Oregon Ducks

Meet Mycah Pittman, the Oregon freshman with "fire in his belly"

Meet Mycah Pittman, the Oregon freshman with "fire in his belly"

How can Oregon make the most of quarterback Justin Herbert’s final season as a Duck? One fresh-faced Duck receiver is working on going from starstruck to filling big shoes. As one of the highest rated receivers to sign with Oregon, freshman Mycah Pittman has made his presence felt and is already impacting the Duck offense.

The battle to replace former leading receiver Dillon Mitchell’s production (75 receptions for 1,184 yards) will be on full display Saturday in Eugene at the Oregon football spring game.

Pittman, a consensus four-star recruit and top three wide receiver from California, has been playing in the slot during spring practices with his eye on expanding his role. His speed is a major asset but his strong hands have impressed teammates and coaches.

“He’s got that swagger, he knows who he is, his potential, but he can ball too,” 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.”

Dropped passes aren’t an issue for Pittman. “Yea, you will rarely see me drop a pass,” Pittman said before correcting himself. “You wont see that. Let’s leave it at that.

“I never double catch the ball, I’ll make sure I stay after practice if I need to get it right,” Pittman said after Tuesday’s practice.  

Every day for two months, Pittman spent his hands deep in a bucket of rice, an “old school workout” exercising his hands to increase strength and grip.

Pittman already has a grasp on more than 90 percent of Oregon’s playbook. He enrolled early to get a head start on executing alignments, routes and developing a connection with Herbert. March 29 was his first day, but his Oregon career started long before that. Before and after high school, Pittman hit the books to study Oregon’s offense for a total of three hours a day. He took to the whiteboard to work on the X’s and O’s and used up five dry erase markers.

“I didn’t see any type of transition from him,” La’Mar Winston Jr. said. “He was ready to go from the first practice, first play, first catch. Strong hands, nice route runner.”

Pittman was in awe when describing catching passes from Herbert. “I caught my first pass on a little out route from Justin Herbert and I was like, ‘Yo, Justin Herbert just threw me the ball!’” Pittman said. “This is the No. 1 pick, I’ve seen this guy on TV, and he’s bigger in person. It’s pretty cool. He’s a very humble guy.”

His preparation and attention to detail has paid off. Within three weeks, Pittman has turned heads with flashy grabs from Herbert and backup quarterback Tyler Shough, elevated the play of the position group as a whole and developed a friendship with another newcomer who has already climbed the depth chart, Juwan Johnson.

Although new to the Oregon roster, Johnson has experience on his side, playing in 16 more games than the Ducks’ most veteran wide receiver, Brenden Schooler (21 games).

“He’s a great kid ultimately. He just wants to learn," said Johnson on his first impression of Pittman. “I sort of took him under my wing when he got here. He was sort of lost and eager to learn the plays. So we kind of picked up the plays together and did it that way. It was great for both of us, very beneficial. I had no idea his dad was Michael Pittman until last week.”

The 5-foot-11, 195-pound athlete from Calabasas High School has football in his blood. His father Michael Pittman was a productive NFL running back for a decade and won a Super Bowl ring with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Mycah lived in Florida for 10 years.

When it comes to drawbacks of the freshman, the Ducks don’t have much to say. Although, Pittman says cherry jelly beans are a junk food weakness. Totally relatable.

The depth chart is open and Pittman is ready to fight for a starting spot.  He doesn’t feel pressure for Saturday, to play in Autzen Stadium with fans watching for the first time, “I am more excited when there are more people to see me."

CJ Verdell makes Pac-12 Championship history and smells like roses

CJ Verdell makes Pac-12 Championship history and smells like roses

Oregon running back CJ Verdell sprinted across the field at rainy Levi’s Stadium leaving a sprinkle of brown mud flipping from his white Nike cleats.

After barreling into the end zone for three scores in Oregon’s upset victory over No. 5 Utah, Verdell was dashing to the stage, where his teammates awaited, dancing with confetti, alongside the Duck mascot and second year head coach Mario Cristobal.

The sophomore grabbed a ‘Pac-12 Champions’ adorned hat and t-shirt before presented with the Most Valuable Player trophy.

The Ducks won their first Pac-12 Championship since 2014, earning the conference’s automatic berth to the Rose Bowl, by beating Utah 37-15. They snapped Utah’s eight-game winning streak and ended the Utes’ College Football Playoff dream.

Quite frankly, I think maybe these guys all week long got a little bit tired of hearing we weren't the more physical team. It gives you a little bit of an edge. --Cristobal 

Against the nation’s No. 1 rushing defense, Verdell made history. The Utes entered the game allowing an average of 56.3 yards per game, with only one team to rush for over 100 yards. Verdell doubled that amount, alone, with 208 yards, including a 70-yard touchdown that was the longest run in Pac-12 title game history.

