Oregon Ducks

Oregon Spring Football PT. 2: Ducks to improve dropped passes and defense

Oregon Spring Football PT. 2: Ducks to improve dropped passes and defense

The day after I wrote how I could feel spring in the air, the snow began to fall in Portland. Regardless of the weather, Oregon spring football practices are about to begin! If you haven’t yet read the latest Duck injury updates, coaching changes and true freshmen who enrolled early, better catch up! Caution, the list of early enrollees from Oregon's historic 2019 recruiting class may make you count down the days until opening kickoff. 

The first of Oregon’s 15 spring practices will begin this Saturday. Two main focuses of spring will be; Cutting down dropped passes and shifting into new defensive coordinator Andy Avalos’ defense. Here is an update on how Oregon plans to do that.

How Cristobal plans on fixing UO’s dropped passes problem

Oregon’s 2018 pass catchers had an inconsistent season as a group, aside from Dillon Mitchell. Letting catchable balls hit the turf was one of the main problems for Oregon’s offense, something new wide receivers coach Jovon Bouknight will be tasked with fixing.

How can the Ducks get the most out of quarterback Justin Herbert in his final season at UO?

Oregon coach Cristobal called it “no secret” that drops must improve. 

Cristobal intends to add up the number of drops and the yards lost in 2018 to provide a “teaching moment.” Then, he’ll calculate the significance of those drops and yards in terms of third downs and moving the chains.

Sounds like a fun meeting, huh? 

[READ: It’s Juwan Johnson’s opportunity to grasp or waste]

“It’s pretty significant," Cristobal said. "It’s no secret, it’s an issue. But it’s not an issue from a determination or work ethic standpoint. We’ve got to technically teach our guys how to be efficient and precise in catching the football, putting it away and doing something with it.”

Cristobal states the problem does not stem from a lack of work ethic but highlighted areas where the position group needs to improve most; discipline in aligning perfectly before each play and nailing the details of each route.

Passing game efficiency is the goal and according to Cristobal, Bouknight has already "made a strong statement" since joining the staff two weeks ago. 

"You don’t point a finger at anybody whether it be the tight end, receiver or quarterback. You coach it better. You teach it better. You get in there and you work harder."


How the defense will change under new defensive coordinator Andy Avalos

Over a year later, the Ducks took something positive from the Las Vegas Bowl loss… Boise State’s defensive coordinator, Andy Avalos.

“When coach Cristobal reached out to me about this opportunity, I’m not going to lie to you, I was really, really excited,” Oregon’s new defensive coordinator said. 

Avalos said Oregon' tradition, brand and fresh excitement that Cristobal is bringing to the program is why he chose to leave his alma mater, where he coached for seven seasons, three seasons as defensive coordinator.

Avalos’ scheme, which Cristobal described as complex for the opponent and simple for Oregon, was a main reason Oregon hired the former Bronco star linebacker.

Avalos runs the same 3-4 base that former Oregon defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt did in 2018, but it differs with a variety of switches based on personnel packages.

The multiplicity of Avalos’ scheme appealed to Cristobal. The word “multiple” was probably used 20 times in his introductory press conference.

Avalos switches between three and four-man and “Bear” fronts and one and two-down linemen packages. He utilizes and will coach the STUD position; hybrid edge players with a pass rushing priority but also can drop into coverage and stop the run.

This could be a huge opportunity for outside linebackers La’Mar Winston Jr., Adrian Jackson and incoming freshman Kayvon Thibodeaux.

The goal will be to force identification issues, movement issues and structural issues to the opposing offense. No doubt Avalos’ past defenses have been versatile and disruptive. In the Las Vegas Bowl, Herbert was sacked four times, Oregon’s offense totaled 280 total yards and Boise State scored on a pick-six.

