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.

Pac-12 'will not engage' in players' demand of 50% revenue split

Pac-12 'will not engage' in players' demand of 50% revenue split

A group of conference players and Pac-12 leaders had a "productive" call about the players potentially boycotting the 2020 season, but the Pac-12 made it clear that "they will not engage" in negotiating the players' demand of a 50% share of revenue, per Ross Dellenger of Sports Illustrated. 

Pac-12 leaders pushed back against the players’ demand for each sports’ participants to receive a cut of the conference revenue. Conference officials told #WeAreUnited members that such a move would lead to athletes becoming employees and would impact those athletes who do not participate in revenue-generating sports. 

[Listen and download for free ‘Sports Uncovered: The uniform craze that revolutionized college football].

On Sunday, hundreds of Pac-12 college football players, including Oregon safety Jevon Holland and Oregon State cornerback Jaydon Grant, released an open letter titled "#WeAreUnited" in the Players' Tribune making many demands including the ability to receive payments, preserving safety during the coronavirus pandemic, and greater racial justice policies. 

[RELATED]: What Jevon Holland, Pac-12 CFB players are demanding or else they'll sit

On Wednesday, an email was sent out to the #WeAreUnited group where commissioner Larry Scott proposed a Zoom call at 8 p.m. PT Thursday to discuss the athletes’ list of demands.

The call included Scott, ASU athletic director Ray Anderson, Utah athletic director Mark Harlan and Pac-12 assistant commissioner Chris Merino, and 12 student-athletes. 

Sports Illustrated reports that the call was primarily focused on the concerns about COVID-19 from the players with the talk being considered "constructive." There was little talk of the boycott, little talk of the revenue sharing, and no talk of Scott and other conference officials taking a pay cut.

Scott, who took home $5.3 million in 2018 which was good for second among NCAA conference commissioners, agreed to take a 20% salary reduction in April for 2020.  

Another key topic discussed was the protocol if a player decides to opt-out of the season. The NCAA has a deadline of next Friday, August 14, but the players want more clarity; will their roster spot/scholarship be saved for a year? Will it count as a redshirt season even if that player has already redshirted? What if only part of the season gets played? 

No follow-up meeting has been scheduled but the two sides are expected to follow up next week. 

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent]

UCLA coach Chip Kelly tested positive for coronavirus early in pandemic

UCLA coach Chip Kelly tested positive for coronavirus early in pandemic

In the uncertain world of collegiate football this upcoming season, one thing is clear: UCLA head coach Chip Kelly’s time in Los Angeles has been a rollercoaster. 

The former Oregon Duck head coach is in his third season leading the Bruins as head coach. In his first two seasons, the Bruins posted a 3-9 and 4-8 Pac-12 conference record and have failed to reach a bowl game in either season.

And then the coronavirus pandemic hit.

[Listen and download for free ‘Sports Uncovered: The uniform craze that revolutionized college football].

[RELATED]: Chip Kelly has lost the trust of 30 UCLA football players-- here's why

On June 19, 2020, J. Brady McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reported that 30 players on the team have submitted a document asking for a “third-party health official” to oversee compliance when voluntary workouts start on Monday.

“These demands reflect our call for an environment in which we do not feel pressured to return to competition and if we choose not to return, that our decision will be respected,” the document reads. “If our demands are not met, we will refrain from booster events, recruiting events and all football-related promotional activities. The decision to return to training amidst a global pandemic has put us, the student-athletes, on the frontlines of a battle that we as a nation have not yet been able to win. We feel that as some of the first members of the community to attempt a return to normalcy, we must have assurances that allow us to make informed decisions and be protected regardless of our decision.”

Players felt that if they chose not to participate in football-related activities amidst this coronavirus pandemic, their decision to do so would not have been respected. Basically, putting the game of football ahead of human life. 

On Thursday, Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times reported that the UCLA football coach tested positive for CIVD-19 in late March after campus was shut down, according to multiple people close to the football team who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss a private health issue.

Irony, to say the least.

According to the article, both Kelly and his wife Jill tested positive and recovered at home. Eight UCLA players tested positive upon their return to campus beginning in late June, but none have tested positive since resuming workouts, according to one person close to the team.

However, since Kelly and eight players have contracted the virus, things have changed. Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson had this to say on his head coach:

“He has done a phenomenal job working with everybody as well as the health department, the players and the staff of really putting together a plan, and guys are doing a really good job of following that plan and so I’m really happy that we’re all mature enough now to really social distance and follow the guidelines that are set for us.”

Read the full article in the L.A. Times here.

Let’s hope this continues to be under control with the Pac-12 announcing the football season will start in late September.

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest Oregon women’s basketball head coach Kelly Graves].

