Oregon Ducks

Oregon Mailbag: Who is really calling plays? What's the deal with the horn?

Oregon Mailbag: Who is really calling plays? What's the deal with the horn?

Each week I will answer five of your best questions from Twitter or Instagram.

Who is really calling plays? Will that screeching horn continue to roar through Autzen Stadium? Which running backs will get the most touches? Plus, a look ahead to the toughest road game and how you can stay informed on all things Duck football related.

Question from Thurios on Twitter: Coach Cristobal has said he reserves the right to change a defensive or offensive play call by the respective coordinators. What criteria must occur to cause him to do that?

Answer: Co-offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo and defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt are Oregon's play callers. With that said, Cristobal meets with Arroyo and Leavitt throughout the week to help game plan, including game day to review and change any schemes and all situations. As head coach, he reserves his veto right. Therefore, the criteria for him to change a play is up to him.

 “I’m always on the headset with both sides because if there is a call that I feel really isn’t the best call for us at the time, then I’ll do whatever necessary to make sure we get the best call,” Cristobal said.

Question from Penny on Twitter: Will that horrible horn sound continue in Autzen?

Answer: According to 247 sports, the loud siren sound you may have heard blaring through Autzen stadium when the Duck defense faced a third down is taken from the horror movie, The Purge.

The idea to have the horn blasted on crucial downs came from the team, specifically defensive lineman Jordon Scott and defensive back Ugo Amadi, to alert the fans to get wild and loud. It also serves as an alert to the Duck defense that it’s time to bear down to get a stop.

I’ve seen the movie (it’s terrifying), so while it might take some getting used to, if the horn riles up the fans and team, I’m all for it. According to Eric Skopil’s report, the horn appears to be staying.

Question from Tyler on Twitter: Who separates themselves from the others at RB before Stanford? Which 3(ish) can we expect to get the majority of touches by month’s end?

Answer: It’s no secret that Oregon flexed its depth by spreading the ball out to all six of its scholarship running backs in its 58-24 victory over Bowling Green. Freshman CJ Verdell led the way with 51 yards, Cyrus Habibi-Likio was the only running back to score, while freshman Travis Dye was the first running back off the bench.

Going forward, will Oregon's stat line show six running back rushers? Not once Pac-12 conference play begins.

Yes, there is a plethora of talent, but expect the old man of the group to be the lead workhorse, “Grandpa” Tony Brooks-James. Behind Brooks-James, each back has a select skill set that could be used differently to game plan for opponents.

If I had to predict who will receive the majority of touches after Brooks-James, I’d say Verdell, Habibi-Likio and sophomore Darrian Felix. Verdell’s strength is his breakaway speed, Habibi-Likio is the largest back on the roster and uses his power to barrel through a defense, and Felix has the experience and explosive lateral quickness.

Question from NBCSportsNW on Twitter (my employer so I had to include!): Which Oregon football away game will be toughest for the Ducks to win?

Answer: Oregon plays at Cal (9/29), Washington State (10/20), Arizona (10/27), Utah (11/10) and Oregon State (11/23). Of those five away games I think Arizona is the most dangerous. The Ducks take on the Wildcats in Tucson on the second of back-to-back road games.

Yes the Wildcats did lose to BYU in their opener, but the duo of new coach Kevin Sumlin and dual-threat quarterback Khalil Tate makes the Wildcats (7-6 last season) an intriguing team to watch this season.

Arizona returns its leading passer and rusher in Tate, who electrified with 1,591 passing yards and 14 touchdowns while rushing for 1,411 yards (9.2 per carry) and 12 touchdowns.

Question (from multiple people on Twitter): What kind of Duck TV coverage does NBC Sports NW plan on?

Answer: Talkin’ Ducks will be our weekly Oregon show. It airs at 7pm on Friday nights and is hosted by Jordan Kent, with me, Aaron Fentress and Joey Harrington as panelists.