[READ: Leavitt didn’t fit Cristobal’s vision; A decade in the making]

Last season, Avalos coached a unit that ranked 10th nationally in sacks (3.0 per game) and 20th nationally in turnovers forced (24) with 17 fumble recoveries, the most in the country. He will be taking over a UO unit that finished 42nd in the nation in yards allowed per play. The Duck defense returns eight starters led by star linebacker Troy Dye and adds some of the nation’s top talent, Thibodeaux and linebacker Mase Funa, who could make an impact right away. 

Jay Butterfield, Nation's No. 3 Pro Style QB, to enroll early at Oregon

Jay Butterfield, Nation's No. 3 Pro Style QB, to enroll early at Oregon

One of the biggest, if not the biggest, question looking ahead to next season of Oregon football, is who will replace the departing Justin Herbert at quarterback?

If Herbert’s heir isn’t already on campus in Tyler Shough, he will be soon when 2020 QB commit Jay Butterfield steps foot in Eugene on January 4th. 

The 6-foot-6, 202 pound signal caller out of Brentwood, CA is rated as the third best pro style passer in this upcoming high school class according to 247Sports. Rivals’ Recruiting Director Mike farrell has claimed he could be a future first day NFL Draft selection. 

Butterfield is a tall quarterback with a great frame to fill out who has a strong arm but can also move around a bit. He’s raw, but his talents are evident and he could be a first-rounder down the line if he develops.

Following the official departure of offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo, the Ducks commit tweeted out his commitment to UO still stood. Arroyo was among his main recruiters to come to Eugene, but clearly wasn’t the only determining factor. 

Butterfield will join Bradley Yaffe and Cale Millen (coming off shoulder injury) at the quarterback position on the Ducks' roster next season.

When Butterfield starts practicing with the team, expect him to push Shough for the starting job this fall.

His high school highlights are below.

FAU is a dream job... Willie Taggart, probably

FAU is a dream job... Willie Taggart, probably

Florida Atlantic did something. 

On Wednesday, it was announced that Willie Taggart will be the next head coach to replace the departed Lane Kiffin. 

Kiffin will be the next head coach at Ole Miss.

[RELATED]: Oregon State adds home-and-home series with Ole Miss, New Mexico

Taggart spent one season as Oregon’s head football coach before departing for his “dream job” at Florida State. Taggart coached the Ducks to a 7-5 record, but quickly left Eugene before the Las Vegas Bowl for Tallahassee. Taggart lead the team to a 5-7 record in his first season (2018-19). Nine games into his second season, Florida State fired Taggart following a 27-10 loss to the Miami Hurricanes. FSU paid Taggart $18 million to leave.

Now, he's on to yet another position, his fourth team in four years. The Florida Atlantic Owls did something and took a chance on the head coach. They will have to live with that decision, but maybe not for more than a year or two. 

At Oregon, it's a very good time for making an offensive change

At Oregon, it's a very good time for making an offensive change

Marcus Arroyo is leaving the University of Oregon football program at just the right time.

I can’t think of a better time for this to happen to the Ducks. I have no idea how much they will miss him on the recruiting side of the game – time will tell about that.

But I’m pretty confident they can find an offensive coordinator who can move the ball and score points as well as Arroyo did.

And remember, Arroyo has had a quarterback, Justin Herbert, who is expected to be a first-round pick in the NFL draft.

I’ve never been sure that the Ducks got as much out of Herbert as they should have gotten. They always seemed to be torn between wanting to be a power-running team and being a pass-first team. Either would have been OK, but they often didn’t hit on the right balance. And to be fair to them, it was incumbent upon them to play a style most suitable to Herbert's talents, even if it was counter to their long-term philosophy.

And that could have been attributed to the head coach, too. All I know is that, quite often, the offense did not live up to expectations, considering the line and the quarterback behind it.

Now, though, Mario Cristobal has his chance to shape the offense just the way he wants to, with the hiring of a new offensive coordinator.

I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see Oregon go to a more option-oriented attack with a quarterback who is more of a running threat than pure passer. It would seem to fit with Cristobal's perceived vision of a physical offensive line being able to control games with ball control to benefit a stingy defense.

And with Herbert gone, the way is cleared now to recruit toward that style of play -- or any other style he wishes. I think, too, he will have the resources to hire a big name and/or a proven commodity.

