon analyst Rod Chance returns as cornerbacks coach

Report: Former Oregon analyst Rod Chance returns as cornerbacks coach

It's been a few days since the sudden departure of Oregon Ducks cornerbacks coach Donte' Williams who left Eugene for USC

The search for his replacement is underway, and a target has been reportedly named. According to Football Scoop, Minnesota Golden Gophers cornerbacks coach Rod Chance "is a strong candidate to return to the Ducks’ staff," according to a source of theirs. 

UPDATE: Bruce Feldman of The Atheltic has reported that Mario Cristobal has hired Chance. 

Chance served as a cornerbacks coach for one season at Minnesota where his players, including the NFL-bound Antoine Winfield Jr., had the ninth-fewest passing yards allowed in the nation; an improvement of 42 places after finishing 51st in 2018. 

Before his stop in the midwest, he served as a defensive analyst for Oregon in 2018 when they plucked him from FCS-level Southern Utah where Chance served as defensive backs coach and defensive coordinator. In his final season, his defense produced 15 interceptions, forced eight fumbles, made 21 sacks and had 77 tackles for loss resulting in a Big Sky Championship. 

He has also coached at his alma mater, Rhode Island, and served as a defensive quality control assistant at Vanderbilt. 

Here was his goodbye letter to Oregon when he left for Minnesota.

One step closer to 2K, 1K, 1K: Sabrina Ionescu checks off assists

One step closer to 2K, 1K, 1K: Sabrina Ionescu checks off assists

2,000 points: check

1,000 assists: check

1,000 rebounds: soon.

Sabrina Ionescu continues to inch closer to history with every passing game.

On a night where No. 3 Oregon took down another top opponent in No. 7 UCLA 80-66, the Oregon Ducks senior and triple-double queen dished out eight assists, but it was on her third of the evening that etched her name into history once again.

Ionescu has now checked off two of the three categories in the hunt for 2K, 1K, 1K.

Here's how the sports world reacted to her latest accomplishment:

Ionescu has 973 career rebounds, needing just 27 more to become the first player in NCAA history to reach 2K, 1K, 1K. There are still five games remaining in Pac-12 conference play and Ionescu is currently averaging 8.8 rebounds per game.

UP NEXT: The Ducks remain in Los Angeles for a battle with the USC Trojans (13-11, 5-8 Pac-12) on Sunday at 1 p.m. (PT).

Instant Analysis: Ionescu, Hebard take over in No. 3 Oregon’s huge win over No. 7 UCLA

Instant Analysis: Ionescu, Hebard take over in No. 3 Oregon’s huge win over No. 7 UCLA

Four games and four top opponents. The No. 3 Oregon Ducks are coming off wins over then-No. 4 UConn, No. 12 Arizona and then-No. 19 Arizona State before another top-10 showdown vs. No. 7 UCLA. The Ducks would have to step up once again. Enter Sabrina Ionescu and Ruthy Hebard. The dynamic senior duo has been giving free demonstrations of how to run the pick-and-roll for four years now, and tonight was more of the same show.

No. 3 Oregon (23-2, 12-1 Pac-12) picks up their 11th win in a row with a huge 80-66 over No. 7 UCLA (21-3, 10-3 Pac-12) behind huge efforts from Ionescu and Hebard. 

Here are three quick takeaways from the game:

1. A NEAR PICTURE PERFECT START

For the second game in a row, Oregon holds its opponent to single digits in the first quarter: Last Sunday, the Ducks held Arizona State to two points in the first. Tonight, Oregon held UCLA to eight after one. The defense was stellar from the jump and on the first two possessions, Oregon forced UCLA deep into the shot clock followed by a trap in the corner to force a turnover. 

2. IONESCU, HEBARD DO IT AGAIN

Big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games. Tonight was another example of the Pac-12’s most dynamic duo: Sabrina Ionescu and Ruthy Hebard taking over and putting on a pick-and-roll clinic. Hebard recorded her 51st career double-double finishing with 30 points and 17 rebounds. 

Ionescu was just shy of recording another triple-double: 18 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. With her third assist tonight, Ionescu became just the second player in NCAA history to record 1,000 career assists, one step closer to becoming the first player to record 2,000 points, 1,000 assists and 1,000 rebounds. Ionescu currently has 973 rebounds.

3. DUCKS NEED TO FINISH AND FINISH STRONG

A 19-point lead after three quarters is comfortable right? Wrong. Not in this conference where time and time again any team has proven to go on a run at any time. This was the case against UCLA, making Oregon look uncomfortable in the fourth quarter, turning up the full court and on-ball pressure and forcing turnovers. The Ducks scored just 13 points in the fourth quarter, compared to giving up 18 to the Bruins.