If you are looking for supplemental Oregon coverage, I will be on the Brian Noe Radio show (Rip City Radio 620) at 1:45pm every Friday. Also, our website is jam packed with video and written content.

Sabrina Ionescu records 25th triple-double in front of Steph Curry and daughters Riley, Ryan

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NBC Authentic

Sabrina Ionescu records 25th triple-double in front of Steph Curry and daughters Riley, Ryan

It seems that wherever Sabrina Ionescu goes, she has fans.

If you notice when the Oregon women's basketball team travels on away games, there is always a decent crowd supporting the Ducks. You can easily spot that candy apple green #20 jersey in the crowd.

There was a standing ovation as Ionescu checked out of the game midway through the fourth quarter vs. the Cal Golden Bears, having just notched her 25th career triple-double. It was a bit of a homecoming game for the Walnut Creek native.

The applause was not just from Oregon fans but also from one NBA player in attendance: Steph Curry, and his two daughters Riley and Ryan.

Curry and Ionescu are long-time friends. He has raved about her before and the two make it a point to exchange jerseys or see one another when the opportunity presents itself. Ionescu was at Moda Center last season with the Golden State Warriors in town to face the Portland Trail Blazers.

And on an off night for the Warriors, Curry made it a point to attend and take his daughters (potential future WNBA stars who look up to Ionescu) with the Ducks in town to face the Bears.

The G.O.A.T. recorded 17 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in the big win over Cal, but up next is a date with the No. 4 Stanford Cardinal on Monday night where Oregon will once again need the best from Ionescu.

Instant Analysis: Oregon Ducks dominant, achieve milestones in win

Instant Analysis: Oregon Ducks dominant, achieve milestones in win

The Oregon women's basketball program is on a mission and no one is going to get in their way. The Ducks latest victim came by way of a 93-61 win over Cal Friday Night in Berkeley.

The Cal Golden Bears started off in a 1-3-1 defensive zone. Oregon worked the ball around the perimeter eventually finding Sabrina Ionescu and she drilled the three-point shot. The first five field goals were from five different players and Oregon went on a 9-0 run in less than a minute.

Not a bad start and it didn’t end there. 

This set the tone for the rest of the way for the No. 3 Oregon Ducks (25-2, 14-1 Pac-12) taking care of business on the road at Cal (10-16, 2-13 Pac-12) led by another triple-double from the queen, Sabrina Ionescu.

FINAL SCORE: Oregon 93, Cal 61

Here are three quick takeaways from the game:

1. HAVE MERCY ERIN BOLEY

You know the Ducks are going to score. The offensive weapons are just too good. You know you’re really in trouble when Erin Boley finds her rhythm from behind the arc.

Boley hit six three-pointers in the first half alone and finished 8-for-9 on the night.

The 6-foot-2 junior is shooting .406 from 3-PT land this season.

2. BEST QUARTER IN OREGON WBB HISTORY?

At the end of the first quarter, the Ducks were ahead but not by much, 23-19. By the end of the second quarter, the score was 46-28.

Oregon went on an 18-0 run in second quarter led by the hot hand of Erin Boley hitting 6-for-7 from three-point range in the first half.  Cal’s first basket came at the 3:19 mark. Oregon outscored Cal 24-9 in the quarter.

3. ANOTHER TRIPLE-DOUBLE FOR THE QUEEN

Sabrina Ionescu was on triple-double watch at halftime. 

She recorded her 25th career triple-double finishing with 17 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists.

Ionescu is nine rebounds shy of becoming the first player in NCAA history to record 2,000+ points, 1,000+ rebounds and 1,000+ assists in her collegiate career.

With her eight point on the night, Ruthy Hebard moved into second on Oregon's all-time scoring list. Hebard finished with 20 points and 15 rebounds vs. Cal.

UP NEXT: A top-5 matchup between No. 3 Oregon at No. 4 Stanford on Monday night in Palo Alto, Calif.

