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. 

In search of his own legacy, Justin Herbert has one of his biggest nights with Marcus Mariota in the house

In search of his own legacy, Justin Herbert has one of his biggest nights with Marcus Mariota in the house

The No. 6 Oregon Ducks are Pac-12 Conference North Division Champions, contenders for the College Football Playoff, on a nine-game winning streak and have their first 7-0 start to Pac-12 Conference play since 2012.

In a 34-6 victory over Arizona, official King of the North quarterback Justin Herbert demonstrated how he helped lead Oregon (9-1, 7-0 Pac-12) to those massive accomplishments.

“Magical” is how teammate senior linebacker Troy Dye described Herbert’s performance.

“You get the ball in (number)10’s hands and it’s ridiculous, anything can happen,” Dye continued. “He’s a magician with the ball…I’ll tell you what, he makes throws even crazier in practice.”

Herbert’s 333 passing yards marks his most this season and fourth most in his Oregon career. He became just the second player in Oregon history to surpass 10,000 total career yards and 100 total career touchdowns, sharing the milestone with former Oregon quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota.  

Witnessing from the sideline donning an Oregon-clad baseball hat pulled down, was Mariota. Despite his efforts to remain incognito, the camera found him, which brought 54,219 Ducks fans to their feet in a standing ovation. He took his hat off and bowed to the crowd in appreciation.

“I can always tell when he’s in town because it’s the loudest the crowd ever gets,” Oregon Coach Mario Cristobal said of Mariota. “There is nothing like being a player and seeing not only all the greats, former Oregon Ducks coming back and being around the program…I love it, will continue to invite them and want to see it happen much more.”

Cristobal stressed the top priority to bring the “Men of Oregon” back to strengthen the Duck legacy and “Oregon family.” He continued to share that when he was a player at Miami, meeting alumni was one of his favorite aspects of the game. Crisobal emphasized that it brings a perspective that the current Ducks are “borrowing the jerseys” and apart of something bigger.

The attention shifted back to the other sneaky-quick quarterback with an elite arm.

Herbert’s show started right away. On the second play of the game, he launched a 73-yard touchdown pass to Johnny Johnson III, the longest pass play of his season. The highlights continued with a reverse flea flicker 53-yard touchdown toss to an extended Juwan Johnson, worthy of a SportsCenter Top 10 nod. Herbert whipped his third touchdown with a back-shoulder bullet to Spencer Webb for 24 yards. Herbert’s fourth touchdown went to Travis Dye on a perfectly-timed 33-yard screen pass, extending Oregon’s comfortable lead before turning the reins over to back-up quarterback Tyler Shough.

Picking the best moment would be challenging. Good thing it’s not necessary. What is mandatory, however, is keeping the offensive momentum as the Ducks finish their two remaining Pac-12 games and beyond. Arizona’s defense is the worst in the conference and looming is a title game against the stout No. 7 Utah Utes.

It'll be the first time Oregon competes for the conference title since 2014 during Mariota's final season. When Mariota is in town, his legacy is loud enough to hurt an eardrum. Now, it’s Herbert’s opportunity to establish his own.

What they're saying: Oregon claims the North crown, clinches Pac-12 title spot

What they're saying: Oregon claims the North crown, clinches Pac-12 title spot

Goal accomplished.

It was said at the beginning of the season, that a goal was set out for a Pac-12 Championship. The No. 6 Oregon Ducks inched one step closer to that with a 34-6 win over the Arizona Wildcats on Saturday night in a Pac-12 After Dark special in Autzen Stadium.

The Ducks advance to 7-0 in conference play and now, with two games still remaining on their regular season schedule, have officially locked up the north and are heading to San Jose in December.

Here's how the fans, players reacted to this accomplishment.

MORE ON THE DUCKS

In search of his own legacy, Herbert has one of his biggest nights with Mariota in the house

Instant Analysis: Oregon beats Arizona, clinches Pac-12 North

 

Instant Analysis: Oregon beats Arizona, clinches Pac-12 North

Instant Analysis: Oregon beats Arizona, clinches Pac-12 North

EUGENE – In a decisive game, the No. 6 Oregon Ducks beat Arizona, 34-6, in front of a deafening 54,219 fans at Autzen Stadium, clinching their third Pac-12 North Division title and punching their tickets to the conference championship game.

The win extends the Ducks’ winning streak to nine games and improves them to 7-0 in Pac-12 Conference play for the first time since 2012. Under Coach Mario Cristobal, Oregon (9-1, 7-0 Pac-12) is now 12-1 at home. With the victory, a berth into the College Football Playoff is still possible. 

