Oregon Ducks

Oregon at ASU won't reveal much unless Ducks lose

Oregon at ASU won't reveal much unless Ducks lose

The No. 24 Oregon Ducks enter Pac-12 play under Willie Taggart as a mystery team. That probably won't change much come late Saturday night. 

For the first time this season UO will face an opponent capable of putting up numbers on offense and getting after the quarterback on defense when the Ducks (3-0) play at Arizona State (1-2) Saturday night in Sun Devil's Stadium. When the game is over, Oregon should be 4-0 and by Sunday morning ranked as high as No. 20.  Yet, this game probably won't reveal much about what these Ducks are really all about. That is, unless, of course, they were to lose. 

How could that happen?

For starters, unlike previous opponents, Nebraska and Wyoming, the Sun Devils have some pop on offense and they will spread that talent out across the formation seeking mismatches. UO defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt said facing such a team loaded with speed on the outside and at running back will be a challenge for UO. 

"We haven't seen athletes like these guys, yet," he said. 

Oregon redshirt senior safety Tyree Robinson said he believes ASU, averaging 412 yards and 34 points per game, will try to establish the run with 6-foot-3, 230-pound senior running back Kalen Ballage, who runs with power and speed.

"We have to gang tackle," Robinson said.

Maybe. Then again, ASU is averaging a weak 97 rushing yards per game on 2.5 per carry.

ASU, according to Robinson, will use a lot of formations and motions in an attempt to catch Oregon's defense napping. 

"We just have to do a good job of communicating and being in the right place," Robinson said. 

Surely tested will be true freshmen defensive backs Nick Picket and Thomas Graham Jr. They have performed very well so far but have yet to see a wave of plays and athletes coming at them over and over like they will on Saturday.  ASU quarterback Many Wilkins is a threat to run and will certainly extend plays better than Wyoming's Josh Allen did last week. Wilkins has thrown seven touchdown passes with zero interceptions. He is certainly a threat to make some plays on Saturday. Enough to win? Probably not. 

Oregon's defense might allow its share of points but the Ducks certainly won't get run through like many teams did to them last season. More importantly, Oregon's offense should have its way with ASU's defense, which has allowed 37.7 points and 505.3 yards per game.  

For that reason alone, UO should leave the state of Arizona with a win. Only a flow of turnovers could derail Oregon. Yes, the Sun Devils lead the conference with 13 sacks. And yes, they will throw heavy pressure at UO sophomore quarterback Justin Herbert. It simply won't matter. Herbert gets rid of the ball too quickly, which will lead to big plays against pressure. Plus, let's not forget, that last year he tied a program record with 489 yards passing against ASU in one of his only two victories as a starter last season. 

The Ducks will score a ton of points and win. They might even score a nice chunk of those points in the second half, which would be a departure from the previous two weeks. 

Maybe the most significant fact that will come out of a win Saturday is that Oregon would have matched last season's win total (4-8) four games into the season. By any measure, that's great progress. We just won't know if the Ducks are very good, or simply better than the mediocre competition they would have faced to date. 

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Oregon at Arizona State

When: 7 p.m., Saturday, Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Ariz. 

T.V.: Pac-12 Networks. 

Betting line: Oregon minus 14 1/2.

Records: Oregon (3-0), Arizona State (1-2).

Last week: The Sun Devils lost 52-45 at Texas Tech. Oregon won 49-13 at Wyoming. 

Coaches: Ducks' Willie Taggart (43-45, 3-0 at Oregon); Sun Devils' Todd Graham (89-57, 40-28 at ASU).

Sun Devils' impact players: Quarterback Manny Wilkins is off to a pretty hot start, averaging 308 yards passing with seven touchdown tosses and has yet to throw an interception. He has completed 68.3 percent of his passes. Wilkins, a redshirt junior, was the No. 6-rated dual-threat quarterback in the nation when he came out of high school in 2014.