Ruthy Hebard moves to second on Oregon's All-Time scoring list behind Sabrina Ionescu

Ruthy Hebard moves to second on Oregon's All-Time scoring list behind Sabrina Ionescu

Your eyes are not deceiving you when you are searching Oregon women's basketball record books. Right now, the majority of the records belong to two women. 

Sabrina Ionescu being one, but Ruthy Hebard is surging right behind her.

With her eighth point on Friday night, Hebard has passed Alison Lang (2,252, 1980-84) on Oregon's All-Time scoring list.

Number one on that list? Sabrina Ionescu.

It has been another dominant season for this dynamic duo.

Hebard is coming off a 52-point weekend against UCLA and USC where she averaged a double-double: 26.0 points and 13.5 rebounds.

The 6-foot-4 forward is averaging 17.2 points and 9.6 rebounds in her senior season.

The No. 3 Oregon Ducks (24-2, 13-1) are currently playing on the road against the Cal Golden Bears in Berkeley, Calif.

Oregon Ducks WR Juwan Johnson raising money to fight rare disease

Oregon Ducks WR Juwan Johnson raising money to fight rare disease

When Juwan Johnson walks into the NFL Combine later this month, he'll be playing for more than just himself.

The former Oregon Ducks wide receiver has begun a campaign asking for pledges for each successful bench press rep he completes at the upcoming NFL Combine on February 27.

"As I take a step toward my NFL dream, I’d like to use this opportunity to give back. I have committed my performance at the NFL Combine to support Uplifting Athletes and its mission to inspire the Rare Disease Community with hope through the power of sport."

Uplifting Athletes is a nonprofit organization whose mission statement aspires to "inspire the Rare Disease Community with hope through the power of sport." Their national network of chapters is run by current student-athletes playing football and has made an impact on Jonhson throughout his college career.

I will never forget participating in the Penn State Lift for Life and the way it brought the community together in support of this great cause.  During my time as a student-athlete at Penn State and Oregon I realized the platform athletes have to make a difference.  It’s very important to me to make the most of that opportunity and turn it into something positive. That is why I hope you will help me make a positive impact on the 30 million Americans affected by rare diseases by supporting my campaign!

Johnson states on the donation page his goal is 14 reps of 225 pounds. The historical average for the bench press for receivers is 15.2 reps of 225 pound, according to SB Nation. 

You can donate to his campaign here!

Johnson transferred to the University of Oregon as a graduate transfer for his final season of college eligibility. After a toe injury kept him on the sidelines for weeks to begin the season, he made an impact once he stepped on the field, finishing with 30 receptions, 467 yards and four touchdowns. Three of those touchdowns came in a 56-24 victory over USC in LA Coliseum. 

Why Marcus Mariota and Justin Herbert could be teammates soon

Why Marcus Mariota and Justin Herbert could be teammates soon

Many Duck fans are eagerly anticipating where former Oregon quarterbacks Marcus Mariota and Justin Herbert will be playing next season.

What are the odds they play for the same team? It could be more likely than you'd think.

The Los Angeles Chargers have moved on from their quarterback of 16 seasons, Philip Rivers, and will be looking for a new starter.

Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn spoke with AM 570 LA Sports, per ESPN’s Eric D. Williams, about the quarterback battle and if he'd be comfortable starting Tyrod Taylor, their lone quarterback on roster at the moment.

Tyrod Taylor is a heck of a quarterback. We couldn’t have a better backup right now, and now he has an opportunity to maybe step up into a starting role. I’ve had Tyrod before [in Buffalo], and I know what this young man brings to the table, in the passing game and the running game.

However, I don't think it's likely that the Chargers will be starting Tyrod Taylor next season, at least not without an open competition in training camp. 

Los Angeles owns the sixth-overall pick in the upcoming draft, which many mock drafts predict will be used to select Justin Herbert.

[RELATED: The L.A. Chargers are moving on from Phillip Rivers.....is it Justin Herbert time?]