Here are the top three takeaways from the contest.

1. Duck Dominance

The win exhibited balanced strengths all over the field. 

Offensively, Oregon’s passing attack thrived. Quarterback Justin Herbert threw incredible highlights, including a 73-yard touchdown pass to Johnny Johnson (longest pass play of UO’s season) and 53-yard touchdown to Juwan Johnson, who made a Sports Center Top 10-type catch. When utilized, the Duck running game was powerful.

UO’s defense smothered. The Ducks held the Wildcats to two field goals through the first half, while pressuring Arizona quarterbacks Khalil Tate and Grant Gunnell. Senior Troy Dye, senior Bryson Young and junior Austin Faoliu provided a third-down sacks to end Arizona’s drives.

2. Injury bug strikes

Oregon freshman wide receiver Mycah Pittman suffered a potential season ending injury in the first quarter. Pittman and quarterback Justin Herbert connected on an 11-yard pass and Pittman came down awkwardly after being tackled. Early indications suggest that Pittman's injury could be a broken wrist.

Already this season, Pittman rehabbed back from a broken collarbone that caused him to miss the opening four games. In five games, Pittman has 13 receptions for 186 yards and three touchdowns. One of Oregon’s most dynamic receivers, the loss of Pittman would be a serious blow to the Ducks and their Pac-12 title goals.

Sophomore running back CJ Verdell was shaken up the second quarter, he left the game and did not return to play in the second half. 
 

3.  VIPs in Autzen Stadium

Through donated tickets, Oregon had more than 1,000 military veterans and their families at the game in conjunction with Veterans Day. Former Ducks Marcus Mariota, Tony Brooks-James, Jeff Lockie and Charles Nelson also were on the sidelines and in attendance for the win.

--

More to come with quotes and videos from Coach Mario Cristobal and Ducks players.

 

Oregon Ducks in action vs. Arizona, follow us on social for live updates

Oregon Ducks in action vs. Arizona, follow us on social for live updates

The No. 6 Oregon Ducks (8-1, 6-0 Pac-12) can punch their ticket to the Pac-12 title game with a win over Arizona (4-5, 2-4 Pac-12). The wildcats, and quarterback Khalil Tate, stand in their way of doing so. 

Our Oregon Ducks Insider Bri Amaranthus and Digital Producer Ashley Young are in Eugene, OR for the game, so make sure you follow along on social. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. (PT).

NUMBERS TO KNOW

In the last 12 games between Oregon and Arizona, the Ducks are 7-0 when scoring more than 40 points per game and 0-5 when scoring less than 40.

Coming off a bye, a Duck win this Saturday vs. Arizona (4-5, 2-4 Pac-12) would clinch their third North Division title and a spot in the Pac-12 championship.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

Senior linebacker Troy Dye, who suffered a broken thumb in the first quarter against Washington, has turned up his intensity at practice. Dye realizes that at any moment, at any snap, the game of football can be taken away from you. He is relishing every moment in his final season at Oregon.

“I’m at a 12. I’m having a blast. I wake up every morning with a smile on my face, I come here (to practice) with a smile on my face and I’m going to leave with a smile on my face," says Dye.

GAME INFORMATION

Time: Saturday, Nov, 16 at 7:30 p.m. (PT)

Where: Autzen Stadium, Eugene, OR.

TV: ESPN

Radio: KUGN-AM (590), KUJZ-FM (95.3), KZEL-FM (96.1)

 

The one thing Mario Cristobal emphasized during the bye week: penalties, penalties, penalties.

The one thing Mario Cristobal emphasized during the bye week: penalties, penalties, penalties.

If Oregon Coach Mario Cristobal could wave his magic wand and fix one thing about his team’s performance, it would be easy: penalties. 

In the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with Jordan Kent and Anthony Newman, Kent sits down with Cristobal to talk about what changes Oregon has emphasized and practiced during the bye week.

“Penalties. We had been the least penalized team in the conference. I understand it, we have 49 guys from California and a lot from southern California, and that game went over the edge at times. You can’t do it. And it doesn’t make you any tougher or make you any better, but look I’m behind our guys one hundred percent. We just aren’t behind the stuff that can compromise winning,” said Cristobal.

The No. 6 Ducks went from first to worst in the span on three games accumulating over 100 yards in penalties in each of those games. At USC, more uncharacteristic penalties plagued the Ducks highlighted by an ejection from defensive lineman Austin Faoliu. 

Cristobal added, “We play with a lot of passion. We play with a lot of emotion, but we kind of let emotion play with us a bit in the course of that game. But then, in the second half, we were able to take control and get stronger and able to wear down our opponent.”