How did Verdell feel about being in Utah’s shadow, leading up to the game?

Definitely put a little chip on our shoulders. We try not to focus on the outside noise too much. Hearing they're the most physical team in the Pac-12 made us want to come out here and work even more harder. --Verdell

The clutch performance sent Verdell over the edge to surpass 1,000 rushing yards for the second-consecutive season, becoming the fifth Oregon running back to rush for 1,000 yards in back-to-back years and the third to do it as a freshman and sophomore.

Verdell gave all credit to his offensive line.

I couldn't have done anything on that field without the O-line, They made the holes, paved the way for me to give the big runs. I got to give it all up to them. --Verdell

In Oregon’s most complete game of the season, the Ducks won the battle in the trenches, the defense held Utah scoreless in the first half and quarterback Justin Herbert showed off his mobility. Afterwards, Verdell and the Ducks celebrated in the locker room smelling of mud, sweat and a slight hint of roses.

Billboard in Utah congratulates Utes for PAC-12 Championship they didn't win

Billboard in Utah congratulates Utes for PAC-12 Championship they didn't win

We all make mistakes. 

Some people's mistakes are just more public than others. 

A digital billboard in Sandy, Utah, which is located about a half hour south of Salt Lake City made this gaffe. 

The screen reads Pac-12 Champions with Utah's logo and the PAC-12 Championship trophy.

It's not immediately known how long this was being displayed, but the timestamp on the tweet is from 9:22pm, which is roughly 30 minutes after the conclusion of the PAC-12 title game in which Oregon won 37-15.

Sewell brothers show family is bigger than football

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Brandon Kamerman/Twitter

Sewell brothers show family is bigger than football

As a battle waged on between the No. 13 Oregon Ducks and No. 5 Utah Utes, another was silently brewing.

Oregon offensive lineman Penei Sewell was playing across from his brother Nephi for the PAC-12 crown. 

It was inevitable. One of them was going to go home victorious, the other in defeat.

No matter the outcome, though, they would remain family. 

After the game, a touching moment was captured. 

The two were seen hugging and crying on the field at the conclusion of the game. 

Penei Sewell, a finalist for the Outland Trophy, comforted his brother Nephi, who transferred to Utah from Nevada and walked on. 

Some things are just bigger than sports. 

The Ducks are Rose Bowl bound, dashing Utah's hopes of a trip to the College Football Playoff.

Instant Analysis: No. 13 Oregon upsets No. 5 Utah to take the Pac-12 Conference crown

Instant Analysis: No. 13 Oregon upsets No. 5 Utah to take the Pac-12 Conference crown

SANTA CLARA- In a battle for the Pac-12 Conference Championship between its two most physical teams, the No. 13 Oregon Ducks (11-2, 8-1 Pac-12) beat No. 5 Utah at Levi’s Stadium to win its first conference championship since 2014.

The 37-15 win ties Oregon with Stanford for most Pac-12 Championship Game victories (3).

Also, do you smell the roses? Oregon earned the program’s eighth appearance in the Rose Bowl with the win.

Here are the top three takeaways from the contest.

1. Run, Herbert, Run!

Oregon couldn’t have gotten off to a better start. On the opening drive of the game, the Ducks flexed their strength in the trenches with a defensive stop on fourth-and-short.

The defense put the offense in the position to succeed… Which it did. Quarterback Justin Herbert’s legs added a wrinkle that Utah’s defense wasn’t prepared for. On one of Oregon’s best drives of the season, Herbert kept it on the zone read to rush for 22 yards. Running back Cyrus Habibi-Likio punched in a seven-yard touchdown to cap a nine-play, 67-yard drive and give Oregon an early 7-0 lead.

Did Oregon wait three months to set up this mobile Herbert? If so, it worked. Oregon’s 10 first quarter points tie the most against Utah this season (with USC, Utah’s only loss). Oregon totaled 263 yards of offense in the first half and Utah entered the game allowing 241.6 yards per game.

2. Explosion plays

This season, Utah has allowed just four plays of 40 or more yards.

In the first half alone, Oregon had two explosive, momentum-building plays of 40+ yards.

Herbert showed off his great touch on a deep ball to wide receiver Juwan Johnson, a 50-yard gain to the two-yard line. Then, wide receiver Johnny Johnson III burned the Utah corner to get wide open for a 45-yard touchdown. The junior’s touchdown grab is his fifth in the last four games.