Meanwhile, Michael Moraitis of Titansized thinks the Chargers and Marcus Mariota should mutually target each other. 

Why not both?

With skilled receiving options such as Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Hunter Henry (free agent), the Chargers are built to compete right now.  Much of their 5-11 record can be attributed to bad luck because they had a positive point differential for most of the season before ending with a differential of -8, good for 16th in the NFL. 

Los Angeles may draft Herbert thinking he's the quarterback of the future, but why not pick up another capable quarterback like Mariota for cheap to come to compete on a prove-it deal. It could be the opposite of when the Seahawks gave Matt Flynn a large contract and drafted Russell Wilson in the third round as a flier. Wilson ended up winning the job in training camp and Pete Carroll didn't give into sunk cost fallacy by moving on from Flynn when Wilson was the better player. 

The Chargers can invest significant draft capital in Herbert, but let Mariota and Taylor compete for the starting role. If Herbert wins the job, then great, the Chargers probably have their quarterback of the future. If he isn't quite ready, then they have two experienced options to fill in until Herbert is ready and he can learn behind Mariota for a season.

Also if Mariota begins the season as the starter before being benched for Herbert, he will be a great teammate backing up Herbert as evidenced by his handling of the Titans benching him in favor of Ryan Tannehill this past season.

[RELATED: Marcus Mariota was a consummate professional until the end with Titans]

As the Tannehill-Mariota situation showed, there is no downside to bringing in a low-cost quarterback to compete for the starting job, and the Chargers should take that approach. The Titans were starting Tannehill in the AFC Championship while only paying him $2 million. 

Mariota spoke after the conclusion of the Titans' season has "no doubts at all" about being a starter next season.

I have no doubts at all, no doubts at all. I'm just hopeful and ready for whatever that next opportunity is.

Mariota has shown flashes of brillilance throughout his professional career. Before a broken leg ended his impressive sophomore campaign, Mariota threw 26 touchdowns and just nine interceptions with a career-best 7.9 yards-per-attempt. His junior season saw massive regression as he threw 13 touchdowns to 15 interceptions while playing through a hamstring injury. That regression would continue into his fourth season under first-year head coach Mike Vrabel. 

Before being benched, Mariota has a 29-32 record in 61 games as a starter with 13,207 passing yards, 76 touchdowns, and 44 interceptions. It's not entirely Mariota's fault, however; few young quarterbacks would succeed with four offensive coordinators and five different play-callers during their rookie contract. When he hits the open market in March, he can seek out a better opportunity to turn his career around, perhaps in Los Angeles? 

Meanwhile, Herbert just finished a four-year career at Oregon as the full-time starter, concluding in a Pac-12 and Rose Bowl Championships. The Eugene native ended his college playing career passing for  10,541 yards, 95 touchdowns, and 23 interceptions while going 29-13 as the starter. 

To get his draft process started, Herbert was named the MVP of both the Senior Bowl practices and the Senior Bowl itself after passing for 83 yards on 9-of-13 passing and a touchdown.

Instant Analysis: No. 14 Oregon falls in the desert to Arizona State

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USATI

Instant Analysis: No. 14 Oregon falls in the desert to Arizona State

A slow start in the desert left the No. 14 Oregon Ducks fighting and clawing back throughout this contest. Arizona State’s largest lead of 12 points slowing dwindled down at the hand of Payton Pritchard in the second half. Pritchard finished with 18 points, 16 in the second half, but unfortunately fouled out with 2:15 to go in the game and the Ducks down five.

Oregon (20-7, 9-5 Pac-12) dropped a game and a spot in the Pac-12 conference standings with a loss in Tempe to the Arizona State Sun Devils (18-8, 9-4). 

The Ducks fall behind No. 18 Colorado (10-4), No. 24 Arizona (9-4) and Arizona State (9-4) in the conference standings.