"This will be the first time we've had a good mobile quarterback that we've had to go against," Taggart said. 

Senior running back Kalen Ballage has rushed for 179 yards and four touchdowns but is averaging just 3.7 yards per carry. 

Sophomore wide receiver N'Keal Harry is Wilkins' top target. The 6-foot-4 Harry has caught 24 passes for 266 yards and two touchdowns. 

ASU's defense is led statistically by two freshmen. Defensive end Jojo Wicker has three sacks on the season and linebacker D.J. Calhoun is averaging 10.3 tackles per game. 

Linebacker Koron Crump (knee), who leads the conference with four sacks, is out for ASU. 

Fear factor (five-point scale): 3.5.  It's a road game. It's a conference game. It's against what will be by far the best offense the Ducks will have faced this season. There's a lot to be worried about for Oregon. However, ASU is about as bad on defense as the Ducks were last season. If the Ducks take care of the football they would once again surpass 40 points. We will know after this game if UO's defense truly has bite if it can keep the Sun Devils in check. 

Final pick: Oregon, 47-33. 

Oregon vs. Georgia football in the works for 2022

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Oregon vs. Georgia football in the works for 2022

There is something brewing in the Oregon football future. A potential SEC vs. PAC12 clash of two powerhouse programs. Reported this morning by 247 Sports' Jake Rowe, there is talk of the Oregon Ducks and Georgia Bulldogs facing off in a preseason game in 2022. The game is rumored to take place at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia.

Article can be read here.

In the light of heavy conversation about preseason schedules, non-conference opponents, and strength of schedules, the Ducks are facing a potential "cakewalk" this season opening up with Bowling Green, Portland State, and San Jose State before starting Pac-12 conference play. 

Already in the last few weeks, Oregon has scheduled a three-year series against Boise State starting in 2024, and a home-and-home with Michigan State in 2029, 2030.

 

Taggart can shed "overrated" label by finishing the job

Taggart can shed "overrated" label by finishing the job

Former Oregon coach Willie Taggart's rapid rise through the coaching ranks that landed him at Florida State without ever having won a championship or even a bowl game appears to be the impetus behind him being voted the most "overrated" coach by some of his peers in a recent poll conducted by CBSSports.com

CBS Sports interviewed coaches anonymously for its poll and 20 percent named Taggart and Penn State coach James Franklin as the most overrated in their profession. The selection of Franklin is interesting considering that he returned the Nittany Lions to national prominence with back-to-back 11-win seasons following the program's fall following the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal that rocked Penn State only a few years ago. 

The selection of Taggart, however, appears to be a bit harsh but not completely without merit. 

Taggart has one of the most coveted and respected jobs in the country and got that position without having ever won a conference title, let alone contending for a national championship. Plus, his overall record of 47-50 compiled at Western Kentucky (16-20), South Florida (24-25) and Oregon (7-5) certainly doesn't appear to befit the coach of a such a prominent program. 

The fact of the matter is that Taggart has yet to prove that he is a championship-caliber coach. All we know is that he is one hell of a recruiter and if you have a struggling program in need of a jolt of personality, energy, swag and offensive firepower, Taggart is most certainly your guy. 

But can he secure some hardware for the trophy case? That remains to be seen.

In many ways, Taggart's overall record isn't exactly reflective of his coaching abilities. Is it fair to judge a coach's record when he takes on reclamation projects?

The combined records of WKU, USF and UO during the year prior to Taggart's arrival to the respective programs was 7-29. Western Kentucky went 0-12 before Taggart returned the Hilltoppers back to respectability with 7-5 records in years two and three of his rebuild. South Florida went 3-9 before Taggart's arrival. He got them to 8-5 in year three and 10-2 in his fourth season before departing for Oregon, which was coming off of a 4-8 season. Taggart went 7-5 with the Ducks before jetting off to FSU.

Taggart's combined record in the final season of his respective three prior jobs is 24-12. 

Taggart has changed jobs so rapidly during his rebuilds that he has yet to taste winning a bowl game. He got the Hilltoppers to a bowl game in his third season, but he left for South Florida before Western Kentucky lost 24-21 to Central Michigan in the Little Caesar's Bowl. 

Taggart went to a bowl game following his third season at South Florida (8-5) only to lose 45-35 to - wait for it - Western Kentucky in the Miami Beach Bowl (whatever that is). The Bulls went 10-2 the following year before Taggart left for Oregon prior to the team's 46-39 win over Cincinnati in the Birmingham Bowl. 

Of course, everyone around here remembers that Taggart left Oregon 10 days before it lost 38-28 to Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl. 

What is evident is that whenever Taggart gets a program going in the right direction, another looks to swipe him away in order to fix their mess. That naturally leads to rebuilds that ultimately can skew a coach's won-loss record. 

If you erase Taggart's first seasons at WKU and USF where he put out dumpster fires while going a combined 4-20, Taggart is 43-30. That type of record at FSU, however, would certainly get Taggart fired.  

Now settled into his "dream job," Taggart has nowhere else to go. Bigger or better jobs do not exist on Taggart's radar. He would only leave FSU for either the NFL or if he were fired. The former won't happen unless he wins. 

Taggart has no excuse not to rack up Ws. FSU's roster is loaded, which is why the Seminoles are ranked No. 19 in the preseason AP Poll. Taggart's first recruiting class at FSU - largely neglected by the out-going Jimbo Fisher - finished ranked No. 11 on 247Sports.com. The four years prior under Fisher, FSU's classes ranked No. 6 (2017), No. 3 (2016), No. 3 (2015) and No. 4 (2014).

Unless there were a ton of wild misses in talent evaluation over the past five years, the Seminoles should be stacked with enough talent to contend in the Atlantic Coast Conference for years to come. 

It's during that time when Taggart will either shed the "overrated" tag, or prove the label to be correct.

Taggart tagged as most overrated coach in CFB

Taggart tagged as most overrated coach in CFB

College football coaches plus anonymity equals eye-catching quotes and hot takes.

A coaching panel was asked to name the most overrated coach in college football and former Oregon coach Willie Taggart topped the list.

According to a poll in which CBS Sports spoke with one-fifth of the 129 active coaches leading FBS teams entering the season, Taggart and Penn State’s James Franklin each received 20 percent of the vote.

Taggart enters his first season at Florida State, replacing Jimbo Fisher, after one year at Oregon. He is 47-50 overall as a head coach with stops at Western Kentucky and South Florida. He repeatedly called FSU his “dream job”.

A “dream job” that some FBS coaches don’t believe he had earned.

“He was only at Oregon for one year, and it’s not like he really transformed that program — and that’s a place that’s won for a long time,” one coach said of Taggart. “Not that he isn’t good — he’s won. But usually when you get a job like Florida State, it’s because you’ve won some championships or done something really amazing.”

Another coach said he voted for Taggart because “he still has a career losing record.”

Taggart is universally respected as a recruiter, but because of his losing career record and relatively short resume (plus probably some jealousy) his peers seem to question the new Seminoles head coach’s validity.

Or maybe it's his showmanship and confidence that turns off his peers. Taggart brought the "swag surf" to the Oregon student section, the "juice" to the football team and smeared the "Do Something" slogan all over Autzen stadium.

[READ: Oregon linebacker Troy Dye calls out Willie Taggart on Twitter]

It should be noted that Taggart took over three losing programs that went a combined 7-29 before his arrival and got them all to bowl games before departing for better job.  

Taggart wasn’t the only coach who was criticized. Nick Saban was labeled a “cheater” by one head coach.

"If you had the No. 1 recruiting class in the country every year [you'd win like Nick Saban]," one coach said. "He shows up at every single game with a better roster than the teams he's playing. … If you count cheating and getting the best players in the country as part of running a program, he's the best in the country. It's like saying an NFL coach is the best coach in the league if he gets 25 first-round picks every year."

Noteably, three of five of the most underrated coaches hail from the Pac-12 conference. Twelve percent of coaches panel voted for Stanford’s David Shaw and Washington’s Chris Peterson as the most underrated head coaches in the nation.  Utah’s Kyle Whittingham wasn’t far behind, grabbing eight percent of the votes.

Oregon ranked No. 24 in the preseason AP Poll

Oregon ranked No. 24 in the preseason AP Poll

For the first time since week four of 2017, Oregon has landed on the Associated Press Poll. The Ducks start the Mario Cristobal era ranked as No. 24 in the preseason AP Poll.

Pac-12 teams that made the cut in the AP Poll Top 25 include No. 6 Washington, No. 13 Stanford and No. 15 USC. 

Alabama is just the second team to be ranked No. 1 in the preseason Associated Press Top 25 poll for three straight seasons. Alabama received 42 out of 61 first-place votes.

More on the Ducks:

Which Duck linebackers will wreak havoc? The locks, contenders and longshots

Oregon releases new uniforms; internet blows up

How the new redshirt rule helps Oregon

Who will Herbert sling the ball to? The Locks, Contenders and Longshots at receiver

31 Greatest NCAAF Players in PNW history: No.12 - LaMichael James

31 Greatest NCAAF Players in PNW history: No.12 - LaMichael James

You can’t think of the modern success of the Oregon Ducks without thinking about LaMichael James. Oregon is a school with a very long history of great running backs, and James was arguably the best.

James was a two-time All-American, two-time first team all-Pac-10/Pac-12 selection, and won the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s best running back in 2010.

In that 2010 season, James would lead Oregon to its first appearance in the National Title Game, rushing for 1,731 yards and 21 touchdowns on the year.

When he left Eugene, James held numerous Oregon records including:

Career rushing yards (5,082), single-season rushing yards (1,805), single-game rushing yards (288), career rushing touchdowns (53), and single-season rushing touchdowns (21).

Former Ducks RB Royce Freeman scores again for Denver

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USA Today

Former Ducks RB Royce Freeman scores again for Denver

Denver rookie running back Royce Freeman scored his second touchdown of the preseason Saturday night during the Broncos' game against Chicago. 

Freeman's touchdown came from four yards out in the second quarter. The former Oregon star and third-round pick finished the night with six carries for 20 yards and caught one pass for six yards. He is in competition for the starting job with Devontae Booker, who had 17 yards on four carries and caught one pass for 10 yards. 

Chicago won 24-23. 

Freeman scored on a 23-yard run last week against Minnesota when he rushed for 38 yards on four carries. 

Which Duck linebackers will wreak havoc? The locks, contenders and longshots

Which Duck linebackers will wreak havoc? The locks, contenders and longshots

The Ducks know they have two stars at linebacker in junior Troy Dye and senior Justin Hollins. With the emergence of La’Mar Winston Jr., this position unit could be the strongest on the team.

LOCKS

Troy Dye, junior, inside linebacker: Oregon's defensive MVP for the 2017 season has generated major NFL draft buzz and has landed on three major watch lists; the Bednarik Award (nation’s top defensive player), the Butkus award (nation’s best linebacker) and the Nagurski award (nation’s best defensive player).

In his two seasons, the preseason All-American has 198 tackles with 118 solo tackles, 80 assisted tackles and 9.5 sacks.

Justin Hollins, senior, outside linebacker: The Butkus award nominee is heading into his fifth year at Oregon as the only Duck to have played on the unit that helped get Oregon into the inaugural College Football Playoff championship game in 2014.

Last season he forced three fumbles and finished third on the team in tackles for loss (11.5) behind defensive end Jalen Jelks (15) and linebacker Troy Dye (13.5).