Running back CJ Verdell earned the longest run in Pac-12 Championship history in the 4th quarter with a 70-yard touchdown rush. Verdell finished with 208 yards rushing.

Johnson III had an unbelievable 33-yard grab in double coverage over the back of a Utah defender.

3. Duck defense in the clutch

Against the Pac-12 conference’s most efficient quarterback Tyler Huntley and best running back Zack Moss, the Duck defense held Utah to zero points in the first half. It marked Oregon’s eighth game in which Oregon didn’t allow a touchdown in the first half. Utah was held scoreless in the first half for the first time this season.

Oregon made big stops in the clutch, holding Utah to 0-for-6 on third down and 0-for-2 on fourth down in the first half. Brady Breeze also grabbed an interception, only Huntley’s third of the season.

One of the biggest stops came with 7:45 left in the third quarter, Utah went for it on 4-and-2, trailing 20-7 and don’t convert. Thomas Graham came up with the deflection to give the ball to the offense at midfield.  

In the end, Oregon ended Utah’s eight-game winning steak, halting the Utes’ College Football Playoff dreams.

--

More to come with quotes and videos from Coach Mario Cristobal and Ducks players.

Will rain & strong wind threaten Oregon's offense in the PAC 12 Championship Game?

Will rain & strong wind threaten Oregon's offense in the PAC 12 Championship Game?

The forecast for the Pac-12 Championship game is rainy with projected 20+MPH winds.

This morning, it's beautiful and sunny in Santa Clara, but that's expected to change.

The weather could be a major factor in what will likely be a muddy clash for the Pac-12 title between No.13 Oregon and No. 5 Utah. Levi’s Stadium has real grass, by the way. It could be a muddy mess.

When describing the forecast to Oregon linebacker Troy Dye, he responded, “Sounds like a regular day in Eugene.”

Which is ironic, because it was so sunny in Eugene this week, the Ducks had to prepare for the bad weather with artificial wet drills by soaking the footballs.

The only time the Ducks played in the rain this season was at Washington. In that game, the Oregon offense put up 35 points. Justin Herbert threw for 280 yards and four touchdowns. So, while some might think it will be a ground game, the Ducks win over the Huskies shows Oregon won't be afraid to throw the ball.

Adverse weather conditions could lead to mistakes and sloppy play, but Oregon will need to win the turnover battle to have a chance today.

 

MORE DUCKS

Three keys for the Oregon Ducks to win the Pac-12 Championship

How Marcus Arroyo’s name popping up in the coaching carousel affects Oregon

Where Oregon's Bowl path currently stands: Rose Bowl to Alamo Bowl

10 surprising numbers: Oregon vs. Utah in Pac-12 Championship

Mario Cristobal’s ear-catching comments about time of possession

Even G.O.A.T.'s have birthdays. Happy Birthday, Sabrina Ionescu!

Even G.O.A.T.'s have birthdays. Happy Birthday, Sabrina Ionescu!

Back-to-back Pac-12 Player of the Year; All-Time leader in triple-doubles in the NCAA (men's or women's); Wade Trophy winner for Player of the Year; Wooden Trophy winner for Most Outstanding Player in Women's College Basketball; Nancy Lieberman Award winner (second straight season, nation's top point guard); seeking a Masters degree; twin; Nike jersey sold out within a day...

And she's not done yet.

In her final season at Oregon, Ionescu has the chance to become the first player in NCAA women's basketball history to reach 2,000+ career points, 1,000+ career assists and 1,000+ career rebounds. She has already checked career points off that list and recently became the Pac-12's assist leader (836 and counting).

Enjoy more fun facts about the G.O.A.T. in the video above!

Oregon LT Penei Sewell named PAC-12 Player of the Year by PFF

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IMAGN

Oregon LT Penei Sewell named PAC-12 Player of the Year by PFF

It’s the end of the regular season in college football, which means bowl games and end of season awards. 

One of the players who will be recognized over and over again will be Oregon left tackle Penei Sewell. 

PFF announced their Power 5 Players of the Year with the PAC-12 award going to the Oregon offensive lineman. 

PFF uses a play-by-play grading to analyze players, and Sewell is on pace to shatter the records for an offensive lineman in both run protection and pass protection, according to the website. 

Here’s what they had to say:

Perhaps the best tackle prospect to come about since Eric Fisher went first in the 2013 NFL Draft, Sewell has dominated since his first snaps on the field in Eugene. He's on pace to break the record for the highest grade we've ever given to an offensive tackle and is setting records with his pass-blocking and run-blocking grades in the process. In pass protection alone, Sewell stands tall over his peers.

