Oregon Ducks

Ducks' message to fans: Make Autzen the loudest it has ever been

Ducks' message to fans: Make Autzen the loudest it has ever been

It's "Husky Hate Week" for Oregon fans. Saturday marks the 111th rivalry game between Oregon and Washington, officially named "The Border War".

The No. 17 Ducks play host to the No. 7 Huskies, but the environment in Autzen Stadium is expected to be anything but welcoming. Washington has crushed Oregon the past two games by a combined score of 108-24. Duck fans haven't forgotten last time the Huskies came into Eugene in 2016 and put a 70-point beat down on the Ducks, and neither has the Oregon football program. 

When the Huskies return to Eugene this Saturday, the Ducks have asked fans to do their part to make Autzen the loudest it's ever been. 

"It provides such an advantage to us when Autzen comes to life like it does on game days," said Oregon coach Mario Cristobal. 

Redshirt running back CJ Verdell's message to fans is simple. "Come out there, be loud, and  try to break the decimal record," said Verdell. 

Senior running back Tony Brooks-James, one of the oldest players on the team, revels in the spirit of the rivalry. Just like you, Brooks-James gets a chuckle from memes he sees on Twitter. Here are some of the best ones I've seen this week:

“It’s as important as it gets,” Cristobal said. “The intensity of a rivalry like this is through the roof, it’s off the charts. You could talk about it, write about it, explain it, and it still doesn’t capture the true fire and intensity, the true passion that goes behind something like this.

A little more history... The Ducks had a 12 game winning streak that started in 2004 and ended in 2015. In Eugene against Washington, Oregon holds a 21-13-2 record, and an all-time record of 45-60-5.

Here are 8 more numbers you need to know about the rivalry. 

Report: Former Oregon LB Troy Dye played multiple games with torn meniscus

Report: Former Oregon LB Troy Dye played multiple games with torn meniscus

Troy Dye, the Oregon Ducks leading tackler and former defensive captain, just proved he's not just mentally tough, but physically tough too. 

After suffering a broken thumb vs. Washington, in which he had it put in a cast, then broke the cast and finished the game with all while blood trickled down his arm in a post-game interview, James Crepea of The Oregonian revealed Dye also played with torn meniscus in the Rose Bowl.

Teammate Jordon Scott, however, says Dye actually had the meniscus injury for more than a game.

“Last 4-5*,” Scott corrected.

That means Dye could have been playing with the torn meniscus dating back to early November. This might provide some explanation for why Dye pulled out of the Senior Bowl a week before the event.

Despite his pain, Dye never missed a practice at Oregon and was available during open periods of practice leading up to the Rose Bowl. 

As a four-year starter, Dye helped take a 4-8 team in 2016, that was without a bowl game, to a 12-2 season his senior year, which included a Pac-12 Championship and Rose Bowl victory. Dye finished his 2019 campaign with 84 tackles, 2.5 sacks, two interceptions and two forced fumbles. 

Dye is anticipated to be a Day 2 selection in the NFL Draft come April. Whether he will be able to participate in the NFL Combine and take part in any on-field drills or tests this week, remains unknown. 

Justin Herbert aiming to shed same pre-draft labels as Marcus Mariota

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USATI

Justin Herbert aiming to shed same pre-draft labels as Marcus Mariota

INDIANAPOLIS – Something struck me during the latest Talkin’ Seahawks Podcast while Bleacher Report’s senior NFL Draft analyst Matt Miller was breaking down Justin Herbert.

Among the knocks against Herbert includes a sentiment that the former Oregon QB might not be vocal enough to lead an NFL offense. That’s a large part of the conversation surrounding Herbert this week at the NFL Combine.

“He’s got to go in and prove that he’s the type of leader that teams want,” Miller told NBC Sports Northwest. “Those are the knocks that you hear about him, that he’s kind of quiet and might be a little reserved. You don’t have to be Baker Mayfield, but you have to be a leader at quarterback. I think he has to answer those questions.”

That sounds awfully similar to what Marcus Mariota’s critics said about him during the pre-draft process back in 2015. Remember Mariota was also thought by some to be too quiet to warrant a top five pick, especially when compared to the gregarious Jameis Winston.

Mariota ended up going No. 2 overall and quickly became the beloved leader of the Tennessee Titans. He ultimately faltered, was replaced by Ryan Tannehill in 2019 and now faces an uncertain future, but all of that resulted because he failed to get the job done from a physical standpoint.