FINAL SCORE: Oregon 72, Arizona State 77

Here are three quick takeaways from the game:

1. MORE TURNOVERS THAN BASKETS

At the end of the first half, the Ducks had more turnovers (11) than baskets (10). Not an ideal start at all especially on the road in a hostile environment such as Tempe, Arizona. 

2. SECOND HALF PRITCHARD

Payton Pritchard had two points in the first half, 1-for 4 from the field and 0-for-2 from three-point range. He picked up two fouls in the first half and never really found his groove. But like he’s been doing all season, you knew that cold streak wasn’t going to last. 

The senior guard hit back-to-back three-pointers midway through the second half. After his third, he hit the Oregon bench with a little shimmy. Pritchard hit four three-pointers since the 8-minute mark left in the game.

Unfortunately, the hot-handed Pritchard fouled out with 2:15 left in the game and the Ducks down 66-61.

3. FULL COURT PRESSURE

The Oregon full court press can cause many problems for the opposing team, and it did so tonight against Arizona State. During an important 11-0 Ducks run midway through the second half, Oregon forced ASU into a 10-second backcourt violation. It was momentum swinging and the Arizona State lead was gone.

But the comeback would fall just short.

UP NEXT: Oregon remains on the road to face the Arizona Wildcats (19-7, 9-4 Pac-12) on Saturday, Feb. 22 at 6 p.m. (PT) in Tucson, Arizona.

Sabrina Ionescu will attend Kobe Bryant's memorial service before playing No. 4 Stanford

Sabrina Ionescu will attend Kobe Bryant's memorial service before playing No. 4 Stanford

Sabrina Ionescu will prepare for an emotional weekend as the No. 3 Oregon Ducks travel for the annual Bay Area road trip to play California and No. 4 Stanford. 

The Walnut Creek, California native will play in the area she grew up for the final time as an Oregon Duck. Given the Golden Bears' last-place ranking in the conference, the game should not have the fantastic finish it did Ionescu's freshman season.

Then, the game against Stanford will be emotional for additional reasons. Earlier that day before the crucial game to all-but-wrap-up the Pac-12 regular-season title, Ionescu will attend a memorial service for Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles. 

Ionescu had developed a close relationship with Bryant and his daughter Gianna over the past year, including practicing with Gianna's AAU team. The duo attended multiple Ducks games to see Ionescu play. Kobe even told the Ducks after their game against USC that it was his daughter's dream to play for Oregon. 

The senior guard learned of the tragic passing of the Bryants just hours before playing Oregon State in Corvallis.  She dedicated the rest of the season to Kobe after the game.

I mean, everything I do, I do it for him obviously. Really close friend and this season’s for him.

[RELATED: Sabrina Ionescu paying tribute to Kobe Bryant: “This season is for him”]

The Ducks will play the California Golden Bears on Friday at 6:00 p.m. before traveling to Palo Alto to play the No. 4 Stanford Cardinal at 6:00 p.m.

What it means for Oregon in 2020-21 with Satou Sabally declaring for the WNBA Draft

What it means for Oregon in 2020-21 with Satou Sabally declaring for the WNBA Draft

“Duck Family,

After long consideration, I have decided to follow my childhood dream to play professional basketball next season.”

These were the words announced on Thursday from Oregon women's basketball junior Satou Sabally as she will forgo her senior season and declare for the 2020 WNBA Draft.

It was April of last year when Duck fans received the ultimate gift of Sabrina Ionescu announcing that she would forgo the 2019 WNBA Draft and return to Oregon for her senior season. I’m sure a lot of fans were hoping Sabally would do the same. The biggest pull for her to return to Oregon for one more season was the opportunity to play at the collegiate level with her younger sister Nyara, a redshirt freshman this season who has been injured these past two years. 

But, according to the letter, this decision was carefully made with help of her family, who is very important to her.

It has been an amazing three years (with still some left to play) with Sabally in an Oregon uniform. She is a match-up nightmare for anyone on the court. A 6-foot-4 frame, slender with speed combined with strength and power, and good handles… how do you guard that?

