Oregon Ducks

Oregon Coach Cristobal's ear-catching comments about penalties and turnovers

Oregon Coach Cristobal's ear-catching comments about penalties and turnovers

Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said something during his bye week media availability that caught my attention. Expectedly, the Ducks are getting a jumpstart on Cal, getting healthy and working on their running game. But unexpectedly, they are also hyper focused on limiting penalties and turnovers, both categories that the Ducks have excelled in through their first four games.

Remember when penalties plagued Oregon football in 2017? Last season, the Ducks successfully improved from the most undisciplined and heavily penalized team in the country to fourth in the Pac-12 Conference in penalty yards. Coach Cristobal corrected UO's bad habits to dramatically improve from the FBS-worst 88.31 penalty yards per game to 47.92 penalty yards in 2018.

What a turnaround. The improvement is still evident and important to Cristobal. Turnovers and penalties don’t fit in his Oregon football vision.

“The development of the football team continuing along the lines of discipline, where we continue to narrow or shorten or eliminate penalties,” Cristobal said. “We still could eliminate more.”

The Ducks lead the Pac-12 Conference with the least amount of penalties. Currently, Oregon is eighth nationally in penalty yardage, averaging 4.25 penalties and 35.5 penalty yards per game. Arizona State’s five penalties per game ranks second in the conference and 21st in the nation, while Cal’s 5.5 penalties per game ranks third in the conference and 37th in the nation.

Penalties are still plaguing Oregon’s 2017 coach Willie Taggart at Florida State. The Seminole’s 110 penalties in 2018 were the most in the nation and by an FSU team since the Seminoles committed 114 penalties in 2005. Through four games this season, FSU is averaging 7.8 penalties per game, 106th out of 130 FBS teams.

Let’s move on to Oregon’s turnovers. Quarterback Justin Herbert has not thrown an interception in 174 consecutive attempts. The Ducks as a team have two fumbles, which ranks fifth best in the nation and second best in the Pac-12. Oregon State is the only team with fewer turnovers (one interception through three games) which is the best in the nation. The Ducks’ turnover margin is 10th best in the nation, gaining eight turnovers to equal a margin of six.

“We’ve done a good job of protecting the football and not throwing the ball to the other team and it could get even better,” Cristobal said. “Those are big focuses for us.”

It is clear Cristobal’s won’t let up on the gas until the Ducks sit at the best in the nation in both categories.

Payton Pritchard's three-point dagger in OT seals Ducks’ comeback win over Washington

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Payton Pritchard's three-point dagger in OT seals Ducks’ comeback win over Washington

It is difficult to play in front of an sellout crowd of 10,000 fans at Alaska Airlines Arena.

It’s even more challenging to mount a comeback when your team is down 16 points with 10:22 remaining in the second quarter.

But when the game is on the line in overtime, and you give Payton Pritchard the ball, you might as well call it game. Pritchard is built for moments like these. 

The National Player of the Week came up time and time again in No. 8 Oregon's 64-61 overtime victory over Washington, but perhaps his biggest shots came in the final moments. With 1:09 to go in regulation and 8 seconds on the shot clock, Pritchard hit a 3 from Mars to tie the game up. UW's Isaiah Stewart responded with two made free throws to give the Huskies a lead once again. Then, Pritchard found Shakur Juiston for the lay-in off pass to tie it up 56-all, and a missed three-pointer from Jamal Bey would send the game in overtime. 

Pritchard's most important basket of the night came with 3 seconds left on the clock in overtime. Pritchard drilled a 3 from way, way beyond the arc at the end of the shot clock to complete Oregon's largest comeback victory since Feb. 22, 2017. 

"This is MY city," Pritchard appeared to be shouting after the play. He finished with 22 points on 7-of-16 shooting, made six three pointers in the win and effortlessly perfected the Damian Lillard "Bad Shot."

Even Tyrell Crosby knows Payton Pritchard is the real deal. 



Freshman Chandler Lawson added a career-high 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Ducks and was crucial in the second half, helping the Ducks dig out of a 16-point hole. 