And yet here we are having the same conversations about another Ducks signal caller. They will continue as Herbert leaned into the criticism during his Combine press conference.

“When I showed up (at Oregon), I was shy and didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes, and the quarterback can’t be that,” Herbert said. “To be a successful team, you have to have a quarterback that’s himself. He’s got to be genuine and real, and he needs to demand from his offense, from the team, what he needs to get out of them. I’ve done a better job of being vocal, stepping up and stepping out of my comfort zone.”

Herbert is coming off of a fantastic senior season in 2019 where he posted 3,471 yards, 32 touchdowns and just six interceptions. He also impressed as a runner with four additional scores on the ground. Herbert led Oregon to a 12-2 season that culminated in a Rose Bowl victory against Wisconsin.

He carried that momentum into a successful week down in Mobile, Ala., back in January.

“When I watched him at the Senior Bowl, I watched him interact with guys. I watched guys come up to him,” NFL Network’s Charles Davis told NBC Sports Northwest. “I think (the criticisms) might be a little overblown. It feels like it’s not as bad as many people think.

“Quiet people can be competitors, too.”

Herbert measured in at 6-foot-6, 236 pounds with 10-inch hands. He’s got all the size and physical tools to be a franchise quarterback, which is why he’s projected to be a top-10 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. That doesn’t change the fact that teams will grill him during interviews on his capacity as a leader.

“I’m a different person,” Herbert told reporters. “I think the kid that showed up at the University of Oregon isn’t me anymore. There are aspects of my game that have changed. I’ve become more vocal. I’ve become more outgoing and there are things you have to do to be a quarterback and the way a quarterback carries himself. I think I’ve done a great job of becoming that over these past four years.”

Herbert’s progress is notable, and all that ultimately matters is that he has the confidence to get the job done in the NFL. He said he hasn’t spoken with Mariota during the pre-draft process but the two have established a friendship in recent years.

Of note, between Mariota and any other quarterback prospect who once carried the label of being “too quiet,” Davis hasn’t seen one fail in the NFL for that reason.

“I’ve never seen that, and I’ve never felt that way about head coaches, but they get that, too. Remember Tony Dungy, his critics said he didn’t have the fire to win the big one,” Davis said.

The more legitimate questions about Herbert pertain to his transition to a pro-style offense. Herbert, as well as most other QB prospects for that matter, didn’t operate in a huddle or take snaps from under center in college.

But again, Herbert remains confident in his NFL readiness.

“I think the (Oregon) offense did a great job of preparing us for the NFL, and a lot of stuff fell on me to flip protections (and) to change runs,” Herbert said.

The former Duck figures to be the top QB prospect working out this week in Indianapolis. Joe Burrow announced that he won’t be throwing at the Combine, and Tua Tagovailoa is still recovering from a hip injury. That gives Herbert a prime opportunity to steal headlines and cement himself as the third quarterback on draft boards.

“I want to come out here and I want to do everything, have fun, get better, learn,” Herbert said. “I think it’s all about the long haul so anything I can do to extend my game is what I’m going to do.”

How and when to watch the Oregon Ducks at the NFL Combine

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USATI

How and when to watch the Oregon Ducks at the NFL Combine

A record-tying seven former Oregon standouts will take part in this week’s 2020 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. The seven Oregon participants equal the program’s most set three other times in 2007, 2012 and 2015.

[RELATED]: Justin Herbert wants to prove he's a competitor at NFL Scouting Combine

A program record six offensive players will represent Oregon over the first part of the week, highlighted by Rose Bowl MVP and projected first round QB Justin Herbert. The six offensive players is tied for the fourth most from one program at this year’s event. Oregon is also one of four programs with three or more offensive linemen at the combine.

HOW TO WATCH

The NFL Network and NFL.com are providing live coverage of on-field drills Thursday, February 27 to Sunday, March 1. The coverage will begin at 1 p.m. PT on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. on Sunday.

