Oregon Ducks

How Brenden Schooler and Mycah Pittman's return boosts Oregon's passing attack

How Brenden Schooler and Mycah Pittman's return boosts Oregon's passing attack

Senior Brenden Schooler and freshman Mycah Pittman will take the field for the first time this season in No 13. Oregon’s game against California (4-1, 1-1 Pac-12) this Saturday night (5 p.m., FOX).

“Both Brenden and Mycah have been cleared, they have practiced all week, and they will play,” Oregon Coach Mario Cristobal told reporters after practice Wednesday morning. “They looked real good today. ... They look like they are back to normal. We will practice again the next couple days and figure out a rotation, but you can expect them to play.”

Cristobal also added that senior grad transfer Juwan Johnson is “still progressing.” Johnson has yet to play due to a calf injury.

Schooler returns after rehabbing a foot injury sustained in fall camp. He is listed as a co-starter alongside Bryan Addison. His impact will be felt on the offense, special teams, and the intangibles through his veteran leadership.

Pittman will make his highly anticipated collegiate debut after rehabbing a shoulder injury sustained in fall camp. Before the injury, he was turning heads and splitting first team reps at slot receiver. Pittman has strong hands, a running back body, and excels at getting separation

“He’s got that swagger, he knows who he is, his potential, but he can ball too,” Oregon safety Jevon Holland said. “He’s resilient and he’s got fire in his belly. He’s got a lot of what we need in the receiver position and on the team, period. Especially from a young guy to push the older guys.”

How will the return of these two explosive targets change the passing attack?

It boosts a position group that was spread thin through Oregon’s (3-1, 1-0) first four games. It adds options for quarterback Justin Herbert and will undoubtedly enhance the passing attack in short, intermediate routes and down the field. The biggest area of improvement I expect will come in offensive plays of 20 or more yards. The Ducks’ 14 passing plays of 20-plus yards currently ranks 47th nationally. Herbert’s arm is capable plus Arroyo laments not attempting more downfield passes to Oregon’s inexperienced receivers in the Ducks’ loss to Auburn in week one. Since the defeat, the Ducks’ explosion plays have increased, in particular to tight end Jacob Breeland and wide receiver Johnny Johnson III.

With Pittman’s hands and Schooler’s speed, expect a more explosive and exciting Oregon offense that will stretch the field against the Bears.

 

Instant Analysis: Richardson, Pritchard heat up from deep; Ducks complete sweep over Utah

Instant Analysis: Richardson, Pritchard heat up from deep; Ducks complete sweep over Utah

It is fitting that on the same night as the 2020 NBA All-Star game, which features nothing but dunks and three-pointers, the No. 17 Oregon Ducks would light it up from downtown.

A combined 10-for-15 from behind the arc in the first half, gave the Ducks a nice 10+ point cushion over the visiting Utah Utes (14-11, 5-8 Pac-12). 

No. 17 Oregon (20-6, 9-4 Pac-12) picks up another win to remain at the top in the Pac-12 conference standings.

FINAL SCORE: Utah 62, Oregon 80

Here are three quick takeaways from the game:

1. DUCKS LIGHT IT UP FROM DEEP

The first half was looking a lot like the 2020 NBA All-Star game, well on one side. The Ducks lit it up from three-point range, hitting 10-of-15 (66.7%) as a team in the first half alone which helped create a 14-point lead going into halftime.

Sophomore Will Richardson got it started early hitting 3-for-3 and senior Payton Pritchard hit 5-for-6 in the first half.

2. THE GUARD-PLAY OF WILL RICHARDSON, PYATON PRITCHARD

The dynamic duo was at it again.

The 6-foot-5, 180-pound sophomore guard, Will Richardson, is sneaky quick and can shift his way into the paint, which he did so often against the Utes. He sliced-and-diced his way in and dished the ball off to a cutting defender. 

Richardson finished with 18 points, hitting 4-for-4 from three-point range, grabbed six rebounds and dished out six assists. It was an all-around performance from Richardson.

Pritchard, who is in National Player of the Year conversations, added 25 points off 5-for-9 from 3-PT range.

3. PATTERSON A SPARK OFF THE BENCH

Athleticism isn’t an issue when it comes to Addison Patterson.

The 6-foot-6 freshman is a four-star recruit who reclassified into the class of 2019 to play for Dana Altman and the Ducks this season. Against Utah, he was impressive on both ends of the court with ridiculous blocks on one end followed by powerful dunks on the other. He finished with 10 points, three assists and two rebounds off the bench.

UP NEXT: The Ducks hit the road for the desert to face Arizona State on Thursday, Feb. 20, tip-off at 6 p.m. (PT) in Tempe, Arizona.

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.