From the moment Cristobal was hired as head coach, one of his main philosophies has been disciplined football. The Ducks haven’t shown that in recent games racking up all these yards in penalties, but Cristobal can assure you that he is getting it under control.

Listen to the full Talkin’ Ducks Podcast below:

MORE ON THE DUCKS

Podcast: You can't reward a one-loss, no conference champion team with a CFP spot, right?

Oregon swagged out in nightmare green and yellow for Pac-12 After Dark

Legacy of a Leader: Troy Dye's intensity guiding Oregon to a season worth coming back for

Podcast: You can’t reward a one-loss, no conference championship team with a CFP spot, right?

Podcast: You can’t reward a one-loss, no conference championship team with a CFP spot, right?

Minnesota and Baylor just may skip over Oregon to secure a College Football Playoff spot.

Let's run a scenario:

“If Oregon wins out, and there is still a lot of football to be played, the only way a one-loss Oregon team that is the Pac-12 Champion is on the outside looking in, is if you do get a Minnesota running the table or even Baylor running the table,” says Talkin’ Ducks host Jordan Kent on the latest Talkin' Ducks Podcast.

If you look at just the value of wins alone and strength of conference, the Big Ten is home to six of the top-25 teams in the country; the Big 12 has five; the Pac-12 has just two (No. 6 Oregon, No. 7 Utah).

Minnesota upset Penn State (then No. 17 beating then No. 4) which jumped the Golden Gophers up to No. 8 in this week’s CFP rankings.

The Golden Gophers still have two top-20 teams remaining on their schedule: No. 20 Iowa and No. 14 Wisconsin.

The other team that may give Oregon some trouble is Baylor. The No. 13 Bears (9-0) don’t have any promising wins to show for yet this season, but still has to face two teams in the top-20 remaining on their schedule: vs. No. 10 Oklahoma on Saturday and vs. No. 19 Texas on November 23. Both games however will be played at home in Waco, Texas.

It’s a plus and a minus feeling. If both Minnesota and Baylor win out and are they are their respected conference champions, strength of schedule and strength of conference just may be the determining factor to putting either of these teams ahead of Oregon.

On the other hand, Baylor and Minnesota have tough matchups coming up and a loss for either team will put a one-loss Oregon ahead. 

Then there is Alabama. Oh yes, with the history and dominance in college football, can you even imagine a College Football Playoff without Alabama in it? Would the committee put a one-loss, no SEC champ Alabama ahead of (hypothetically) a Pac-12 Conference Champion in Oregon?

“I don’t think you can reward a one-loss team that doesn’t play in their conference championship game and award them a playoff spot ahead of a team with a similar record as far as who goes into the College Football Playoff,” says Kent.

“They shouldn’t, but I think they will,” added co-host Anthony Newman.

Listen to the full podcast below:

MORE ON THE DUCKS

Oregon swagged out in nightmare green and yellow for Pac-12 After Dark

Legacy of a Leader: Troy Dye's intensity guiding Oregon to a season worth coming back for

Talkin' Ducks Podcast: Jordan Kent sits down with Mario Cristobal

Oregon swagged out in nightmare green and yellow for Pac-12 After Dark

Oregon swagged out in nightmare green and yellow for Pac-12 After Dark

Looking to punch their tickets to the Pac-12 Championship game, the No. 6 Oregon Ducks will be swagged out in yellow and nightmare green ­­­­on Saturday at 7:30 p.m in Autzen Stadium. Ducks fans are encouraged to wear green to the crucial matchup.

Oregon's "Nike Vapor Fusion" uniform is celebrating its 20th anniversary of their partnership with Nike. The winged helmets are back and the jerseys feature large "Mighty Oregon" font resembling last season's "Oregon Football 2.0" uniform with slight differences. The addition of Nightmare Green is the biggest change while notably no black set was released (yet). 

Coming off a bye, a Duck win this Saturday vs. Arizona (4-5, 2-4 Pac-12) would clinch their third North Division title and a spot in the Pac-12 championship. A victory keeps the Ducks in the running as a College Football Playoff contender.

Numbers to know: In the last 12 games between Oregon and Arizona, the Ducks are 7-0 when scoring more than 40 points per game and 0-5 when scoring less than 40.