OREGON PARTICIPANT DETAILS & SCHEDULE

Name                                       On-Field Day          Pos.                 Jersey #                  Group #
Jacob Breeland                       Thursday                   TE                     TE02                           1
Justin Herbert                         Thursday                   QB                    QB07                          2

Juwan Johnson                        Thursday                   WR                   WO31                         3

Jake Hanson                             Friday                        OL                     OL17                          4

Shane Lemieux                        Friday                        OL                     OL28                          5

Calvin Throckmorton              Friday                        OL                     OL48                          5

Troy Dye                                   Saturday                    LB                     LB14                           9

Sunday, February 23

·         TE Jacob Breeland – Arrive in Indianapolis, orientation and interviews

·         QB Justin Herbert – Arrive in Indianapolis, orientation and interviews

·         WR Juwan Johnson – Arrive in Indianapolis, orientation and interviews

Monday, February 24

·         TE Jacob Breeland – Measurements, medical pre-exam, x-rays, orientation and interviews

·         QB Justin Herbert - Measurements, medical pre-exam, x-rays, orientation and interviews

·         WR Juwan Johnson - Measurements, medical pre-exam, x-rays, orientation and interviews

·         OL Jake Hanson – Arrive in Indianapolis, x-rays, orientation and interviews

·         OL Shane Lemieux – Arrive in Indianapolis, x-rays, orientation and interviews

·         OL Calvin Throckmorton - Arrive in Indianapolis, x-rays, orientation and interviews

Tuesday, February 25

·         TE Jacob Breeland – Media interviews, medical examinations, testing and interviews

·         QB Justin Herbert – Media interviews, medical examinations, testing and interviews

·         WR Juwan Johnson - Media interviews, medical examinations, testing and interviews

·         OL  Jake Hanson – Measurements, medical pre-exam, orientation and interviews

·         OL Shane Lemieux - Measurements, medical pre-exam, orientation and interviews

·         OL Calvin Throckmorton - Measurements, medical pre-exam, orientation and interviews

·         LB Troy Dye – Arrive in Indianapolis, x-rays, orientation and interviews

Wednesday, February 26

·         TE Jacob Breeland – Bench press (2:30 p.m.), psychological testing, NFLPA meeting and interviews

·         QB Justin Herbert – Bench press (12:30 p.m.), psychological testing, NFLPA meeting and interviews

·         WR Juwan Johnson – Bench press (12:30 or 1:30 p.m.), psychological testing, NFLPA meeting and interviews

·         OL Jake Hanson - Media interviews, medical examinations, testing and interviews

·         OL Shane Lemieux - Media interviews, medical examinations, testing and interviews

·         OL Calvin Throckmorton – Media interviews, medical examinations, testing and interviews

·         OL Troy Dye - Measurements, medical pre-exam, orientation and interviews

Thursday, February 27

·         TE Jacob Breeland – Will not participate in on-field drills.

·         QB Justin Herbert – On-field drills (Vert/Broad Jump – 2 p.m., 40-yard dash – 2:30 p.m., Position Drills – 3:30 p.m., 3-Cone/Shuttle – 5 p.m.)

·         WR Juwan Johnson – On-field drills (Vert/Broad Jump – 3:30 p.m., 40-yard dash – 5 p.m., Position Drills – 6 p.m., 3-Cone/Shuttle – 7:30 p.m.)

·         OL Jake Hanson – Bench press (12:30 or 1:30 p.m.), psychological testing, NFLPA meeting and interviews

·         OL Shane Lemieux – Bench press (12:30 or 1:30 p.m.), psychological testing, NFLPA meeting and interviews

·         OL Calvin Throckmorton – Bench press (12:30 or 1:30 p.m.), psychological testing, NFLPA meeting and interviews

·         LB Troy Dye – Media interviews, medical examinations, testing and interviews

Friday, February 28

·         Jake Hanson – On-field drills (40-yard dash – 1 p.m., Position Drills – 1:30 p.m., Vert/Broad Jump – 2:30 p.m., 3-Cone/Shuttle – 3:30 p.m.)

·         OL Shane Lemieux – On-field drills (Vert/Broad Jump – 2 p.m., 40-yard dash – 2:30 p.m., Position Drills – 3:30 p.m., 3-Cone/Shuttle – 4:30 p.m.)

·         OL Calvin Throckmorton – On-field drills (Vert/Broad Jump – 2 p.m., 40-yard dash – 2:30 p.m., Position Drills – 3:30 p.m., 3-Cone/Shuttle – 4:30 p.m.)

·         LB Troy Dye – Bench press (2:30 p.m.), psychological testing, NFLPA meeting and interviews

Saturday, February 29

·         LB Troy Dye – On-field drills (Vert/Broad Jump – 3:30 p.m., 40-yard dash – 4:30 p.m., Position Drills – 5:30 p.m., 3-Cone/Shuttle – 6:30 p.m.)

Ducks, Dana Altman hopeful for N'Faly Dante's return vs. Oregon State on Thursday

Ducks, Dana Altman hopeful for N'Faly Dante's return vs. Oregon State on Thursday

Good news coming out of Eugene on Tuesday that Ducks fans have been waiting to hear: Oregon men’s basketball center N’Faly Dante is eyeing his return to the court.

