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.