MORE DUCKS

Legacy of a Leader: Troy Dye's intensity guiding Oregon to a season worth coming back for

No. 6 Oregon in excellent position in CFB Playoff Poll: Patience is required

How Oregon can beat Arizona to become kings of the North

The magic number for Oregon vs. Arizona

Mario Cristobal’s ear catching comments on expanding Mykael Wright’s role

Legacy of a Leader: Troy Dye's intensity guiding Oregon to a season worth coming back for

Legacy of a Leader: Troy Dye's intensity guiding Oregon to a season worth coming back for

Flashback to a beautifully crisp winter day and Oregon’s win over Michigan State in the Redbox Bowl at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. Junior Troy Dye hoisted his defensive MVP trophy in the air as fans congratulated Oregon’s leading tackler for three-straight seasons on possibly his last victory in a Ducks uniform.

It wasn’t. Despite gaining traction as a “freak athlete” in NFL circles with an opportunity to make major money in the 2019 NFL draft, Dye chose to stay at Oregon for his senior season. 

317 days later, Dye is still leading No. 6 Oregon in tackles, has jumped up to a projected first round 2020 NFL draft selection and has the opportunity to be hoisting a more prestigious trophy in the air in his actual final season.

Through eight games, Dye’s senior tour has featured 42 tackles with 6.5 for a loss including a sack, three pass breakups and an interception on one of Oregon’s strongest defenses in program history.

His highlights are stunning:

  • In his final home opener, the smiling linebacker danced alone to the familiar tune of “Shout” letting loose and pumping up the rowdy crowd in a moment that will go down in history.
  • Dye recorded a career-high 15 tackles and the most in a season opener in Oregon history vs. Auburn.
  • Dye performed a snow angel in the middle of the W at Husky Stadium after overcoming the largest second-half deficit since 2008.
  • Back in his home of southern California, Dye jumped into the stands after handing USC its worst home loss since 2009.

The Ducks are undefeated in Pac-12 Conference play, one win from claiming the North Division and contenders for a spot in the College Football Playoff.

On a scale from 1-10, how much fun is Dye having?

“I’m at a 12. I’m having a blast. I wake up every morning with a smile on my face, I come here (to practice) with a smile on my face and I’m going to leave with a smile on my face.”

The most telling moment of his season may have come from suffering a broken thumb and gutting it out at Washington. The injury kept him on the sideline against Washington State, snapping his consecutive start streak at 40 games and bringing a reality that it takes only one snap for a football season, or career, to be over. In a cast the size of a club, Dye returned one game later to beat up on the Trojans and show the truth of his character.

“That’s a significant injury that a lot of people would have probably waited to be fully healed and then go and play,” Oregon Coach Mario Cristobal said. “But what he chose to do is different. When guys like Troy speak, those are strong, powerful and impactful words. This (season) means a lot to him and it shows in the way he approaches practice and everything he does. I can’t say enough great things about him, I think he’s as good as it gets in the country.”

His words impacted Oregon's home opener, in which the Ducks trailed Cal 7-0 at halftime. Dye’s halftime speech eloquently made it clear the Ducks needed to play to their standard. The sentiment was echoed and the Ducks overcame their slow start to beat the Bears 17-7.

His actions speak louder than his words. Since returning and still in a cast for his thumb, the linebacker has hit a new level with three conference games left to play.

“He’s done a tremendous job over the course of the season but you really see it now, down the stretch,” Oregon Defensive Coordinator Andy Avalos said. “In my opinion, I think he’s turned it up in practice, since the injury. It made him want it even more.”

Troy Dye agrees that he has hit a new intensity.

“I realized that it can be taken from you. Within a snap, it can be gone,” Dye said. “I’m super fortunate to be able to come back and play with my brothers and end the season how I want to end it. I’m happy, I’m having fun with it and enjoying my time here.”

His teammates couldn’t be happier for him, either. True freshman Mase Funa beams when he details all the tips he’s learned from Dye. Junior Thomas Graham loves to see Dye prosper after witnessing him help change the program from a 4-8 team (2016) to a team on an eight-game winning streak with the biggest goals, a conference title and playoff berth, still possible.

What’s it like for Cristobal to witness Dye live his best life this season?

“I’m jealous. I want to go back to college and do it like he’s doing it,” Cristobal said.

In his final season, the future opportunities are ever-present for Dye. Every Oregon game, more and more NFL scouts grace the media press box. Dye accepted a Senior Bowl invite, where he can show off his elite agility and lateral quickness.

But before all of that, the Ducks need their leader to finish a potentially history-making season, which is exactly the kind of season a junior hopes to return for.

Talkin' Ducks Podcast: Jordan Kent sits down with Mario Cristobal

Talkin' Ducks Podcast: Jordan Kent sits down with Mario Cristobal

Jordan Kent and Anthony Newman talk about the Ducks coming out of the bye week, the changes around the college football landscape and the college football playoff chances for a one-loss Oregon team.

Plus, a special sit down with Oregon Head Football Coach Mario Cristobal!

Listen: