Oregon Ducks

The one thing Mario Cristobal emphasized during the bye week: penalties, penalties, penalties.

The one thing Mario Cristobal emphasized during the bye week: penalties, penalties, penalties.

If Oregon Coach Mario Cristobal could wave his magic wand and fix one thing about his team’s performance, it would be easy: penalties. 

In the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with Jordan Kent and Anthony Newman, Kent sits down with Cristobal to talk about what changes Oregon has emphasized and practiced during the bye week.

“Penalties. We had been the least penalized team in the conference. I understand it, we have 49 guys from California and a lot from southern California, and that game went over the edge at times. You can’t do it. And it doesn’t make you any tougher or make you any better, but look I’m behind our guys one hundred percent. We just aren’t behind the stuff that can compromise winning,” said Cristobal.

The No. 6 Ducks went from first to worst in the span on three games accumulating over 100 yards in penalties in each of those games. At USC, more uncharacteristic penalties plagued the Ducks highlighted by an ejection from defensive lineman Austin Faoliu. 

Cristobal added, “We play with a lot of passion. We play with a lot of emotion, but we kind of let emotion play with us a bit in the course of that game. But then, in the second half, we were able to take control and get stronger and able to wear down our opponent.”

From the moment Cristobal was hired as head coach, one of his main philosophies has been disciplined football. The Ducks haven’t shown that in recent games racking up all these yards in penalties, but Cristobal can assure you that he is getting it under control.

Listen to the full Talkin’ Ducks Podcast below:

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

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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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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.

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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.

 

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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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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. 

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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.

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

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

Friday’s battle between No. 13 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.

AN OREGON WIN WOULD…

·      Tie Oregon with Stanford for most Pac-12 Championship Game victories (3).

·      Clinch the program's eighth appearance in the Rose Bowl.

·      Give Oregon seven seasons with 11 or more wins (first time since 2014).


A UTAH WIN WOULD…

·      Be Utah’s first conference championship.

·      Extend its winning streak to nine games, their longest winning streak since 2008 when Utah went undefeated (13-0).

·      Keep its college football playoff hopes alive.

THREE KEYS TO AN OREGON VICTORY

Oregon can hang with anyone when they put it all together but how can they defeat a Utes team looking for a statement win to display to the College Football Playoff rankings committee?

1. Shake up Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley

Dual-threat quarterback Tyler Huntley is dangerous and experienced. The senior is crazy efficient (has completed 75.5% of his passes, which is second behind LSU’s Joe Burrow) averaging 11.1 passing yards per completion, a Pac-12 best and third in the FBS. 

Huntley and Burrow are the only two quarterbacks who have thrown under 70 percent in two or less games. They are also the only quarterbacks that have thrown for 80 percent or higher in four games this season.

The Heisman-Trophy candidate also has 74 carries for 255 yards and five rushing touchdowns.

“Huntley runs that offense like he’s been there for four years because he has been. We’re looking forward to playing against them,” senior linebacker Troy Dye said.
Oregon must disrupt Huntley and the ball-controlling Utes. The Duck defense has been mostly dependable this season, allowing 10 points or fewer in seven of 10 games. The Ducks have recorded a conference-best 35 sacks and will need to continue to play to that strength.

Look for starting defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux to have a major impact. The freshman has heated up in the last four games, totaling eight tackles for loss and four sacks. Coming off a two tackles for loss, one sack performance, Thibodeaux matched a program freshman record with 6.5 sacks on the season, tying Troy Dye’s 2016 total. Entering this season, Thibodeaux’s goal was 10 sacks: an accomplishment still in reach.

2. Win the turnover battle

The rainy, windy conditions in a clash between the most physical teams in the conference could lead to some mistakes and sloppy play. Oregon must be on the winning end of the turnover battle to contend against Utah. The Ducks practiced with a wet ball this week and aren’t overly concerned with “mother nature”. Some numbers to consider:

  • Keep Utah’s defense out of the end zone- The Utes defense has five touchdowns this season, ranking second in the FBS.
  • Oregon ranks first (17) and Utah (13) ranks second in interceptions.
  • Utah is 10th in FBS in turnover margin (0.83).
  • Oregon has scored 113 points off turnovers compared to opponents' 27 points off turnovers.
  • This season against Pac-12 teams, Oregon is undefeated when winning the turnover battle (4-0).

3. Passing game success

Utah is known for its defense, which is giving up a conference-best 11.3 points (third in the nation) and 56.3 yards rushing (first in the nation) on average. Opponents haven’t found an answer to the Utes rushing defense that is allowing an average of 2.26 yards per carry. The Utes have held 11 of their 12 opponents to under 100 yards rushing.

So likely, the Ducks will have to get it done through the passing game.

This is considerable reason for concern regarding Oregon’s offense, which has struggled in the last two games. After quarterback Jusin Herbert threw two interceptions against Arizona State, the Ducks totaled their lowest yardage of the season against Oregon State. Oregon’s receivers have lacked separation and Herbert has had some errant throws.

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

The Ducks will need junior wide receiver Johnny Johnson III to maintain his dependability in his strong season finish. In the last three games, he has 18 catches for 335 yards and four touchdowns. 34 of the junior’s 49 receptions have gone for first downs and he has three-straight games with a touchdown catch.

How and where to watch

Time: Friday, Dec. 6, 5:14 p.m. (PT)

Where: Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, California

TV: ABC

Radio: KUGN-AM (590), KUJZ-FM (95.3), KZEL-FM (96.1)