Next up, Oregon (15-4, 4-2 Pac-12) will head back to Matthew Knight Arena to host the USC Trojans (14-3, 3-1 Pac-12). 

Zest, sweat and grit pays off for Rose Bowl Defensive MVP Brady Breeze: 'I just had to believe in myself'

Zest, sweat and grit pays off for Rose Bowl Defensive MVP Brady Breeze: 'I just had to believe in myself'

When Brady Breeze entered spring practice heading into his junior year, the Ducks safety knew his chance of playing was grim. Breeze was a fourth-string boundary safety and not much higher than scout team.

Fast forward nine months and Breeze stood on the field in Pasadena, Calif., as the Rose Bowl’s Defensive MVP. He had a spectacular performance: compiling nine tackles, a pass breakup, a forced fumble and fumble recovery for a touchdown in the Ducks 28-27 victory over the Wisconsin Badgers.

On this week’s episode of Talkin’ Ducks with Jordan Kent and Anthony Newman, the hometown hero out of Lake Oswego discussed the challenges he faced on a stacked Ducks roster and how his confidence in himself helped make the defense so successful.

“I just kept faithful with myself,” Breeze said. “Most guys would have just transferred. As soon as they see themselves as second or third string, their transferring. So I knew the reason I came here is because I love the University of Oregon and I love everything about this school and the football program. That was just something that was kind of my motivation. I knew I was good enough…I knew I was athletic enough. I just had to believe in myself. Every single day is a battle to try to earn every single rep.”

Breeze believes the extra work he did outside practice, including the 15-30 minutes in the weight room every day which helped him to gain more armor on his body, ultimately paid off at the end of the year.

“As far as the season went, I would approach every day at practice trying to work on my back pedaling technique, work on my brakes,” Breeze said. “I would go in the weight room like after our little extra workouts, just to do little things here and there to help maintain my body so I can stay healthy throughout the whole season.”

Breeze also discussed what it was like to work with first-year defensive coordinator Andy Avalos and what he expects from the Ducks next season. 

Oregon Ducks hire a coach, just not an offensive coordinator

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Oregon Ducks hire a coach, just not an offensive coordinator

An addition to the Oregon Ducks coaching staff was revealed on Friday, but it's not the one many people were expecting.

Since news came earlier this week that the Ducks were expected to hire former Mississippi State head coach Joe Moorhead as their new offensive coordinator, many wondered when the university would make the news official. 

Well, it wasn't Friday. 

Although, Mario Cristobal did add to his coaching staff.

Jalen Ortiz, recently a defensive graduate assistant at Wyoming, will join Oregon as an assistant coach for the defensive backs.

Ortiz's Twitter account also lists "Defensive Graduate Assistant UO" in the description of his profile. 

Jalen Ortiz spent two seasons as a graduate assistant with the Wyoming Football program.

As a defensive graduate assistant in 2018, Ortiz helped coach a Cowboy defense that ranked No. 19 in the nation in total defense (allowing opponents only 326.2 yards per game), were No. 25 in the NCAA in rushing defense (129.5 yards per game), ranked No. 28 in scoring defense (giving up only 22.0 points per game) and were No. 32 in pass defense (196.7 yards per game).  The UW defense also ranked No. 16 in the country in fewest first downs allowed to opponents (223).       

Ortiz completed his college playing career with the Cowboys in 2017.  Ortiz was Wyoming’s starting strong-side (SAM) linebacker and nickel back in 2017. He was a transfer from UCLA where in two seasons, Ortiz appeared in 26 games. 

He'll work under defensive coordinator Andy Avalos and presumably co-defensive coordinator/safeties coach Keith Heyward and cornerbacks coach Donte Williams. 

Report: Former Oregon OC Matt Lubick to join Scott Frost's staff at Nebraska

Report: Former Oregon OC Matt Lubick to join Scott Frost's staff at Nebraska

Matt Lubick is back in the coaching game and reuniting with a former coaching teammate. According to reports, the former Oregon offensive coordinator will be joining Scott Frost's staff at Nebraska. 