Just down the road tonight, USC defeated No. 11 Oregon State. Oregon will need to keep the foot on the gas pedal against the Trojans on Sunday.

UP NEXT: The Ducks remain in Los Angeles for a battle with the USC Trojans (13-11, 5-8 Pac-12) on Sunday at 1 p.m. (PT).

What to expect from No. 3 Oregon at No. 7 UCLA

What to expect from No. 3 Oregon at No. 7 UCLA

Welcome to yet another BIG day in Pac-12 women’s hoops.

The No. 3 Oregon women’s basketball team (22-2, 11-1 Pac-12) is on the road at No. 7 UCLA (21-2, 10-2 Pac-12) this evening with huge conference standings on the line. The Ducks sit at the top, but No. 8 Stanford and UCLA are lurking one game behind.

Tonight’s matchup is just another day in the Pac-12 conference. Here is a glimpse of what the Ducks have gone through in the past month:

On the flip side, UCLA is 10-2 in Pac-12 conference play with their losses coming on the road at USC (68-70) and on the road to then-No. 16 Arizona (66-92).

Oregon and UCLA have a history of intense matchups: Last season, the Ducks and Bruins split their series in Pac-12 conference play. The two teams then met in the 2018-29 Pac-12 Tournament semi-finals with Oregon defeating UCLA in overtime, 88-83.

Here is what you need to know about the next chapter of this battle:

NUMBERS TO KNOW:

POINTS PER GAME

Oregon - 85.9

UCLA - 74.0

OPPONENTS POINTS PER GAME

Oregon - 56.4

UCLA - 60.4

REBOUNDS PER GAME

Oregon - 40.5

UCLA - 41.9

3-PT PERCENTAGE

Oregon - 37.8%

UCLA - 28.7%

OUTLOOK ON NO. 7 UCLA

The Bruins are riding a three-game win streak with impressive wins on the road at No. 19 Arizona State (70-61) and at No. 6 Stanford (79-69). It took overtime, but UCLA got it done against CAL last Sunday. The Bruins "big 3" include: Michaela Onyenwere, the 6-foot junior forward from Auroa, Coloaro averaging 19.9 points and 7.9 rebounds per game; Charisma Osborne, the speedy freshman guard who is averaging 11.1 points per game; and of course Japreece Dean, the 5-foot-7 senior guard averaging 13.6 points and dishing out 5.0 assists per game.

KEYS TO AN OREGON WIN

- Will the Ducks potentially play a lot more 2-3 zone? UCLA isn’t much of a threat from behind the arc, shooting as a team just 28.7%. 

- Containing Michaela Onyenwere. She is the No. 17 scorer nationally at 19.9 points per game. The 6-foot junior is also shooting 50.6% from the field. She will be a handful for Ruthy Hebard and backside help from Erin Boley and Satou Sabally.

- Limit fast break opportunities. UCLA loves to push the pace and get into its offensive sets early in the shot clock. If Oregon can apply pressure early in the possession and slow down the Bruins’ pace, it just may disrupt their rhythm. 

GAME INFORMATION

WHO: No. 3 Oregon at No. 7 UCLA

WHEN: Friday night // 8 p.m. (PT)

WHERE: Pauley Pavilion // Los Angeles, Calif.

TV: Pac-12 Networks

RADIO: Oregon Sports Network 

REPORT: Oregon, Mario Cristobal working on contract extension

REPORT: Oregon, Mario Cristobal working on contract extension

Fresh off a Pac-12 Championship and Rose Bowl victory this season, the Oregon football program is reportedly looking to lock up head coach Mario Cristobal in Eugene for years to come. 

According to John Canzano of The Oregonian, "discussions are ongoing" on a long-term contract extension between Cristobal and Oregon. Canzano cites a University of Oregon source.  

Per USA Today, Cristobal's salary is listed at $2.6 million in 2019, 56th overalll in the country. 

These talks are no surprise to the Ducks community, who have seen the impact Cristobal has had on the program since his arrival in January 2017, as a member of Willie Taggert's coaching staff. Following Taggert's departure to Florida State in Dec. 2017, Cristobal took helm of the program, leading the Ducks to a 9-win season in 2018 and a Redbox Bowl victory over Michigan State. 

In his second year, Cristobal received Pac-12 Coach of the Year honors after Oregon went 12-2 overall, winning the Pac-12 North, beating Utah in the championship game and securing a victory over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. 

