Oregon Ducks

Oregon flying in right direction with Civil War victory

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Oregon flying in right direction with Civil War victory

How Oregon won: A near brilliant first half from the young, energetic Ducks in front of a sellout crowd at Matthew Knight Arena on this 350th Civil War night. What started on the defensive end, denying passing lanes, grabbing clutch rebounds, eliminating Oregon State offensive rebounds, turned into a fast-paced yet calm, cool, and collected offensive performance. Lead by senior guard Elijah Brown’s 20 points, 18 in the first half alone, the Ducks went into halftime up 41-25 shooting 65% from the field. 

The second half was a bit different story. Oregon took its foot off the gas for a moment, and Oregon State started to claw its way back as 12,000+ Oregon fans had that “not again” look upon their faces. Not another blown lead.

Although just shooting 6-of-24 from the field in the second half, Oregon (14-7, 4-4 Pac-12) rode its lead and defeated in-state rival Oregon State (11-9, 3-5 Pac-12) 66-57 in the Civil War at Matthew Knight Arena.

Oregon coach Dana Altman said, “The biggest difference was our activity defensively, we had 17 deflections and that turned into 17 points off their turnovers. Second half we had six deflections and only two points off those turnovers. We got real stagnant offensively and some bad turnovers…”

“The defense and the rebounding were better than they were three weeks ago,” said Altman.

The Ducks learned from their mistakes the last time they faced the Beavers in Corvallis on January, 5th, 2018. In that game, Beavers’ Drew Eubanks and Tres Tinkle stole the show. Tonight, the two combined for 15 points. Every time Eubanks touched the ball down low, he was immediately met by two Ducks. Oregon turned up its ball pressure on Tinkle making it hard for him to create space and get open. 

What it means: The Ducks now sit at 4-4, .500 in the Pac-12 and will finish their last 6-of-10 games on the road. 

Last week, it was Victor Bailey Jr. The week before, Payton Pritchard. Different guys are stepping up in different times. 

“That’s what good teams do,” said Pritchard. “Last year’s team it was like that… last year we had five games and five different leading scorers. For this team to be successful, we can’t just have one guy just taking all the shots. It needs to be a team thing and you know that’s what makes good teams.”

High flying Ducks: With Brown leading the charge and drawing defenders closer to him, that left more lanes open for others to exploit. Pritchard was one of those who noticed and took advantage of it. Pritchard finished with seven points and seven assists. Redshirt junior Paul White finished with 17 points off the bench.

Foul play: White finished with four fouls. Pritchard and senior Mikyle McIntosh each finished with three fouls.

Up next: The Ducks go on the road to face the California Golden Bears (7-14, 1-7 Pac-12) at 6 PM (PT) this Thursday in Berkeley, CA.

Oregon basketball at USC: A glimmer of hope

Oregon basketball at USC: A glimmer of hope

Records: Oregon (15-10, 6-5 Pac-12), USC (14-12, 7-6)

Why watch? I know it may feel like a chore to watch this men’s basketball team at times. The Civil War loss hurt Oregon’s standings in the Pac-12 Conference, pushing the Ducks further away from securing a top four spot, which provides a first-round bye in the conference tournament. The loss also wilted Oregon’s slim chances of securing an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

If you need some hope, here it is; Trust in Oregon coach Dana Altman. Altman, who just moved into the NCAA’s top 30 all-time Division I coaches with 635 victories, historically leads the Ducks to more wins in the latter half of Pac-12  play. Under Altman, Oregon has a 53-22 record (.706) during the second half of Pac-12 play. Only Arizona, with 54, has won more games than Oregon in the back half of conference play during that span.

“We are 15-10 and we were hoping to be better at this stage, but we are not,” Altman said. “We need to focus in on the next six games and try to get better. Four of them are on the road, so that will not be an easy task.”

Washington sits atop the standings but there hasn’t been a Pac-12 team to prove domination thus far. Since any team can get hot in the Pac-12 tournament… Why not the Ducks?

High Flying Ducks

Freshman forward Louis King leads the Ducks in scoring with a 12.9 average this season, 16 points and 6.6 rebounds per game in Pac-12 play. He’s scored in double figures during 11 of 12 conference games.

However, the 6-foot-9 forward suffered a hand injury in Oregon’s loss to Oregon State. According to reporters present, King’s index and middle fingers on his right hand were taped when shot with that hand before Tuesday’s practice.