That’s why the time is right for a change. A change in coaches, in philosophy and perhaps even personnel.

Hey NCAA, stop ruining people’s lives please

Hey NCAA, stop ruining people’s lives please

Dear NCAA,

We get it. It’s your way or the highway and no one is going to change your mind. Your constant power-driven moves are getting old. Please stop denying not just athletes but people the freedom to advance their lives. Please reconsider your decision-making process for the better of the athlete and not yourself.




Here’s what is going on. Redshirt freshman Sedona Prince announced that she would transfer from the University of Texas to join the Oregon women’s basketball team on July 5, 2019. She had sat out her freshman season with the Longhorns after suffering a broken right leg. Her injury occurred while playing for the USA U18 team at the FIBA Americas Championship in Mexico City in August 2018. 

Prince applied for an NCAA waiver for immediate eligibility and suit up for this Ducks this 2019-2020 season. The NCAA denied her claim on Wednesday. Prince appealed the decision and was denied again.

She will sit on the bench for another year.

The first time Duck fans will see the 6-foot-7, No. 8 rated recruit, and 2018 McDonald’s All-American take the court at Matthew Knight Arena will be the 2020-2021 season.

She never took the court in Texas. She sat on the bench and waited. If the NCAA was going to approve any case in particular, this would be a great situation to do so. Alas, they did not. The NCAA once again showed its true colors.

Oregon Coach Kelly Graves weighed in:

I just feel bad for her and she’s already sat out a year. She got hurt playing for USA basketball for crying out loud, giving up herself for playing something bigger. They deny it. I think she had a pretty good case, I won’t go into the particulars of that. If she doesn’t get it, than who does? Just the arbitrary nature of which they makes decisions is what I think frustrates most people. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason…. Either do it for everybody or you don’t do it for anybody.

Graves makes a valid point. There is no standard for these decisions. It seems like each case is a different way of thinking.

Teammates also took to Twitter to support their Prince and hopefully bring more light to the situation and take a stand to the NCAA.


Let’s put the mess that is the upper hand power of the NCAA to rest for a moment. 

The hopes and dreams of seeing Prince take the floor this season and with this roster would have been nothing short of stellar. Imagine a scenario with both Prince and senior Ruthy Hebard on the floor together or Prince and Sabrina Ionescu run the pick and roll will remain just hopes and dreams. 

Looking to the future, Prince brings a lot to the table: that 6-foot-7 frame complimented by a killer jump shot. Prince was named the 2018 Texas Girls Association Basketball Athlete of the Year after averaging 22.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 2.8 steals and 4.7 blocks per game. Yes that was two years ago, however, Prince is a great match in Graves' system of constant ball movement and screens.

It is still a year away, but we can't wait to see Prince finally take the court.

There’s only one explanation for Oregon's Pac-12 conference awards… conspiracy theory!

There’s only one explanation for Oregon's Pac-12 conference awards… conspiracy theory!

This article from The Mercury News written by Jon Wilner is bizarre and accurate and is a real head-turner. But it definitely brings up several good points. 

On Tuesday, the Pac-12 Conference released its list of all-conference honors. To some surprise, the 2019 Pac-12 champion Oregon Ducks were only on the entirety of the list four times. Four out of 46 players were Ducks. The fifth player to make all-conference was Brady Breeze for first team specialist.

The 2019 Pac-12 champions with a defense that ranked No. 16 nationally in yards per play, No. 9 in points allowed per game and No. 1 nationally in red zone touchdowns allowed, had just ONE player’s name recognized: Troy Dye, and he was second team all-conference. SECOND TEAM.

Plus, how does the coach who was four points shy of an undefeated season and handedly took down Utah Coach Kyle Wittingham (who won the award this season) by 22 points in the championship game did not win Pac-12 Coach of the Year?

Wilner says it may have something to do with slowing down all that is the Oregon freight train in terms of recruiting.