In 2019, Sewell has taken 420 reps in pass protection and allowed just six total pressures, giving up pressure on just 1.4% of his pass-blocking snaps, an absurd rate. 

Sewell was the Outland Trophy player of the month for September and was named one of three finalists for the Outland Trophy, given to CFB’s best interior lineman. In addition, Sewell was named the Pac-12 offensive lineman of the week four times. 

Other Player of the Year honors went to:

ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

BIG TEN CONFERENCE: Chase Young, Edge, Ohio State

BIG 12 CONFERENCE: Ceedee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma

SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU

Sewell and the Ducks will suit up Friday in the PAC-12 Championship Game vs. Utah. 

Oregon swagged out in "Nightmare Green" for Pac-12 Championship

Oregon swagged out in "Nightmare Green" for Pac-12 Championship

The No. 13 Oregon Ducks will be donning all "Nightmare Green" on Friday at 5 p.m (PT) in Levi's Stadium against Pac-12 South division winner No. 5 Utah. 

[READ: Justin Herbert's heart is Oregon's X-factor to win Pac-12 Title]

Oregon's "Nike Vapor Fusion" uniform is celebrating its 20th anniversary of their partnership with Nike. The winged helmets are back and the jerseys feature large "Mighty Oregon" font resembling last season's "Oregon Football 2.0" uniform with slight differences. The addition of Nightmare Green is the biggest change while notably no black set was released. 

The battle between Oregon (10-2, 8-1 Pac-12) and No. 5 Utah (11-1, 8-1 Pac-12) for the Pac-12 Conference crown is bound to be intense with major post-season implications. The Ducks still have a chance at playing in the Rose Bowl as Pac-12 Conference champions (among another option). Standing in their way? The Utes, packed with experienced offensive weapons, one of the toughest defenses in the nation and imminent College Football Playoff dreams.

Utah will be wearing all white.

Numbers to know: Utah leads the FBS in rushing defense (56.3) with opponents averaging just 2.26 yards per carry. The Utes have held 11 of their 12 opponents to under 100 yards rushing and have outscored their opponents 193-61 in the second half this season. 

MORE DUCKS

Three keys for the Oregon Ducks to win the Pac-12 Championship

How Marcus Arroyo’s name popping up in the coaching carousel affects Oregon

Where Oregon's Bowl path currently stands: Rose Bowl to Alamo Bowl

10 surprising numbers: Oregon vs. Utah in Pac-12 Championship

Mario Cristobal’s ear-catching comments about time of possession

USC keeping Helton is the best news the Ducks could hear

USC keeping Helton is the best news the Ducks could hear

Days after Chris Petersen resigned from coaching the Washington Huskies, the good news just keeps coming for Ducks fans.

After a season of what felt like a dead man coaching, USC AD Mike Bohn said Wednesday that head coach Clay Helton will be retained. 

USC ended the regular season ranked No. 22 in the College Football Playoff Rankings, going 8-4, including a win over No. 5 Utah. That sounds like a successful season, but there’s much more to the situation that caused many Trojan fans to desire Helton’s firing. 

USC is arguably the only blue blood football program in the Pac-12. They are located in the middle of Los Angeles, which creates some of the most elite high school football talent in America. The top two high school football teams in the nation are located near Los Angeles. Many of those elite kids grow up dreaming of playing in LA Coliseum. USC recruits itself and always is among the most talented teams in the nation.  

Despite all of that, USC has the 67th ranked recruiting class in the country eleven days before the early signing period. Helton has the program in such bad shape that local recruits are continuing to look elsewhere.

If USC’s brand perception continues to tank, then the rank of being the best brand in the conference can be Oregon’s for the taking. The elite recruits choosing their schools today do not remember the Pete Caroll era that included teams with Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush. They grew up watching Chip Kelly and the Oregon Ducks torching USC en route to winning BCS Bowls and revolutionizing college football. They were trend-setters with their uniforms, while USC was caught up in their past traditions. Now, the Ducks have Mario Cristobal at the helm, one of the best recruiters in the country. 

Also, Oregon has already gone into Los Angeles and received commitments from kids targeted by USC, as well. Linebacker Mase Funa and wide receiver Michael Pittman come to mind immediately. The LA to Eugene pipeline began when De'Anthony Thomas shocked the world by committing to the Ducks. Recruits today remember that decision. Cristobal has only solidified that pipeline and if USC continues to look unappealing, then the Ducks should only amass more talent. 

Don't forget these kids watched the Ducks demolish USC in Los Angeles earlier this season, 56-24.

Currently, the Ducks have the 11th ranked recruiting class according to 247 Sports and still have a few more spots open for big time recruits to commit closer to signing day.