Oregon Ducks

Ducks grieve the death of former offensive lineman Tui Talia

Ducks grieve the death of former offensive lineman Tui Talia

Former Oregon defensive lineman Tui Talia, who played for the Ducks from 2014-2015, has reportedly passed away this weekend.

The official cause of death has yet to be confirmed, but there are reports that he passed away from a car accident.

Talia joined Oregon as ESPN’s No. 1 junior college defensive end and played two seasons for UO.  He started his college football career at Diablo Valley College.

At 6-foot-5, 285-pounds, Talia was a huge asset for Oregon’s defense. As a senior, he started six games and was the team’s third leading tackler, helping Oregon finish with a 9-4 record.

Talia was from Concord, California and is survived by his parents, Tofa and Saane and two brothers.

His former junior college coach Mike Darr posted on Twitter:

Current UO offensive lineman Shane Lemieux paid tribute:

As well as former Duck, Canton Kaumatule:

Juwan Johnson’s “Big Brother” advice to Mycah Pittman

Juwan Johnson’s “Big Brother” advice to Mycah Pittman

This 2019 Oregon football season has had several bright spots, including the exciting play of Mycah Pittman. The true freshman wide receiver has shown that the future of this program is in good hands... Really strong and sticky hands to be precise. 

Pittman's first season in a Duck uniform has been attacked by injury. A shoulder injury kept him out for the first six games of the season, and now another injury vs. Arizona last Saturday may keep him out the rest of the season.

Pittman working for extra yards, tried to stay off the ground as an Arizona player awkwardly fell into his planted arm. Pittman remained on the field for minutes as the trainers attended to his right wrist with Coach Mario Cristobal hovering over his back, comforting the young receiver.

Pittman was escorted off the field and then came the diagnosis: a broken arm with a timetable for return at six weeks

[RELATED: How Mycah Pittman’s injury affects Oregon]

Have you ever witnessed one positional group plagued with so many injuries and moving pieces? The Ducks were without grad transfer Juwan Johnson until five games into the season; Pittman suffered a shoulder injury that also kept him out until Cal; Jacob Breeland suffered a season-ending knee injury; Brenden Schooler entered the transfer protocol.

“We’re back to what we’ve done all season… That’s kind of how the season has been with those guys," said Offensive Coordinator Marcus Arroyo. "Those guys have done a great job. They’ll step right up. Next guy up.” 

The players next in line to step up in Pittman’s absence? Arroyo says, just like before, expect more from freshmen Josh Delgado and Bryan Addison as well as Spencer Webb to be moved around from receiver and high end.

On Monday, Cristobal said: “Justin Collins is a guy last year in this game proved to be very valuable, caught a slant down there and got us in the tight red zone at the end of the half. He’s been coming along. He’s coming off an ACL as well.”

Cristobal also mentioned Isaah Crocker, J.R Waters and Lance Wilhoite as options UO will explore. Although, Wilhoite and Waters are both coming off injuries and are likely not caught up to speed.

Overcoming injury is not east feat. It weighs on you both physically and mentally. This being Pittman’s second major injury of the season, senior grad transfer Juwan Johnson made sure to give his ‘Big Brother’ advice:

“It was heart breaking of course. I call him my ‘Little Brother.’ I got to check up on him and make sure he’s right because he just a freshman, they get in their head a lot. The one thing I got to do I keep his head high, keep his head above water, tell him to keep pushing. As long as he knows it’s not over because we still got some games left even if he isn’t back to still keep his head up. Honestly at the end of the day, there is more than football.”

 

Crunch time is nearing: Oregon is No. 6 in College Football Playoff

Crunch time is nearing: Oregon is No. 6 in College Football Playoff

The College Football Playoff committee released its third rankings this season and Oregon remains at No. 6. The Ducks (9-1, 7-0 Pac-12) are the third-highest one loss team ranked, behind SEC teams, Georgia and Alabama.

With three weeks left of the 2019 college football season, crunch time is nearing and the CFP picture is taking shape for Selection Sunday.

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

No. 1 LSU, No. 2 Ohio State and No. 3 Clemson are all undefeated with clear paths to the playoff. The fourth spot could get interesting with plenty of drama conceivable.

Patience required

It’s going to take patience for Oregon to break into the top four spots. On a nine-game winning streak, Oregon has secured a spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game as the North Division champion. Victories against upcoming opponents Arizona State and Oregon State won’t be enough to move the needle. 