“Maybe not voting for more Ducks and not voting for Cristobal was an attempt to undermine his efforts on the recruiting trail.”

Dwight Jaynes chimes in:

It’s ridiculous. Wilner is correct. Either Cristobal is a fantastic coach and Coach of the Year or the players didn’t get the recognition they deserved. If it’s because the people don’t like Cristobal, it’s a shame for the kids.

Which brings up a valid point: how does the rest of the Pac-12 view Mario Cristobal and Oregon football? Is it his rough nature? His friendship with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson? His coaching philosophies of physical play? Based on the votes and results, it has to be something…

The voting process happens within 48 hours after the championship game. No coach is allowed to vote for their own players.

The numbers don’t lie and The Mercury News did its research:

Presenting the first piece of evidence in our conspiracy theory: year, champion and total first/second-team selections (listed in order of selections):

2016 Washington: 12 (first/second-team honorees)
2012 Stanford: 10
2013 Stanford: 10
2014 Oregon: 9
2017 USC: 9
2015 Stanford: 8
2018 Washington: 8
2011 Oregon: 6
2019 Oregon: 4

Oh, but there’s more …

Number of first-team selections:

2016 Washington: 9
2015 Stanford: 6
2017 USC: 6
2018 Washington: 6
2012 Stanford: 5
2013 Stanford: 5
2014 Oregon: 5
2011 Oregon: 4
2019 Oregon: 1

Is there a conspiracy? Who knows. But the evidence from Wilner does support the claim. Not only has this season's Oregon team had a historically low amount of first team players, but whenever Oregon has won the conference they've had less first-team selections than when other teams have won the Pac-12.  

Whatever. Haters gonna hate. 

Social media reacts: Mixed feeling on Marcus Arroyo's departure

Social media reacts: Mixed feeling on Marcus Arroyo's departure

It has been confirmed: Oregon offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo is leaving Eugene and the Oregon football program to become the next head coach of the UNLV Rebels.

[RELATED]: Happy fans or not, Marcus Arroyo make large impact for Ducks

There are quite some mixed feelings about this move. 

On one hand, this is a big move for Arroyo who has aspired to become a head coach throughout his football career. 

On the other hand, many have questioned Arroyo’s play calling abilities and coaching tactics that may have stunted quarterback Justin Herbert’s potential.

Below are the comments on our latest post on Instagram about the Arroyo move:

Regardless, big changes coming to the Oregon football staff as the search begins for its next offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

Happy fans or not, losing Marcus Arroyo makes large impact for Ducks

Happy fans or not, losing Marcus Arroyo makes large impact for Ducks

After three seasons at Oregon, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo has agreed to become the new head coach at UNLV. 

Arroyo’s salary at Oregon was $825,000, the third highest Pac-12 Conference assistant salary. Arroyo's contract does have a buyout that would require the coach to pay 20% of his guaranteed salary remaining but that is waived because Arroyo took a head coaching position at the FBS level, which UNLV is a part of.

Why UNLV? Why now?

Arroyo’s head coaching aspirations are realized at UNLV in the Mountain West Conference. The 39-year-old has ties to the Mountain West, playing quarterback at San Jose State (1998-2002), coaching quarterbacks at San Jose State (2006-2008) and coaching quarterbacks/offensive coordinator at Wyoming (2009-10).

He’s raking over a Rebels program with some shiny new facilities and recruiting tools (something Arroyo is used to at Oregon). UNLV’s priority was to hire a head coach before early signing period for the 2020 class occurs from December 18-20. The Rebels have 10 players committed for what 247Sports ranks as the Mountain West’s No. 3 class.

The Rebels recently opened a $34.8 million, 73,000-square-foot Fertitta Football Complex, a likely recruiting highlight for his new staff.

Arroyo takes over a program with three winning seasons in 27 years. Tony Sanchez went 20-40 over five seasons before being officially fired Nov. 25.

Fan Un-favorite

Oregon fans developed a strong dislike towards Arroyo this season.

“Why did the Ducks throw downfield more against Auburn?”