None of these successes even account for his accomplishments on the recruiting trail. For the second time in program history, the Oregon football program signed the No. 1 recruiting class in the Pac-12, which included five-star linebackers like Noah Sewelll and Justin Flowe. 

Mario Cristobal deserves a victory lap for his work at Oregon, hopefully the school feels the same and rewards him with a contract extension that makes since for the future of the program and Cristobal's continued success. 

Payton Pritchard gets 100th career win in an Oregon Ducks uniform

Payton Pritchard gets 100th career win in an Oregon Ducks uniform

With all the roster turnover, the one-and-dones, the transfers in the last four years in the Oregon men’s basketball program, the one consistent piece in Dana Altman’s system has been Payton Pritchard.

The Portland-native from West Linn High School, 4x state champion, 2015 Oregon Gatorade Player of the Year, Pritchard was the top player out of the state of Oregon and the No. 13 ranked point guard in the nation in the 2016 class. He averaged 23.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 3.1 steals per game and knocked down 68 three-pointers as a senior.

Pritchard had offers from Gonzaga, Villanova, Wisconsin, Oregon and Oklahoma and originally committed to the Sooners. A few months later, a new decision was made: Pritchard decided to sign with the Ducks.

I’ve grown up here. I’m an Oregon boy, born and raised. I love Coach Altman and his coaching staff and I just feel I can be really successful there. — Pritchard told KOIN6 News back in 2015.

The impact Pritchard has had since stepping on campus for the first time has been remarkable. 

FRESHMAN (2016-2017)

It didn’t take long for Payton Pritchard to earn his way into the starting lineup. Just five games into his freshman season, Pritchard replaced then starter Casey Benson against the Tennessee Volunteers in the Maui Invitational. Pritchard finished with six points, two rebounds, one assist and one steal.

After he moved into the starting lineup, the Ducks went 31-4 the rest of the way and fell one game short of playing for a national championship for the first time since the 1939 "Tall Firs" brought the title home to Eugene.

Season-ending averages: 7.4 points, 3.6 assists and 3.4 rebounds per game.

SOPHOMORE (2017-2018)

No “sophomore slump” for Pritchard. 

Coming off a Final Four run in the previous season, the Ducks lost Dillon Brooks, Tyler Dorsey and Jordan Bell to the NBA Draft along with Chris Boucher and Dylan Ennis. The 2017-18 roster featured four returners from the previous year: Pritchard, M.J. Cage, Keith Smith and Paul White.

Pritchard was named All-Pac-12 Second Team selection and led Oregon in both scoring and assists.

The Ducks finished the season 23-13 overall, 10-8 in the Pac-12 and eventually lost in round two of the NIT Tournament to the Marquette Golden Eagles.

Season-ending averages: 14.5 points, 4.8 assists and 3.8 rebounds

JUNIOR (2018-2019)

Another year, another large roster turnover year.

The Ducks returned five players from the previous season: Pritchard, Paul White Kenny Wooten, Will Johnson, and Abu Kigab (transferred midseason).

Named Pac-12 Tournament Most Outstanding Player, Pritchard led the nation in total minutes played (1,349) and starting all 38 games on 2018-19.

He also had quite the impressive dunk against the Washington Huskies in the Pac-12 championship game that got his former teammate Dillon Brooks on his feet:

Oregon went on to make a deep NCAA Tournament run, but ran its course in the Sweet Sixteen to the eventual National Champions the Virginia Cavaliers.

Season-ending averages: 12.9 points, 4.6 assists and 3.9 rebounds

SENIOR (2019-present)

Following his junior campaign, Pritchard decided to test the NBA waters. 

Over the course of his final 11 games his junior year, Pritchard averaged 15.8 points, 5.3 assists and 4.0 rebounds. Part of his feedback from NBA scouts was seeing “tournament Pritchard” on a consistent basis. He would return to Oregon for his senior year.

Now, Pritchard is in National Player of the Year conversations and just one of three active D1 players to be averaging 19.0 points, 5.0 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game.

The Ducks were predicted as the preseason favorites for the Pac-12 title and are currently at the top.

Season averages: 19.6 points, 5.8 assists and 4.3 rebounds

Against UCLA on Sunday, Jan. 26, Pritchard etched his name in Oregon history once again becoming the winningest player in Oregon history with 98 wins.

Tonight vs. No. 16 Colorado, he notched his 100th.

The Ducks still have six games remaining on their conference schedule and at least one game at the Pac-12 Tournament before reaching postseason play.