The Ducks can make a real case as contenders on December 6th in Levi’s Stadium. A Pac-12 Title and a convincing win over a high-ranked Utah team would be the resume piece to make it interesting for the committee. Utah is currently ranked No. 7 in the CFB Playoff Poll.

Other teams fighting for the fourth spot?

No. 4 Georgia, No. 5 Alabama, No. 8 Penn State and No. 9 Oklahoma. Which means you can root for each of these teams to lose to boost Oregon’s berth chances. The Bulldogs still have to face Texas A&M and will be put to the test in the SEC Championship game vs. No. 1 LSU. No. 5 Alabama, without quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, still plays No. 15 Auburn. No. 8 Penn State plays No. 2 Ohio State this Saturday. No. 9 Oklahoma plays TCU and No. 21 Oklahoma State.

Root for two other Pac-12 teams in conference play

  • Utah to finish conference play 11-1 (remaining games at Arizona and vs. Colorado)
  • No. 23 USC to blow out UCLA in its final game to finish ranked (Gives Oregon another win over a ranked opponent).

Smell that?

It’s roses. If Oregon wins the Pac-12 title game and doesn’t receive a CFP berth, the Ducks get the conference’s automatic bid to the Rose Bowl. Not a bad Plan B!

The CFB Playoff committee’s protocol is mostly based on eye test and places an emphasis on four things if teams are comparable: 1. Championships won. 2. Strength of schedule. 3. Head-to-head competition (if it occurred). 4. Outcomes against common opponents.

There is a lot of football to be played that could sort out the top four, but for now, the Ducks are in a good spot to strike. 

Headstrong: Former Oregon football lineman Zach Okun's message to those struggling with mental health

Headstrong: Former Oregon football lineman Zach Okun's message to those struggling with mental health

The month of November is Men's Health Awareness Month. ‘The Movember Foundation’ uses November to bring awareness to various men’s physical and mental health issues, as well as support to those tackling prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health, and more.

Throughout this month, NBC Sports will be releasing numerous videos that feature sports superstars discussing the importance of mental health as well as how they approach the subject. 

___ 

Zach Okun received his first collegiate scholarship for athletics in eighth grade. He was more than 300 pounds and as tall as his teachers. There was already a path laid out before him regarding his future: football.

For those who play the game of football, a certain edge is required to be successful in such a violent sport. Okun was just that, but there was more than meets the eye. In August 2019 during a preseason practice, Okun suffered a severe concussion. 

He battled with depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts…

“I was terrified. That was my biggest fear, was people thinking less of me because of what was going on inside my head. To this day, if I think I did something wrong in class, I will think about it until it drives me insane or I fall asleep. 

Anything I did wrong was the end of the world. And that’s a hard way to live.”

Okun’s football career quickly ended, but his fight with mental health lives on to this day. He sought out therapy and now advocates to anyone who may be in a similar situation that he was and still is today.

He currently attends Santa Clara University and is pursuing a degree in law. 

Historically, quarterback Justin Herbert plays extremely well vs. ASU

Historically, quarterback Justin Herbert plays extremely well vs. ASU

Oregon (9-1, 7-0 Pac-12) has secured a spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game as the North Division champion and is in the running as a College Football Playoff contender. The Ducks have two conference games left and Arizona State (5-5, 2-5) is the next opponent they must beat. 

The Ducks look to stay unbeaten in conference play as they head to Tempe… Here are 10 numbers you need to know about the 4:30 p.m. kickoff at Sun Devil Stadium.

ON A HERBERT HIGH

Coming off a season-high 333 passing yards vs. Arizona, quarterback Justin Herbert is displaying incredible accuracy. He’s completed 70 percent of his passes in three-straight games, connecting on 62-of-84 (73.8) over that stretch. Herbert has historically played well against ASU. In his career against the Sun Devils, Herbert is 69-of-111 for 1,032 yards, nine TDs and two interceptions. His career-best 489 passing yards came as a freshman vs. ASU in 2016.

CAN YOU SAY CLUTCH?

The Ducks have outscored their opponents 56-20 in the second half on the road. Oregon is also 25-for-41 (.610) on third down conversions in the last three games.

SINGLE DIGITS

Oregon has held six opponents under 10 points, which leads the nation and is a program best since 1960.

SPREADING THE LOVE

Oregon has 19 players who have scored a touchdown and 19 players who have at least a half-sack, both of which lead the nation.

CRISTO-BALLIN!

A win would make Mario Cristobal the fourth head coach in program history to win 10 games in a season. 