Lubick coached at Oregon from 2013 to 2016. He was originally hired to be the new wide receivers coach when Scotts Frost, who was then the wide receivers coach, was promoted to offensive coordinator. Frost left Oregon in 2016 to become head coach at Central Florida, and Lubick once again filled his vacated position. 

The Ducks went 4-8 in Lubick's first year as OC and head coach Mark Helfrich was let go at season's end. The Ducks would go on to hire Willie Taggart as head coach, and  Taggert chose not to retain Lubick.

After leaving Oregon, Lubick would spend two seasons as wide receivers coach and co-offensive coordinator at the University of Washington before leaving coaching altogether in 2018 to pursue other business opportunities. 

Now he is back, thanks to old friend Scott Frost.

In Frost's two seasons at the helm in Lincoln, the Cornhuskers have gone just 9-15, finishing in fifth place in the Big Ten West both seasons. 

With Lubick, Nebraska brings in a coach that has experience not only running an offense, but experience working directly with coach Frost.

One interesting thing to note is that over the past two seasons with former offensive coordinator Troy Walters, Frost handled the play-calling duties. It remains to be seen if that will remain the same, or if Frost will let go of the reins a little bit and let Lubick takeover. 

Either way, Lubick may just be the shot in the arm that the Cornhuskers need to finally get Nebraksa Football back on the right track. 

 

WATCH: Penei Sewell's emotional acceptance speech of the Outland Trophy

WATCH: Penei Sewell's emotional acceptance speech of the Outland Trophy

A month ago, Oregon offensive lineman Penei Sewell won the Outland Trophy which recognizes the nation's top interior lineman.

He became the first Oregon Duck and the first Polynesian football player to win the award.

In his emotional acceptance speech, he remembers talking to Coach Cristobal about winning the award and bringing it to Eugene.

I will never forget. It was right after fall camp, before the season started, [Cristobal] looked me in the eye and said 'Don't wait. Go get it this year.' Well coach, I'm here and I went and got it.

Sewell clearly adores his head coach: "The trust you have in me and the confidence you gave to me is the reason why I'm standing here. And I'm forever grateful for you. Forever thankful for the way you've treated me and my family. You are a man of your word."

But reading the quotes doesn't do his speech justice, watch it for yourself. 

 

Oregon Ducks land 2020 four-star point guard Jalen Terry

Oregon Ducks land 2020 four-star point guard Jalen Terry

After the reclassification of N'Faly Daunte and Addison Patterson to the 2019 class, the Ducks did not have a commitment for the 2020 recruiting class.

That changed Friday when four-star point guard Jalen Terry announced via his Twitter he will be attending the University of Oregon.

247Sports has Terry rated as the nation's seventh-ranked point guard in next year's class. He'll look to take over for Payton Pritchard who will graduate this upcoming season. 

Terry originally committed to Michigan State, but later changed his mind. He chose Oregon over Louisville and LSU. 

You can watch his junior season mixtape below.

Former Duck Bralon Addison signs future contract with the Minnesota Vikings

Former Duck Bralon Addison signs future contract with the Minnesota Vikings

What do you and Vikings general manager Rick Spielman have in common?

You're both fans of the Oregon Ducks, apparently.

Days after signing Tony Brooks-James and Dillon Mitchell to future contracts for the 2020-2021 NFL season, the Vikings have also signed another former Duck: wide receiver Bralon Addison.

Farhan Lalji of TSN reports that the wideout turned down similar offers from the San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns. 

At Oregon, Addison caught 146 passes for 1,937 yards and 20 touchdowns. Following his junior season, he declared for the NFL Draft, but did not hear his name called. He received a camp invitation from Denver, but was later cut. He eventually worked his way from the Bears' practice squad to the active roster where he recorded his only career reception before being waived.

Then the Missouri City, Texas native went north to the Canadian Football League where he groomed into a CFL All-Star for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats this past season recording 95 receptions for 1,236 yards and seven touchdowns.

Addison's former teammate, Kenjon Barner, took to Twitter to congratulate his fellow Duck.   

Stay tuned for the next Duck to sign with the Vikings, which seems inevitable.