King sat out of Monday and Tuesday practice in hopes to rest and be ready for Wednesday’s practice, according to Altman.

If King can’t play against USC, the Ducks would again be down to eight scholarship players.

Junior guard Payton Pritchard is on record watch. With four more assists (421 current career assists), he will pass Luke Jackson (424 assists, 2000-04) for sixth in UO career assists.

Freshman Miles Norris is coming off a solid performance. He added a boost from the bench, scoring seven points and setting career highs in rebounds (5), blocks (3) and minutes (17).

Trojans to keep an eye on

Bennie Boatwright is coming off a record game in USC’s win at California. The 6-10 senior made a USC record 10 three-pointers and tied the Pac-12 single-game mark.

Wooten will have his hands full with 6-foot-11 Nick Rakocevic, the Pac-12’s leader in double-doubles. Along with his 13 double-doubles, he also has five games with 20 or more points and 10 or more rebounds, leading all Pac-12 players.

USC freshman Kevin Porter, who was suspended for the earlier meeting with the Ducks, is averaging 9.3 points per game off the bench.

Shut down the arc

Oregon’s three-point defense must be on point against the Trojans. USC is shooting 38.7 percent from three-point range this season which leads all Pac-12 teams and ranks 20th in the country.

Number to know: The last five years, Oregon is 25-4 after Valentine’s Day in Pac-12 Conference games, according to UO game notes.

How and where to watch

Time: Thursday, Feb. 21, 6:05 p.m

Where: Galen Center, Los Angeles, California

TV: ESPN

More Ducks:

It’s Juwan Johnson’s opportunity to grasp or waste

New flock on the block: Mario Cristobal makes it official for three new coaches

Justin Timberlake rocks Oregon Ducks shoes for concert in Portland

Leavitt didn’t fit Cristobal’s vision; A decade in the making

It’s Juwan Johnson’s opportunity to grasp or waste

It’s Juwan Johnson’s opportunity to grasp or waste

Penn State graduate transfer Juwan Johnson is stepping into a prime opportunity at Oregon.

The 6-foot-4, 230-pound veteran receiver, who announced plans to become a graduate transfer in January, committed to Oregon and will soon be catching passes from Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert. The senior is already on 2019 Heisman Trophy watch lists and, with Dillon Mitchell’s NFL departure, needs someone to throw to.  

In other words, there is a vacancy for Oregon’s next top receiver.

Wait, are you having deja vu?

Probably. The same question surrounded Oregon’s wide receivers and tight ends entering the 2018 season: Who will Herbert sling the ball to?

Last season, Wake Forest grad transfer Tabari Hines was brought in to provide a veteran presence. Expectations were high for Hines, however, he had a procedure performed on his left knee and played sparingly before announcing he'd leave the Oregon program midway through the season. Hines utilized his redshirt, transferred to N.C. State and is looking forward to a healthy final year of college football. 

“It’s a blessing itself just to have the opportunity (at Oregon)”, Hines said of Oregon’s new grad transfer Johnson. “But opportunity itself doesn’t guarantee anything without preparation”.

Hines’ advice to Johnson?

“With the amount of resources there are at Oregon, if you put them to use you should take huge strides as a player and person.”

Last season will be remembered as the year of Mitchell, who had the best individual receiving season in program history.

Johnson could be the answer in 2019. He will enroll at Oregon this summer after completing a communications degree at Penn State. He brings needed experience to the position: played in 16 more games than the Ducks’ most veteran player Brenden Schooler (21 games). His large, powerful, physical frame is unlike the other receivers currently on Oregon’s roster along with his ability to power through and over defensive backs. He’s proved he can put up big numbers; in 2017, he caught 54 passes for 701 yards and averaged 13 yards per reception.

However, proceed with caution before you write him in as Oregon’s next offensive weapon. Johnson is coming of a low production 2018 season (25 passes for 352 yards) after a lot of preseason hype (like being named a top-10 2019 NFL Draft pick). His season was plagued with dropped passes and he missed games with injuries. By Penn State’s bowl game, Johnson was demoted to second string.

Letting catchable balls hit the turf was one of the main problems for Oregon’s receivers in 2018, something new wide receivers coach Jovon Bouknight will be tasked with fixing.

Johnson isn’t the only new face vying for playing time in Oregon’s receivers room. The Ducks signed incoming freshmen Josh Delgado, Mycah Pittman, Lance Willhoite and J.R. Waters. Any of the four signees could make an impact immediately.