Kelly Graves on next year’s team: “Talent-wise, this is the best group we’ve ever had”

Kelly Graves on next year’s team: “Talent-wise, this is the best group we’ve ever had”

The Sabrina Ionescu, Ruthy Hebard and Satou Sabally era has concluded in Eugene, Oregon. All three have found new homes in the WNBA. Now, the 2020-2021 season at Matthew Knight Arena will look a tad different, but expectations remain the same.

While these three were a huge part in bringing national attention, elite talent and building a prominent program at Oregon, it’s time to turn the page on the next group likely to continue the momentum. 

Oregon women’s basketball head coach Kelly Graves joined host Jordan Kent on the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast to discuss the potential of this very young but very dangerous 2020 team.

We have enormous potential. I think talent wise, this is the best group we’ve ever had but they’re just young… The one thing that I noticed that we can do as good as any group that I’ve ever coached is we can really shoot the ball. — Kelly Graves

[Listen and download for free ‘Sports Uncovered: The uniform craze that revolutionized college football].

Here’s a look at the roster for next season:

RETURNERS:

Erin Boley, Lydia Giomo, Taylor Chavez, Jaz Shelley, and the long-waited debut of Sedona Prince (who had to sit out last season because the NCAA denied her appeal to play right away after transferring from Texas) and Nyara Sabally, the younger sister of Satou Sabally who is coming off injury.

TRANSFERS:

5-foot-11 junior guard Taylor Mikesell was granted immediate eligibility by the NCAA after transferring from Maryland this offseason. And then junior Arielle Wilson, a 6-foot-6 forward from Kilgore College.

FRESHMEN:

All five freshmen who signed with the Ducks in this 2020 class earned their respected state’s Player of the Year Award, were all individually ranked as five star players by ESPN, and is the reason why Graves landed the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation.

In the video above, Graves was giddy and smiling ear to ear when talking about the shooting arsenal he has to work with next season.

Let’s start with Erin "Buckets" Boley, the only returning starter from last season. In 2019, Boley shot 44.1% from 3-PT range. Chavez, who is expected to step into a larger role this upcoming season, has proven herself as a lock down defender while also hitting 47.4% from 3-PT range. Jaz Shelley hit a program-record 10 three-pointers in a single game last season and finished her freshman year hitting 42% from 3-PT range. Last season at Maryland, Taylor Mikesell shot 41.8 percent from 3-PT range. 

The amount of firepower Graves has to work with next season is laughable.

Last season, the Ducks lead the nation in scoring per game (86.0) due to the talent and sharp-shooting as well as Graves’ offensive schemes. 

So while the roster changes, the expectations don’t.

Sabrina Ionescu sends inspiring message to young WNBA fan 

Sabrina Ionescu sends inspiring message to young WNBA fan 

Sabrina Ionescu is the kind of role model all young girls need.

The WNBA star, New York Liberty No. 1 pick, Oregon legend and NCAA triple-double queen is one of the most fiery and passionate basketball players on the planet.  

But when she’s not cookin’ triple doubles on the court and shutting down misogynistic trolls, Ionescu is serving up a message to young girls that women can play the game of basketball just as well as men. 

On Thursday, Twitter user @diandraann shared out a photo of her 7-year-old daughter Julisabel, who received a very special message from the G.O.A.T. herself.  

“Thank you for watching my first WNBA game! Like your mom said, you can do anything. I teamed up with Nike to send you some basketball gear so you can start playing the game just like me and my teammates. Enjoy!”

[Listen and download for free ‘Sports Uncovered: The uniform craze that revolutionized college football].

Sabrina sent Julisabel more than a handwritten note, the WNBA superstar also delivered Nike gear and Liberty swag. 

Her mom replied with this response: “In a world full of people telling her she can’t, I’m so proud for the ones telling her she CAN. This is why the WNBA is so important.”

Many on Twitter were humbled by Ionescu’s inspirational gesture. 

The world truly needs more role models like Sabrina. Not all heroes wear capes. 

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent]

 

Oregon Ducks land at No. 9 on USA Today coaches poll for the 2020 season

Oregon Ducks land at No. 9 on USA Today coaches poll for the 2020 season

It looks like the Ducks are the team to beat in the eyes of Mario Cristobal and his coaching peers.

The Pac-12 defending champion Ducks ranked No.9 in the Amway USA Today Coaches Poll released earlier today. 

Other Pac-12 teams in the coaches poll include No. 17 USC and No. 20 Utah.

[Listen and download for free ‘Sports Uncovered: The uniform craze that revolutionized college football].

Other Pac-12 schools such as Arizona State, Washington, Washington State, California, and Stanford received votes but did not make the top 25 this year.

The Ducks are coming off a 12-2 finish to Cristobal’s second season as head coach, as well as beating Utah in the Pac-12 championship game and finishing off the season with a dramatic Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin.