Sabally was a crucial piece in what the Oregon women’s program has grown into these past few years. 

The 2020 WNBA Draft is on April 17, 12 days after the national championship. According to the latest ESPN mock draft, Sabally is projected to be selected third overall by the Indiana Fever.

Earlier this month, Sabally was one of three Ducks in the top five of espnW’s midseason rankings of the nation’s top-25 players at No. 4, along with Sabrina Ionescu (No. 1) and Ruthy Hebard (No. 5). 

All this to say, it's not really a surprise that Sabally would declare. This is an opportunity that she has always dreamt of and now it is time to strike while the iron is hot.

So what does this mean for the Ducks next season?

OUTLOOK ON THE 2020-2021 SEASON

The Ducks now lose four of their five starters heading into next season: Sabally, Sabrina Ionescu, Minyon Moore and Ruthy Hebard. That leaves Erin Boley as the consistent starter for the 2020-21 season.

Having only one returning starter is a tough feat, however, the talent coming off the bench speaks for itself: Taylor Chavez, Jaz Shelley, Holly Winterburn, Lucy Cochrane, Lydia Giomi and Morgan Yaeger along with Nyara Sabally (coming off injury) and Sedona Prince (forced to sit out this season by the NCAA).

Not to mention the incoming talent in Oregon’s 2020 recruiting class, the TOP recruiting class in 2020.

Five five-stars will be sporting green and yellow in Eugene next year. 

Angela Dugalic, 6-foot-4 forward from Maine West High School in Des Plaines, Illinois.

- First-Team Illinois All-State selection in 2019

- Led Maine West High School to a 35-0 record and the 2019 Illinois 4A State Championship

Te-Hina Paopao, 5-foot-9 guard from La Jolla Country Day School in Oceanside, California.

- First-Team All-San Diego selection 2018-19

- 2019 Coastal League Player of the Year

Sydney Parrish, 6-foot-2 guard from Hamilton Southeastern High School from Fishers, Indiana.

- 2019 Indiana Gatorade State Player of the Year

- Led Hamilton Southeastern High School to the 2019 Indiana 4A State Championship

Maddie Scherr, 5-foot-11 guard from Ryle High School in Florence, Kentucky.

- 2019 Gatorade State Player of the Year

- Led Ryle High School to its first ever Kentucky State Championship (all classifications) in 2019

Kylee Watson, 6-foot-4 forward from Mainland High School in Linwood, New Jersey

- Two-time USA Today First-Team All-New Jersey (2018, 2019)

- Led Mainland HS to the 2019 New Jersey State Championship

The loss of Sabally is tough. Not only did she bring skill and talent on both ends of the court, but also leadership in the locker room. One could argue that both Taylor Chavez and Jaz Shelley could be in a starting role on another D-1 level team, they are that good. And then you have Sedona Prince, the 6-foot-7 phenom who has to sit out this year per the NCAA, who Duck fans are chomping at the bit to see her play with her size and skill.

Having a player like Sabally on the court and in the locker room only makes your team better, but head coach Kelly Graves will have another big pair of shoes to fill next season with her departure for the WNBA.

Social media, Ducks Nation reacts to Satou Sabally's WNBA decision

Social media, Ducks Nation reacts to Satou Sabally's WNBA decision

On Thursday morning, Oregon women's basketball junior Satou Sabally wrote a letter to her Duck Family.

In her own words, 

“Duck Family,

After long consideration, I have decided to follow my childhood dream to play professional basketball next season.”

The junior forward has decided to forgo her senior season and declare for the 2020 WNBA Draft. 

Here is how the basketball world and Ducks community reacted to the news:

While this decision was made in season, the No. 3 Oregon Ducks have four remaining conference games left: a trip to the Bay Area this weekend followed by a home series hosting the Washington schools. UO's Senior Day ceremonies and appreciation will take place following the game vs. Washington on March 1 at Matthew Knight Arena.