The fresh faces join returners Jaylon Redd, Johnny Johnson III, Brendan Schooler, Bryan Addison and Isaah Crocker. Redd gives Oregon a speed option in the slot and finished second on the team in receptions (38), yards (433) and touchdowns (5) in 2018.

Will the returners figure out how to improve production? Will there be one fresh face to become an Oregon household name in 2019?

Hines says he’s looking forward to current players on the roster who could emerge this season. Specifically he mentioned the trio of Addison, Crocker and Johnson III, who he says have been “waiting for their moment”.

The moment has arrived and Juwan Johnson is the newest (and biggest) receiver to join the fight for playing time.

New flock on the block: Mario Cristobal makes it official for three new coaches

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Oregon Football

New flock on the block: Mario Cristobal makes it official for three new coaches

Mario Cristobal has made it official: Jovon Bouknight, Ken Wilson, and Kenny Sanders are apart of the Oregon football family.

After the departure of Michael Johnson (two seasons coaching the Ducks wide receivers) and Jim Leavitt (who never quite fit the Cristobal mold), Cristobal welcomes in three new faces to his coaching staff.   

Let’s take a deeper look at these new additions.

Jovon Bouknight: wide receivers

It was a season plagued by drops for the Oregon Ducks wide receiver corp. Besides junior Dillon Mitchell, who declared for the 2019 NFL Draft, there were glimpses of potential by his supporting cast of Jaylon Redd, Johnny Johnson and Brenden Schooler. 

With former coach Michael Johnson now with the Bulldogs at Mississippi State, Bouknight will have an opportunity to coach this group as well as the young stars coming in and Oregon’s new graduate transfer Juwan Johnson. 

Bouknight spent a majority of his coaching career at Utah State (10 years) before a quick stint with Texas Tech. His tenure at Utah State coincided with the program's most-successful stretch in school history as the Aggies reached seven bowl games in a span of eight years and claimed the 2012 Western Athletic Conference title. 

Cristobal says, “Jovon is a tireless worker who brings passion, energy and commitment to our staff. His experience as a player and ability to teach the game will make him a great mentor for our wide receivers. Jovon has built a reputation as a great recruiter and his familiarity with the West Coast will help us to continue to bring elite talent to the University of Oregon.”

This position needs a strong turnaround next season. Who will be Justin Herbert’s new go-to guy? Will Redd continue to get better and better or will a fresh face be the next great Ducks receiver?

Ken Wilson: inside linebackers

The third coach to be hired away from Washington State University (Joe Salave’a and Jim Mastro), Wilson will fit with the other Oregon coaches nicely. If Cristobal wanted a guy with experience, he got his man in Wilson.

Owning nearly 30 years of coaching experience, Wilson spent 19 years on the Nevada staff, which included five seasons as associate head coach and four as defensive coordinator, before his six seasons (2013-18) at Washington State. He has been part of 16 teams that have advanced to a bowl game, including 13 of the last 14 years.

After stud linebacker Troy Dye announced he would return to Oregon for his senior season following Oregon’s 7-6 Redbox Bowl win over Michigan State, Wilson will have the player leadership he needs through Dye to help bridge that player-coach relationship. 

Cristobal says, “Ken has worked extensively with inside and outside linebackers and brings a complete body of work to the defensive side of the ball. He has developed NFL players at several positions and I can’t wait for him to get to work with our guys. He already has great connections with our staff, and I have no doubt he will make an immediate impact on our program.”

Kenny Sanders: recruiting

Arguably one of the biggest, least recognized pieces to the entirety that is college football. If there is anything that Cristobal looks for when hiring a new coach, recruiting power has to be one of them. It allows a coach to expand their program not just within their state but nation wide. Cristobal has been recruiting high school players from all over the country (recently three new signees: Utah, Alabama, and Florida).

Sanders arrives after spending the last five years as the assistant director of player personnel at Penn State. He helped the Nittany Lions land five consecutive recruiting classes ranked in the top 20 nationally, highlighted by the country’s No. 6 class in 2018.

Cristobal says, “Kenny’s experience in the NFL and the collegiate level combined with his commitment to those he works with make him the right leader for our recruiting department. He has a great feel as an evaluator, but, more importantly, a professionalism and demeanor that allow him to forge great relationships with prospects and their families.”