His return could come as soon as Thursday against visiting Oregon State in chapter two of this season's Civil War series.

Oregon head coach Dana Altman and senior point guard Payton Pritchard met with members of the media on Tuesday at Matthew Knight Arena: 

Dante was seen moving around and in warm up gear before tipping off against the Arizona Wildcats last Saturday. Dante did not play in the game.

The 6-foot-11 center from Bamako, Mali has been battling knee tendinitis. The last game he played for Oregon was back on Jan. 8 against the University of Washington up in Seattle, WA. In the nine appearances for the Ducks, he averaged 6.2 points and 2.7 rebounds and totaled six blocks. While those numbers seem small, the big man just needs time and minutes. 

He is very athletic.

In their first Civil War meeting, the Ducks had trouble getting into the paint from any position on the court: guards, bigs, anything. Pritchard talked about it after the game. Oregon State's Kylor Kelley, the 7-foot senior forward, recorded 14 points, seven rebounds and two blocks. Having Dante on the court, with his sheer size and athleticism alone, would be a dominating presence for the Ducks.

Justin Herbert wants to prove he’s a competitor at NFL Scouting Combine

Justin Herbert wants to prove he’s a competitor at NFL Scouting Combine

Former Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert knows he has a lot to prove before the NFL Draft on April 23.

He needs to showcase his versatility at quarterback. He needs to demonstrate how quickly he can take information from his meetings to the field. And he needs to prove to teams that despite the fact he’s never been the prototypical natural-born leader, that won’t matter.

But of all the areas Herbert wants to show teams at the NFL Scouting Combine this week, it’s his competitive nature he hopes to put on full display.

“I want to come out here, I want to do everything,” Herbert told reporters on Tuesday. “Have fun, get better, learn, I think it’s all about the long haul. Anything that I can do to extend my game is what I’m going to do.”

On his list of “everything,” Herbert confirmed he will throw during NFL Scouting Combine Drills. This will give him an opportunity to showcase his robust arm strength and improve his draft stock in the pre-draft process.

Herbert won’t fit into the clichéd mold some teams are looking for at the combine, but he will likely be scooped up by a team looking for the next face of the franchise. His arsenal of skills and his high football IQ, however, won’t guarantee that he’ll start on an NFL team from Day 1. Herbert may not even be ready to play immediately.

"I've never played a down in the NFL,” Herbert said. “I couldn't tell you what the speed of the game is like. I've watched as much as I could and I feel confident with my abilities but I've never played in the NFL before, so to give you an answer whether I could play right now, I don't think that would be in my best interest."

Herbert played four years at Oregon, throwing for 3,471 yards, 32 touchdowns and six interceptions on 66.8 percent completion across 14 games for the 12-2 Ducks. His last game at Oregon was a 28-27 win over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. He was recently named MVP at the Senior Bowl in January.

Herbert is currently projected to be the third quarterback taken off the board come April behind LSU’s Joe Burrow and Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, but when it comes down to it, Herbert says he'll just be satisfied to hear his name called. 

“Anywhere I go, I’ll be happy,” Herbert said. “I know that sounds cheesy and politically correct, but it’s true.”

Alabama reportedly targeting Oregon Strength and Conditioning Coordinator Aaron Feld

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NBCSNW

Alabama reportedly targeting Oregon Strength and Conditioning Coordinator Aaron Feld

You can hear Aaron Feld coming from a mile away. He is the loudest person in the room, or in this case, on the football field.

He's vibrant, rambunctious You can find him screaming “Let’s go!” and giving out high fives as the Oregon Ducks football team takes the field and during early morning practices and lift sessions. 

His energy is infectious, contagious. His mustache and bulging biceps are unmistakable. He is Oregon’s Head Strength and Conditioning Coordinator and he is very good at his job. 

So good, in fact, that he is in high-demand for other programs across the country.

There is rumored interest in Feld from the Alabama Crimson Tide, according to Jon Wilner of the Pac-12 hotline newsletter, who just lost their Strength and Conditioning Coordinator Scott Cochran to the Georgia Bulldogs.

Here is how Feld is already connected to Alabama:

COACHING EXPERIENCE

2012-2013, UAB: Assistant Strength Coach (football) & Head Strength Coach (women’s basketball)

2013-2014, Alabama: Volunteer Strength Coach (football)

2014-2015, North Alabama: Head Strength Coach (all sports)

2015-2017, Georgia: Assistant Director of Strength and Conditioning (football)

2017-present, Oregon: Head Football Strength and Conditioning Coordinator

Feld graduated from Mississippi State University. He has certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association and the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association.