KEEPING UP WITH THE JOHNSONS

Johnny Johnson III is coming off a four-catch performance vs. Arizona, including a 73-yard catch, the longest of his career and longest by a Duck in 2019. Juwan Johnson’s potential is also being realized, totaling 16 receptions, 263 yards and four touchdowns in the last three games. He led Oregon with five catches, one touchdown and 93 yards vs. Arizona.

THIBODEAUX TRAIN, FULL STEAM AHEAD

Freshman defensive tackle Kayvon Thibodeaux has 4.5 tackles for loss and three sacks in the last two games. He’s coming off a season-high three tackle for loss performance against Arizona. The highest rated recruit in program history, Thibodeaux ranks 4th among all freshman nationally in sacks(5.5).

STRONG SHANE

For the second time this season, Oregon left guard Shane Lemieux was named Pac-12 offensive lineman of the week. Against Arizona, Lemieux was the highest-graded (80.4) guard in the Pac-12 and third nationally. He has not allowed a hit, hurry or pressure on Herbert over 67 snaps and leads the Ducks with a season-high seven knockdowns.

DEVILS COME UP SHORT IN CORVALLIS

A failed two-point conversion proved to be the difference in Arizona’s almost-comeback win at Oregon State. ASU rallied from two touchdowns down late in the game but the Beavers beat the Sun Devils, 35-34.

ARIZONA STATE VS. THE RUN

ASU has held eight of its last 10 opponents to under 150 total rushing yards (151 vs. Utah, 217 vs. UCLA). Although, the Sun Devils pass defense ranks 115th in the nation.

How Mycah Pittman's injury affects Oregon

How Mycah Pittman's injury affects Oregon

The Oregon Ducks (9-1, 7-0 Pac-12) have lost one of their most dynamic offensive weapons most likely for the rest of the season, due to injury. Freshman wide receiver Mycah Pittman’s broken arm suffered in the first quarter of Oregon’s 34-6 win vs. Arizona will sideline him for six weeks and creates a need for more contributions.

Is Pittman done for the 2019 season?

Oregon Coach Mario Cristobal communicated the possibility of Pittman returning to play in the Ducks’ bowl game. The College Football Playoff semifinal (Dec. 28) or Rose Bowl (Jan. 1) are about six weeks out.

Already this season, Pittman rehabbed back from a broken collarbone that caused him to miss the opening four games.

"He’s proven before he’s a quick healer," Cristobal said. "Our training staff, our medical staff is second to none. I mean the very best in the country… And Mycah is a guy that attacks every opportunity to get better a hundred miles per hour. If anyone can heal quickly, it will be him, and if the timeline matches up, certainly that’s a consideration."

How does this impact the depth chart?

Oregon lists freshman Josh Delgado behind starter Jaylon Redd at slot receiver, in Pittman’s role. The Ducks moved Daewood Davis once again back on offense to add depth. Listed backups Davis, Josh Delgado and Bryan Addison will likely see increased playing time with Pittman out.

How can Oregon replace Pittman’s contributions?

In six games, Pittman has 14 receptions for 197 yards and two touchdowns. His speed and relentless tenacity will be missed from the receiving corps. 

Without Pittman, look for starting playmakers Johnny Johnson III, Juwan Johnson and Jaylon Redd to continue their positive progress in the passing game with quarterback Justin Herbert.

Redd leads the team with nine touchdowns and has caught multiple passes in 13 straight games. Johnny Johnson III is coming off a four-catch performance vs. Arizona, including a 73-yard catch, the longest of his career and longest by a Duck in 2019. Juwan Johnson’s potential is also being realized, totaling 16 receptions, 263 yards, and four touchdowns in the last three games. He led Oregon with five catches, one touchdown and 93 yards vs. Arizona.

Who else is a possible backup receiver?

“Justin Collins is a guy last year in this game proved to be very valuable, caught a slant down there and got us in the tight red zone at the end of the half,” Crisotbal said. “He’s been coming along. He’s coming off an ACL as well.”

Cristobal also mentioned Isaiah Crocker, J.R Waters and Lance Wilhoite as options UO will explore. Although, Wilhoite and Waters are both coming off injuries and are likely not caught up to speed.

The Ducks travel to Tempe for their final conference road trip to face the Arizona State Sun Devils (5-5, 2-5 Pac-12) at 4:30 p.m., Saturday.