Justin Timberlake rocks Oregon Ducks shoes for concert in Portland

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98.7 the bull

Justin Timberlake rocks Oregon Ducks shoes for concert in Portland

Justin Timberlake returned to Portland for the first time in four years and he performed in Oregon Ducks sneakers. Timberlake wore the Oregon Air Jordan 3 TH during his 'Man of the Woods' tour to the Moda Center in Portland on Monday night.

Timberlake also worked with Nike designer Tinker Hatfield on a limited-edition Air Jordan III JTH collection for his tour

Beavers sweep Ducks as time winds down for Oregon basketball

Beavers sweep Ducks as time winds down for Oregon basketball

There wasn’t a fan in orange and black without a smile after Oregon State beat rival Oregon, 72-57, in front of a sold out, frenzied 9,301 crowd and improved to second in the Pac-12 Conference.

Following the Beavers’ first Civil War sweep since the 2009-10 season, OSU players hooted in the locker room and fifth year coach Wayne Tinkle walked down the hallway of Gill Coliseum high-fiving everyone in sight.

There was no high fives on other side of hallway as the Ducks (15-10) fell to 6-6 in conference play.

Oregon coach Dana Altman and redshirt senior Paul White spoke to the media with heads bowed, laying out all the reasons why the Ducks’ didn’t find success. To name a few; committing 18 turnovers, allowing OSU(16-8, 8-4 Pac-12) to shoot 49 percent and a 9-0 run to open the second half.

In a game where long scoring droughts plagued the Ducks, White pointed to his team’s concentration and motivation.

“We lost this game because we lost focus,” White, who finished with 12 points and five rebounds, said. “First half we did a good job. The second half we gave them too many easy baskets and it bit us in the butt."

The loss was freshman Louis King’s first, and possibly last, game in Corvallis. King finished 5-of-7 from beyond the arc, with 20 points and added a team-high eight rebounds.

Oregon desperately needed more production from junior Payton Pritchard and sophomore Kenny Wooten. Coming off of back-to-back 20 point games, against the Beavers, Pritchard shot just four times and scored only four points.

“We didn’t get him enough shots and that’s my fault," Altman said of UO’s point guard. "We need to get him more shots. He’s got to shoot the ball more than four times, and that’s my fault. That’s poor coaching."

Wooten, who battled an illness this week, was a non-factor, scoring four points with two rebounds and zero blocks.

Time is running low for the Ducks and so are their chances at making the NCAA Tournament. Oregon has yet to find a formula to win on the road and four of its final six games are away games, starting on Thursday at USC.

The loss hurt Oregon’s standings in the Pac-12, pushing the Ducks further away from securing a top four spot, which provides a first-round bye in the conference tournament.

Like White, Altman also attributes Oregon’s inconsistency to its motivation. "I think we are talented enough (to win the Pac-12 Tournament) but we need to be much more disciplined," Altman said.

The more focused team won the Civil War series, but Oregon’s next six games and beyond are still up for grabs.

What won the game for Oregon didn’t show up on the stat line

What won the game for Oregon didn’t show up on the stat line

The first chapter of the women’s Civil War was everything and more for the basketball fan: Two top-10 teams battling it out in front of a sellout 12,364 crowd at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene, Oregon. No. 3 vs. No. 9 ranked in the nation but also the top teams leading the way in the Pac-12 conference.  

While the box score shows a dominant Ducks performance from the trifecta scoring trio of Sabrina Ionescu, Ruthy Hebard, and Satou Sabally (scored 68 of the Ducks’ 77 total points), this game came down to defense and specifically that of Maite Cazorla.

One of two seniors on this Oregon squad, Cazorla has seen the works at Oregon. From her freshman year getting blown out in the Civil War in front of 900 fans and probably not sporting LeBron’s latest shoe, to four years later as the No. 3 ranked team in the country, in front of a sellout crowd, and the culture surround women’s basketball in Eugene exploding. Cazorla’s work has not gone unnoticed.

Chapter one of Civil War weekend didn’t go as she planned as her stat on Friday night line wasn’t impressive: finishing with just two points, three assists, and one rebound. She did not make a shot from the field and her two points came off free throws. Cazorla has been averaging 10.0 points and 4.9 assists per game this season.

But what doesn’t show up on the stat line is what won the game for Oregon: her defense and particularly on Oregon State star guard Destiny Slocum. Late in the game, Oregon State zeroed in on the Ducks’ lead to within four points with just over five minutes to go. This was Destiny Slocum time.

