Mario Cristobal confident in tackling ‘greater beasts’ than ever before


We have the ‘what’: A Pac-12 conference that is now gearing up for the start of the season.

Five division games, one crossover, and one Conference Championship game.

But before that, there is work to be done and guidelines to follow.

Oregon head football coach Mario Cristobal outlined those on Friday during a press conference with members of local media over Zoom. The Ducks will have two weeks of strength and conditioning, one hour of walk-through’s with a football, daily meetings, and skill instruction that is provided by the strength and conditioning program before the Ducks move into a practice phase and training camp.

Then the first full padded practice will be on Friday, October 9.

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Seahawks Podcast with host Joe Fann and special guest David Helman].

We have the ‘when’: A football schedule that will start on Friday, November 6.

Now, let’s talk about the who.

A few key pieces of Oregon’s 2019 Pac-12 championship and Rose Bowl victory run last season have opted out of the upcoming season. When the Pac-12 elected to postpone all fall sports activities in 2020 back on August 11, corners Deommodore Lenoir and Thomas Graham Jr. decided to opt out and declare for the 2021 NFL Draft. So did projected top-5 pick Penei Sewell.

Now that the season has an official start date, will Lenoir or Graham Jr. choose to opt back in? Sewell has hired an agent and decided that now is the right time to pursue his NFL dreams and Cristobal thinks so too.


But what about the rest of the team?

“All our guys are in town and we’re having conversations with all the guys regarding their possibilities and opportunities in the NFL,” said Cristobal. “Right now, there’s nothing else to report, but I think it’s only fair to sit down with everybody and never take anything for granted and really dig deep into how they feel now now that there’s a season laid out, how they feel about it. And come to a decision that’s best for them.”

The decision to either declare for the draft or opt back in will come with time. Right now, Cristobal and the rest of the staff will also focus on the pieces currently on the roster.

The Ducks have to replace four-year starters quarterback Justin Herbert and linebacker Troy Dye as well as the totality of the offensive line. Big pieces to fill and lots of needed competition to let loose in these next six weeks.

Rosters change all the time. Culture doesn’t. 

“How do you balance excitement, optimism, all that stuff? I don’t think it ever changes quite honestly. Not with what has come into the program and not what is coming into the program as well. I think everyone will have to deal with type of hit to the depth chart at a particular position. 

It’s usually the nature of the beast in football and this particular season, it’s an even greater one. One that people are going to have to get creative. You’re going to have to coach at your very best. That’s exciting. It really is. Have trust and confidence in your players.

Mario Cristobal

The championship mentality is contagious in Eugene.