La’Mar Winston Jr., junior, outside linebacker: The Len Casanova Award for leadership winner (voted on by his teammates) played in all 13 games for the Ducks in 2017, including seven starts. Five of those starts came over the final six games when he delivered 31 tackles with five for loss. He finished the season with 49 tackles, eight tackles for loss and two sacks. 

[WATCH: A SUMMER IN PARIS WITH LA'MAR WINSTON JR.]

"(La'Mar)'s put on weight and strength," Dye said. "Seeing his transition from our freshmen year until now is phenonemal."

CONTENDERS

Kaulana Apelu, senior, inside linebacker; The walk-on was placed on scholarship before the start of 2017 season. He played in five games and made three starts, totaling 20 tackles, including three for loss before suffering a season-ending injury. Apelu rehabbed and returned to the field in time for spring practice. In the spring game, he led the Ducks’ defense with nine tackles and returned a tipped pass 100 yards for a touchdown.

Isaac Slade-Matautia, redshirt freshman, inside linebacker: Last season Slade-Matautia utilized his redshirt. ESPN and Rivals ranked the four-star prospect a top two player from the state of Hawaii. He is competing to be in the mix for starting alongside Dye.

"(Isaac)'s a beast," Dye said. "He's going to surprise a lot of people. There are a lot of things that he has taught me."

Adrian Jackson, freshman, inside linebacker: A consensus four-star prospect and the state of Colorado's top player in 2017. Dye called Jackson a "phenomenal beast" a few days into fall camp. Jackson currently backs up Dye at the JACK linebacker position, but says he’d be willing to move to MIKE.

[READ: How the new redshirt rule helps Oregon]

Keith Simms, sophomore, outside linebacker: Suffered a season-ending injury last season. Played both inside and outside throughout spring practices and totaled 8 tackles and a sack during UO’s spring game. Simms could add quality depth if he can stay healthy.

LONGSHOTS

Sampson Niu, sophomore, inside linebacker: In 2017, Niu played in six games and finished with eight tackles and one tackle for loss. He missed spring drills while rehabbing an injury suffered in the Las Vegas Bowl. Four-star prospect and the top inside linebacker in the state of California by Rivals and 247Sports.

MJ Cunningham, true freshman, inside linebacker: A consensus three-star prospect by ESPN, Rivals and 247Sports. The Portland-native is another freshman that could crack the rotation.

Who will Herbert sling the ball to? The Locks, Contenders and Longshots at receiver

Oregon releases new uniforms; internet blows up

Oregon releases new uniforms; internet blows up

The Oregon Ducks have unveiled their Nike football uniforms for the upcoming season. The winged helmets are back and the jerseys feature a new large "Mighty Oregon" font. Check them out.

The jerseys are more simple than years past. Everyone (and their mother) had something to say about the reveal on Twitter. Here are some of the most sarcastic, clever, interesting and fun tweets.

Font size humor:

A cool throwback to a life before Twitter from former Duck T.J. Ward:

The team is stoked:

And so is the Oregon Duck Mascot:

Can't forget the age old joke...

Where do they rank on your all-time Oregon uniform list?

 

 

REPORT: Dallas signs former Ducks WR Darren Carrington Jr.

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USA Today

REPORT: Dallas signs former Ducks WR Darren Carrington Jr.

The Dallas Cowboys have signed former Oregon and Utah wide receiver Darren Carrington Jr., according to multiple reports.

The signing was first reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Carrington, who played at Oregon from 2013 through 2016, played last season at Utah after former UO coach Willie Taggart dismissed him from the team for violating team rules.

Carrington, who was suspended for six games in 2014 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the national championship game played at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, is a talented receiver who has the skills to play in the NFL but has hobbled his career by repeatedly making poor decisions away from the field. 

Carrington went undrafted last spring even after being invited to the NFL Scouting Combine. He recently participated in a tryout with Dallas and showed enough to get signed to the team's roster. Plus, Dallas has experienced several injuries at wide receiver during training camp.