However, Cazorla was the obstacle Slocum could not get around. It was if Cazorla was in her mind, knowing exactly what her next move would be before she did. Every time Slocum made a shifty move to the hoop, Cazorla was there.

“Maite’s defense in that second half basically won us the game,” says Ionescu following the game. “She took Slocum completely out of what she did and Slocum is one of the best and quickest point guards in the country.” 

Slocum’s last basket came at with 5:20 left to play. She wouldn’t score from the field again. Just four free throws. But at that point, it was too late. The Ducks took chapter one of the Civil War with a 77-68 victory at home over Oregon State.

This wasn’t the first time Cazorla bodied up against Slocum either. Slocum began her collegiate career at the University of Maryland where they met the Ducks in the regional championship of the NCAA tournament. Oregon went on to beat Maryland 77-63, but little did they know that they would run into the speedy Slocum once more, this time in conference play two years later. 

Cazorla rose to the challenge once again. And she will have to do so again in just three days when Oregon faces Oregon State in chapter two of this Civil War weekend on Monday night, this time in Beaver territory. 

Rapid Reaction: 3 quick takeaways from Oregon’s Civil War victory over Oregon State

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NBCSNW

Rapid Reaction: 3 quick takeaways from Oregon’s Civil War victory over Oregon State

Two top-10 teams; leaders of the Pac-12 conference; sellout crowd of over 12,000 fans at Matthew Knight Arena. This was gearing up for a Civil War of the ages and it did not disappoint. 

It was close until the clock hit 00:00. Each team following the other with a run of their own. 

But in the end, it was all Ducks. The trifecta of Sabrina Ionescu, Ruthy Hebard, and Satou Sabally combined for 68 of the Ducks’ 77 total points and shot 53% from behind the arc as a team. No. 3 Oregon (24-1, 13-0 Pac-12) defeats No. 9 in-state rival Oregon State (20-5, 10-3 Pac-12) 77-68 in round one of Civil War weekend.

Here are some quick thoughts from Ashley Young, our reporter on site:

1. The battle down low: The impact Oregon State forward Joanna Grymek had on Ruthy Hebard was night and day. When Grymek was in, Hebard had trouble scoring down low. But with Grymek out, Hebard went back to her old ways of high percentage, one-dribble to the right, down low shots. Even with Hebard’s 21 points, the Beavers won the battle down low scoring 36 of their 68 total points in the paint.

2. Three-point percentage: Both Oregon and Oregon State lead the nation at three-point percentage, so whichever team could hit more three’s would build a nice lead. For Oregon, this is where Satou Sabally shined. The sophomore is Oregon’s leading scorer mostly due to her impact from three-point range. Sabally finished with 18 points, hitting five-of-seven from deep.

3. Pick-n-roll game: Ionescu and Hebard are two of the best in the country at the pick-n-roll. With under seven minutes to go and a six to ten point lead, the Ducks went with their bread and butter with the pick and roll game. The two are comfortable with one another and is almost impossible to stop. With Maite Cazorla and Erin Boley struggling on the offensive side of the ball, Ionescu and Hebard had to step up and be efficient. Hebard had two layups off the pick-n-roll while Ionescu sunk three jump shots. 

Round two of the Civil War continues on Monday in Corvallis, Oregon. Tipoff set for 6 PM (PT).

JUST IN: Oregon lands top grad transfer WR, Juwan Johnson

JUST IN: Oregon lands top grad transfer WR, Juwan Johnson

Penn State grad transfer Juwan Johnson is headed to Eugene.

The 6-foot-4, 231 pound veteran receiver, who announced plans to become a graduate transfer in January, committed to Oregon and will soon be receiving catches from Ducks quarterback Justin Herbert.

Johnson shared news of his commitment via social media on Thursday.

In his four years with Penn State, Johnson caught 81 passes for 1,123 yards and two touchdowns. He saw a dip in his production during his junior campaign, notching 25 catches for 352 yards and one touchdown.

Out of high school, he was a U.S. Army All-American and ranked No. 12 nationally, choosing Penn State over offers from Alabama, Ohio State and others.

While Oregon coach Mario Cristobal was at Alabama, he developed a relationship with Johnson during his recruitment and that connection likely carried into early February, when Johnson took his official visit to Oregon.