While this is just a rumor, it would be a huge blow to the Oregon football program. His Fourth Quarter program in the offseason has paid off for the Ducks in terms of staying in shape and increasing both size and speed when the season rolls around. Also, his energy is contagious. Flex Friday's, yelling and jumping around, leading before practice stretching, he does it all for the Ducks to limit injury and keep the Ducks in football shape.

Feld is the 27th highest paid strength and conditioning coach in the nation, third in the Pac-12 conference. He made $310,000 in 2019 and had a max bonus of $93,000.

It would be a big loss indeed.

 

Sabrina Ionescu’s record setting night was perfectly poetic in honor of Kobe and Gigi Bryant

Sabrina Ionescu’s record setting night was perfectly poetic in honor of Kobe and Gigi Bryant

Sabrina Ionescu's day started with speaking at her friend's memorial service.

She gave a touching speech at Staples Center in front of thousands and shared the wonderful memories she had with Kobe and Gigi Bryant.

She then hopped on a short flight north where the No. 3 Oregon Ducks were waiting for her. So was No. 4 Stanford. It was a top-5 showdown on a Monday night in Palo Alto with the Ducks looking to clinch a share of the Pac-12 title, while Stanford was looking for revenge.

Ionescu didn't just record her 26th career triple double, but she also made history becoming the first NCAA player to reach 2,000 points, 1,000 assists and 1,000 rebounds. She needed nine rebounds coming into the game to complete the triple threat. She did and it is awesome.

On 2-24-20, the combined numbers of Gigi (2), Kobe (24), and Sabrina (20), Ionescu made history! 

It is perfectly poetic.

Here is how social media reacted to this unbelieveable milestone:

Instant Analysis: No. 3 Oregon clinches share of Pac-12 title with win over No. 4 Stanford

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OregonWBB Twitter

Instant Analysis: No. 3 Oregon clinches share of Pac-12 title with win over No. 4 Stanford

The Stanford Cardinal were ready to avenge their 32-point loss from back in Eugene on Jan. 16. They changed up their defensive scheme, leaving Oregon’s Minyon Moore open on the offensive end, double teaming Ruthy Hebard down low and clogging up driving lanes.

That didn’t last long.

The Ducks put the ball in Sabrina Ionescu’s hands as she fed it to the hot hand, Satou Sabally.

On a night where Ionescu made history in more ways than one, the No. 3 Oregon Ducks (26-2, 15-1 Pac-12) officially clinched a share of the Pac-12 conference title with the win over No. 4 Stanford (24-4, 13-3 Pac-12) in Palo Alto, California.

FINAL SCORE: Oregon 74, Stanford 66

Here are three quick takeaways from the game:

1. EARLY DEFENSE / POOR SHOOTING

The Ducks quickly jumped out to a 10-point lead after going on an 11-0 run to close out the first quarter. It was a nine minute scoring drought for Stanford. Junior Satou Sabally got the hot hand early hitting from both three-point range as well as AND-1 opportunities.

Stanford’s poor shooting start didn’t help the Cardinal either, hitting just 3-for-17 in the first quarter alone.

2. SATOU SABALLY

The 6-foot-4 forward has been a matchup nightmare all season long. She can stretch the floor wide with her sharp shooting which leaves room for her to drive the ball. 

Sabally brought her offensive skill and kept the Ducks afloat giving them a boost and a quick 10-point lead. She finished with 27 points hitting 10-for-17 from the field and nine rebounds.

3. THE BEST EVER, SABRINA IONESCU

Coming into Monday’s game, Sabrina Ionescu needed nine rebounds to reach a stat that no other has ever done before. She got all nine within three quarters. 

On her ninth rebound, Ionescu became the first player in NCAA history to record 2,000 points, 1,000 assists and 1,000 rebounds.

If those numbers aren’t crazy enough, how about recording her 26th career triple-double, too? Ionescu records back-to-back triple-doubles and finished with 21 points, 12 assists and 12 rebounds in the win.

It is her first against a top-10 opponent and eighth this season.

UP NEXT: The Ducks finally return home to host the Washington schools, starting with Washington State (11-17, 4-12 Pac-12) on Friday, Feb. 28 at 8 p.m. (PT) in Eugene, Oregon.