Sabrina Ionescu becomes Oregon’s All-Time leader in points and All-Time savage in same night

Sabrina Ionescu becomes Oregon’s All-Time leader in points and All-Time savage in same night

EUGENE - A breaker of records and a breaker of hearts.

This is Sabrina Ionescu.

On a night where Ionescu had to play her best, she came through. Against No. 3 Stanford, in front of 12,218 screaming fans and on national television, this is where Ionescu shines brightest. She was just short of what would have been her 23rd career triple-double with 37 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists in the 32-point win over Stanford.

No. 6 Oregon (14-2, 4-1 Pac-12) upsets No. 3 Stanford (15-2, 4-1 Pac-12) 87-55 in Matthew Knight Arena.

Ionescu needed 25 points coming into this game to break the all-time scoring record previously set by Alison Lang (2,252, 1980-84). When she had recorded her 24th point, the crowd knew exactly what was at stake. When she drove left and sunk an elbow jumper, the crowd went nuts.

But in Ionescu’s mind it was just another basket. Just another basket in a big time game. At the following timeout, the stadium’s big screen showed her in the Ducks huddle and the crowd went nuts again.

Another milestone reached for the Walnut Creek, California-native and against a team located just shy of an hour from her hometown.

I’m just happy we won but like he [Graves] said, they’re [Stanford] the standard of excellence. Game in and game out that I’ve played them in my career here, that’s who I want to beat. Especially coming from the Bay Area and growing up with them in my backyard then choosing to leave and come here, it’s awesome to be able to play them. Obviously, I know a lot of their players and grew up playing with a lot of them so it’s always been competitive every time we play them and tonight it was. — Ionescu

The stat line is impressive, to say the least. But what makes Sabrina Ionescu the G.O.A.T that she truly is, is her attitude and mindset. It starts with a mamba mentality, a shark in the water, a “stay mad” type of grind. 

She seems to always do it on night’s like this too. When her best is needed, that’s when she usually steps up. I know sometimes against some opponents she isn’t as ready maybe mentally or that into it, but in games like this, she just has that other level to go to. And thank goodness. — Oregon coach Kelly Graves.

That mentality did not shut off when she subbed out with under a minute of game clock remaining. After putting in 38 minutes of work and the Ducks with a more than comfortable 30+ point lead, Ionescu etched her name onto Oregon’s Mt. Rushmore of savage moments: she waved and saluted goodbye to the Cardinal. 

When asked who she was waving / saluting at in the post game press conference, Ionescu replied with a smirk:

Stanford. I’m going to be honest.

But hey, honesty is the best policy, right? 

UP NEXT: The Ducks host the California Golden Bears on Sunday, January 19 at 2 p.m. (PT) at Matthew Knight Arena.

Sabrina Ionescu channels her inner Damian Lillard, waves bye bye to Stanford

Sabrina Ionescu channels her inner Damian Lillard, waves bye bye to Stanford

Last April, Damian Lillard and the Trail Blazers faced off against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the NBA playoffs. The series was full of drama, but the everlasting image of the series came courtesy of Portland's star point guard Damian Lillard.

The wave.

Lillard hit an improbable three-pointer over an outstretched Paul George to eliminate OKC, and as he walked away, Lillard waved goodbye to the Thunder bench. The video was replayed on every local and national sports show, and the gif circulated around the web faster than you could say "Lillard Time."

On Thursday, the scene replayed itself, but this time down I-5 at the University of Oregon.

No. 6 Oregon hosted No. 3 Stanford, a huge showdown between two top-10 teams.

It was there that Oregon star Sabrina Ionescu put on a show. Not only did she have a double-double, she also became Oregon's all-time leading scorer in the process.

Oregon blew out the Cardinal on this night, 87-55, and the lasting image that came from Thursday night's victory, gave us déjà vu. 

Two stars. Two games. Two iconic waves. One thing in common - They're both G.O.A.T.'s. But, which one did it better? You be the judge.

Well, there may not be a clear winner here, but we did learn something - All G.O.A.T.s wave the same! But if you ask former Lakers star Kobe Bryant, a G.O.A.T. in his own right, he may have a favorite in this race.