Johnson’s decision to join UO likely came to fruition due to Ducks need at the receiver group and Oregon football's optimism heading into the 2019 season. Dillion Mitchell, Herbert’s No. 1 target, announced in January he will not return to Oregon and will declare for the 2019 NFL Draft.

UO’s second returning receiver, sophomore Jaylen Redd, had less than half of Mitchell’s receptions and yards with 31 catches for 368 yards. No returning Oregon receiver had more than three catches or 35 yards per game last season.

Johnson will be able to make an impact immediately and provides Oregon with a veteran presence to join incoming freshmen Josh Delgado, Mycah Pittman, Lance Willhoite and J.R. Waters alongside Redd, Johnny Johnson III, Brendan Schooler, Bryan Addison and others.

Leavitt didn’t fit Cristobal’s vision; A decade in the making

Leavitt didn’t fit Cristobal’s vision; A decade in the making

Oregon coach Mario Cristobal and defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt are parting ways. I’ve heard the same thing over and over from people inside the Oregon football program… Leavitt was simply "not in Cristobal’s vision".

Have you heard about Leavitt and Cristobal’s rocky start? Their relationship started with a phone call over a decade ago, that I would consider perfect foreshadowing.

Before we get to the beginning, let’s look at the end. You could point to he sticky situation when former Oregon coach Willie Taggart left for Florida State and both vyed for the open position.  Despite Leavitt’s stronger resume, Oregon promoted Cristobal to head coach. Keep in mind, Cristobal had the recruiting prowess, the vision of “Oregon Football 2.0” and a petition with his players signatures lobbying for him to be their new coach.

After his promotion, Cristobal confronted Leavitt about the awkward situation and the two headstrong coaches put aside their personal ambitions for a season. Let’s be honest though, the lure of Oregon’s $600,000 raise probably swayed Leavitt’s decision to stay.

Whether it be that raise or the promotion, there was a tangible imbalance of power. The salaries were not typical; Leavitt earned the sixth most by a coordinator in the nation and only $800,000 less annually than Cristobal. After Leavitt successfully stabilized the Duck defense, improving Oregon's 126th ranked defense in 2016 to 28th in 2017, he took ownership and made it known Cristobal should stick to offense.

My fellow reporter Aaron Fentress said it best, “bottom line is, there was just too much friction between Cristobal and Leavitt.”

Leavitt and Cristobal, according to Fentress, nearly came to blows during a practice in 2017.

The tension has been around for longer than a decade, starting with a phone fight from 2007, detailed by Cristobal during a one-on-one interview with Fentress last year. 

Their relationship started when Florida International University, where Cristobal was head coach from 2007-12, was preparing for their upcoming game against University of South Florida. The FIU program was only three years old, and Cristobal needed to scout USF, so he called them to ask for game film (colleges must share game film with each other). At the time, USF had played two games that season, and FIU had played one game.

Cristobal requested the game film from both games. Leavitt, USF’s coach at the time, answered the call, declined and arguing ensued. 

Leavitt wanted to only share one game because he was only getting one game of film in return. Cristobal wanted to pick which of the games he received, while Leavitt questioned if he already had the film of the other one (he did). The two coaches went back and forth until Cristobal came to a realization.

“I was like, wow, this is like I’m talking to my dad here.” 

It was just a small confrontation over 10 years ago, but the foreshadowing is ironic.

Now Leavitt and Cristobal are no longer on the same team. 

Cristobal wants his coaches, his recruits, his strength and conditioning program, his offense AND his defense. Oregon football 2.0 is his vision and he’s taken another step to get there.

He made a statement by parting ways with Leavitt. If you aren’t in his vision, you won’t be around for long.

The official release from Oregon states 'a national search for a new UO defensive coordinator is underway.' However, according to sources within NBC Sports NW and multiple reports, Cristobal is expected to promote safeties coach Keith Heyward to defensive coordinator.

Heyward is apparently in Cristobal’s vision. Yes, former Oregon coach Willie Taggart hired Heyward, but Cristobal extended Heyward’s contract in 2017, when Taggart left. Cristobal called the defensive backs coach a “rising star” and according to Fentress, Heyward and Taggart were the coaches behind Oregon's defense that shut down Arizona and quarterback Khalil Tate in 2017. Then, entering the 2018 season, Cristobal added co-defensive coordinator duties to Heyward’s role.  

With the highest ever recruiting class coming to Eugene and his staff in place, the 2019 Oregon football season is all on Cristobal, top to bottom.