Oregon finished No. 5 in the final Associated Press poll. The 2020 preseason AP poll will be released Aug. 17 when the Ducks are expected to open fall camp.

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent]

Oregon Ducks 4-star LB commit Keith Brown to sit out senior HS season

Oregon Ducks 4-star LB commit Keith Brown to sit out senior HS season

Oregon high school football has seen the last of one of the best in-state prospects of the last few years. 

Lebanon High School inside linebacker and Oregon Ducks commit Keith Brown has announced he will sit out his senior season in wake of the OSAA announcing that all fall sports, including football, will be moved to begin in March.

"I Will Be Forgoing My Senior Season Due To Fall Sports Being Pushed To The Spring," tweeted Brown. "Thank You Highschool Football. KB Out." 

He later confirmed he will be early enrolling at the University of Oregon to participate in spring football in preparation for his true freshman season. 

[Listen and download for free ‘Sports Uncovered: The uniform craze that revolutionized college football].

Four-star center commit Jackson Light also confirmed he will enroll early.

Brown committed to the University of Oregon following a visit during the Ducks rivalry game against Oregon State last November. At the time, he was the nation's highest-rated inside linebacker in the 2021 recruiting class.

[RELATED]: Oregon lands nation's No. 1 inside linebacker 2021 recruit Keith Brown

Since then, he has fallen to "only" the nation's No. 4 inside linebacker and the 98th overall player in the country as a composite four-star recruit. 

Since his commitment, Brown has been vocal in recruiting other top high school prospects to join the flock en route to the nation's No. 4 composite recruiting class in 2021. 

With so much talent coming to Eugene, Brown is confident that the program will be competing for a national championship. 

"[We will have] the No. 1 defense in the country, and we’ll be in the national championship without a doubt because we’ll have good guys coming in," Brown told The Athletic about what he sees the 2022 Oregon football team accomplishing.

[RELATED]: Two words keep coming up in why recruits choose Oregon: National Championship

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent]

What we learned from the NCAA’s announcement regarding fall sports

What we learned from the NCAA’s announcement regarding fall sports

The state of college football and other Division I sports in the fall remains uncertain due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Each power 5 conference (besides the Big 12) has announced a new 2020 football schedule with solely conference opponents starting in late September. The Big Ten was the last of the power 5 conferences to make this announcement, which occurred on Wednesday.

Now that all power 5 conferences have slated a conference-only football schedule, the NCAA Board of Directors also announced on Wednesday to let each school and conference decide on what to do about fall sports relating to preseason, regular season and postseason activities.

The NCAA Board of Governors has directed schools and conferences to meet specific requirements if they are to conduct NCAA fall sports during the preseason, regular season and postseason. Further, each division is directed to determine its ability to meet those requirements to conduct fall championships.

OPT OUT

All student-athletes must be allowed to opt out of participation due to concerns about contracting COVID-19. If a college athlete chooses to opt out, that individual’s athletic scholarship commitment must be honored by the college or university.

ELIGIBILITY

Each division must determine no later than Aug. 14 the eligibility accommodations that must be made for student-athletes who opt out of participating this fall or for those whose seasons are canceled or cut short due to COVID-19. College athletes and their families must know what their eligibility status will be before beginning the fall season.

MEDICAL EXPENSES

Member schools may not require student-athlete to waive their legal rights regarding COVID-19 as a condition of athletics participation. Member schools, in conjunction with existing insurance standards, must cover COVID-19 related medical expenses for student-athletes to prevent out-of-pocket expenses for college athletes and their families. 

REPORTING

The NCAA will establish a phone number and email to allow college athletes, parents or others to report alleged failures. The association will notify school and conference administrators, who will be expected to take immediate action.

The divisions must determine by Aug. 21 whether their respective fall sports seasons and NCAA championships should occur this year.

While the NCAA preaches the health and safety of the student-athletes at the forefront of all these decisions, there is still some skepticism about what certain people will do in order to have football in the fall.

For example, Colorado State is currently being investigated after rumors of student-athletes being intimidated and threatened as leaders sought to disregard COVID-19 protocols. 

We are also seeing several top NFL prospects opting out of the 2020 season.

Oregon junior safety Jevon Holland, along with several other Pac-12 players, took a stand this week with the #WeAreUnited movement on social media and a letter in The Players’ Tribune.

[RELATED]: What Jevon Holland, Pac-12 CFB players are demanding or else they'll sit

“We’re not your entertainment, we’re human beings,” Holland told Sports Illustrated. “Just like you would help your family, we want to help our mother, father, grandmother, everyone.

“We don’t know the long term risks. We have no idea how it’s going to affect our body regardless if we show symptoms or not. I refuse to put my health at risk for somebody else’s benefit.”