Oregon wide receiver Mycah Pittman undergoes surgery, out six weeks

Oregon wide receiver Mycah Pittman undergoes surgery, out six weeks

Oregon freshman wide receiver Mycah Pittman appears to have had surgery after suffering a broken arm injury in the No. 6 Ducks 34-6 win over Arizona.  Oregon coach Mario Cristobal confirmed Pittman's injury is a broken arm that has a six-week timeline for return. Cristobal said a bowl game return is possible, because “he’s proven to be a quick healer.” Below is a Instagram post from Pittman's mother.

Pittman has posted on Twitter and Instagram, indicating he will be back in 2020:

View this post on Instagram

When it get ugly, you gotta find a way.

A post shared by MJP (@mycahpittman) on

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.

The freshman was escorted to the sideline and carted to the Oregon locker room and did not return.

Already this season, Pittman rehabbed back from a broken collarbone that caused him to miss the opening four games. In six games, Pittman has 14 receptions for 197 yards and two touchdowns. One of Oregon’s most dynamic receivers, the loss of Pittman is a serious blow to the Ducks and their Pac-12 title goals.

Which college football team should Duck fans be rooting for now?

Which college football team should Duck fans be rooting for now?

The Oregon Ducks may hold their College Football Playoff fate in their own hands right now. A lot of people believe if they win out, whip Utah in the Pac-12 championship game, they will punch their ticket to the national playoff.

But I’m not sure Auburn – the only team to have beaten the Ducks this season -- doesn’t still own a big piece of Oregon’s postseason fate. That’s because the Tigers meet Alabama on 11/30 in a crucial SEC game. The Crimson Tide, of course, will be playing without its All-America quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who is out for the season. If ‘Bama can somehow figure out a way to win at Auburn without Tagovailoa, I would guess it has a real shot at finishing ahead of the Ducks in the rankings.

Oregon lost 29-21 to Auburn on a neutral field with nine seconds to go, after leading all the way. But the Ducks had an edge in that game, playing the Tigers in the very first college game for Auburn’s true-freshman  starting quarterback Bo Nix. And although Nix was terrific late in the game, he was shaky early and Oregon didn’t take full advantage of that. If Alabama can beat the Tigers on the road, that would certainly make it easier for the committee to pick the Tide over the Ducks.

And I think the big problem for the Ducks is that Alabama is, well, Alabama. That game a week ago vs. LSU drew a terrific television rating and that counts for something, I would guess. Even though it’s not supposed to count.

Oregon must overcome the Alabama aura and also hope that Georgia doesn’t knock off LSU in the SEC championship game, which would probably push both those teams into the final four. along with Clemson and Ohio State.

Can the Ducks get into the final four? Yes, I think so. But remember, the final four is a football’s version of a dog show. It’s all about appearances. You better be ready to look charming, cute, adorable, etc. when the judges are looking.

You must not only be the best team, you have to look good doing it. And that’s not going to be easy, especially coming out of the Pac-12, where I believe it’s difficult for teams to improve throughout the long season because the caliber of opposition is often not going to be challenging. Just last week, Oregon wasn’t at its best but Arizona wasn’t good enough to even make the game close.

A lot still has to go Oregon’s way -- including Auburn putting a good beating on Alabama next week.

Injury updates to Mycah Pittman, CJ Verdell from Mario Cristobal

Injury updates to Mycah Pittman, CJ Verdell from Mario Cristobal

No. 6 Oregon (9-1, 7-0 Pac-12) defeated Arizona 34-6 on Saturday night to officially claim the Pac-12 North crown and lock in a spot in the Pac-12 title game in December.

Before the Ducks can think that far ahead, they must also take care of business with their remaining schedule: at Arizona State and vs. Oregon State. 

Oregon Coach Mario Cristobal gave an injury update to true freshman wide receiver Mycah Pittman as well as sophomore running back CJ Verdell, who both left the game in the first half.

Mycah Pittman - right wrist

“Mycah hurt his arm. The severity of it, we’ll know but it’s a pretty good shot, everyone saw it on film. He took a pretty good hit there when he had his hand planted in the ground.”

Pittman tweeted the following this morning, further details have not been released:

CJ Verdell - arm

“CJ was more of a stinger. He got hyper-extended so he just wanted to get full strength back in his arm by the end of the game. He was back to full strength,” said Cristobal.

Sophomore running back Travis Dye finished with 14 attempts for 71 yards, but it was Darrian Felix, the back that has battled injury throughout his Oregon career, who made an appearance on Saturday and recorded 11 attempts for 49 yards.

More to come from Cristobal on the progress of these players when he gets a report.

MORE ON THE DUCKS

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

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

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.