Oregon State safety Jaydon Grant also jumped on the #WeAreUnited movement too and stated that the Pac-12 is 'rushing football back for money':

At what point are we putting football over human lives? Based on the NCAA's decision, it's in the hands of the schools and conferences but most importantly, the players.

The first look at Marcus Mariota in a Las Vegas Raiders uniform

The first look at Marcus Mariota in a Las Vegas Raiders uniform

Marcus Mariota has gone to the dark side.

The Las Vegas Raiders’ newest quarterback showed off his classic silver and black uniform for the first time and it’s quickly growing on us.

Many fans of MariGOATa took to Twitter to praise the look.  

[Listen and download for free ‘Sports Uncovered: The uniform craze that revolutionized college football].

The former Oregon Duck signed with the Raiders this past offseason to become Derek Carr’s backup quarterback. But Mariota has been so impressive that many have been left wondering if the 2015 second-overall pick could break open the quarterback competition.

He’s earned high praise from his head coach so far.

“I’ve been impressed,” John Gruden told Raiders.com. “The number one thing with Marcus was to get healthy. He had a shoulder problem, an ankle problem, so it’s a real credit to him to get his injury rehab done during all of this social distancing. The distraction of finding a doctor, being safe, and he did a great job of getting himself healthy and learning the system.”

[RELATED: Raiders coach Jon Gruden wants to let Marcus Mariota be Marcus Mariota]

Carr is coming off a quietly stellar season in 2019. He had 4,054 yards passing and a 70.4 completion percentage, becoming just the third quarterback in NFL history to have 4,000 or more passing yards and a 70% or better completion rate in a single season, per NFL Research. 

While Carr knows Mariota is a competitor, that doesn’t mean there’s a quarterback controversy between the two. The 29-year-old feels like he still has a lot to prove.

Me and Marcus get along great. We always have. I’ll tell you one thing; in our quarterback group you have to compete and that’s what I do. Anyone that’s around me, all I’m going to do is compete.

You can go through the list about who’s started games and who’s been in our quarterback room. It happens all the time, but when you go 7-9, people like to make up stuff. --  Carr told reporters on Tuesday

The Raiders heavily incentivized Mariota’s two-year contract which could pay off if the former Ducks star beats out Carr for the starting gig.

The deal, worth $17.6 million with the first year guaranteed, includes incentives such as $2.1 million if he plays more than 60% of the snaps in 2020 plus other performance and playing time-related bonuses that could double the overall value of the contract.

Mariota started four-straight seasons for the Tennessee Titans before being benched in Week 6 in favor of Ryan Tannehill, who led the Titans to the AFC championship game.

For now, the Raiders are Derek Carr’s team. But that won’t stop people from speculating whether or not 2020 is the year Mariota becomes fully rejuvenated in Las Vegas.

[Listen to the full Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest Josh Jamieson, Director of Operations of Oregon men’s basketball].

Former Ducks star Sabrina Ionescu to see specialist after suffering ankle injury

Former Ducks star Sabrina Ionescu to see specialist after suffering ankle injury

Sabrina Ionescu is officially leaving the Wubble. 

The Oregon superstar and New York Liberty No.1 pick will head back to the Big Apple to visit a foot and ankle specialist after suffering what was diagnosed as a Grade 3 ankle sprain against the Atlanta Dream on Friday. 

The Liberty confirmed the news Wednesday. 

[Listen and download for free ‘Sports Uncovered: The uniform craze that revolutionized college football].

The injury occurred when Ionescu stepped on Betnijah Laney’s foot while bringing the ball up the court. The 22-year-old fell to the floor and had to be helped to the locker room. She was seen on crutches Sunday. 

[RELATED: Sabrina Ionescu helped off the court after ankle injury, X-rays negative]

By seeing a specialist outside the WNBA Bubble, Ionescu will be able to confirm the severity of the sprain. If it is indeed a Grade 3, the most serious type of ankle sprain, Ionescu’s rookie season is in jeopardy, considering the season is only 22 games long. A Grade 3 sprain can take several weeks to several months to heal. 

The injury certainly throws a wrench in the Ionescu’s ROY contention. After Ionescu shot just 4-of-17 from the field in her WNBA debut, she dropped 33 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists in the Liberty’s 93-80 loss to the Dallas Wings. 

In her first three appearances, Ionescu was averaging 18.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.0 assists. 

The Liberty are currently 0-4 and in a rebuilding year with seven rookies on their 12-player roster. New York is not expected to make the postseason and will likely have six weeks remaining of their season.  

If or when Ionescu returns to the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, she’ll have to undergo the required 4-7 day quarantine period, as outlined by the coronavirus health and safety protocols. She’ll also have more rounds of COVID-19 testing to follow upon her arrival.

[Listen to the full Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest Josh Jamieson, Director of Operations of Oregon men’s basketball].