“Where is the play-calling creativity?”

“Why are Arroyo’s play calls so predictable? One-dimensional?

“How come there aren’t many explosive plays?”

Some fans go as far to say that Arroyo didn’t develop senior quarterback Justin Herbert to his full potential.

In reality, Oregon’s offense has improved over Arroyo’s tenure and much of the “lackluster-ness” is due to UO coach Mario Cristobal’s strength and power offense designed to dominate the trenches and pound the ground.

Coming off possibly his best play calling performance in Oregon’s 37-15 win over Utah, Arroyo’s offense averaged 35.2 points per game this season. That ranked second in the Pac-12 Conference behind Washington State’s air raid. Arroyo coached Herbert to 3,333 yards passing with 32 touchdowns and only five interceptions. Running back CJ Verdell reached 1,000 yards rushing for his second-straight season. 2019 marked the second consecutive year and fourth time in program history that Oregon has had a 3,000-yard passer and 1,000-yard rusher in the same season. The Ducks also lead the nation with number of players with a touchdown (19) and number of players with a receiving touchdown (12).

The proof is in the pudding... Oregon is 11-2, won the Pac-12 title and has a chance to win its first Rose Bowl since 2014.

What impact does this have?

With Justin Herbert NFL bound in April, Oregon’s offense will be likely run by quarterback Tyler Shough in 2020. Herbert’s heir, Shough, was recruited by Arroyo.

As evident with Herbert, who sustained three different head coaches throughout his Oregon career, coaching turnover can stunt growth and slow progress.
It’s expected that Cristobal will stick to his offensive philosophy but coaching turnover will undoubtably have an affect on Shough, who has spent two seasons with Arroyo. A big question mark is how much of an affect? Will Shough have to learn a new offense over the summer with a matchup against Ohio State looming in non-conference play?

[READ: Dana Shough's fight and win over breast cancer the "largest championship game" she's ever been in]
As with any coaching change, the 2020 recruiting class may be effected as recruiting sharks will emerge in attempt to steer prospects to other Pac-12 coaches. Oregon’s class currently ranks No. 1 in the Pac-12 and No. 11 in the nation. With Cristobal’s recruiting prowess, I wouldn’t expect UO to take too big of a hit.

Other notable current Ducks who were recruited by Arroyo: wide receivers Mycah Pittman, Josh Delgado and JR Waters.

Who could be replacement?

Oregon has a few candidates in house that could be promoted within, like running backs coach Jim Mastro. However, if I were a betting woman, I’d say the Ducks will open up a nation wide search.

Oregon Ducks OC Marcus Arroyo named head coach at UNLV

Oregon Ducks OC Marcus Arroyo named head coach at UNLV

It is official... Oregon offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo has agreed to become the new head coach at UNLV. 

NBCS Bay Area's Matt Maiocco broke the news: 

According to UNLV Athletics, "Marcus has demonstrated a commitment to integrity and excellence throughout his career, and we look forward to a bright future for our football program under his leadership," UNLV President Marta Meana said. "We're excited to welcome Marcus and his family to Las Vegas and UNLV."

The contract terms are not immediately known. Arroyo’s salary while coaching in Eugene was $825,000. Oregon is not owed a buyout. 

At this time, it’s unclear if the Ducks will hire outside the program to replace Arroyo or promote from within. Running backs coach Jim Mastro was considered for Cal Poly’s head coaching position before Cal offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin accepted the position. Perhaps, he lost interest after sensing a promotion may be near in Eugene. 

As for the Rebels, getting a new head coach in place was a priority given the early signing period for the 2020 recruiting class occurs over December 18th through the 20th. UNLV fired Tony Sanchez after he went 20-40 in five seasons as Rebels head coach. The university also recently opened up a $35 million football facility to help with recruiting and results on the field. 

Arroyo should help greatly in that regard. He’s always been known as an ace recruiter helping the Ducks land the best two classes in school history in his two seasons as offensive coordinator under Mario Cristobal. The new Rebels head coach recently described the Ducks’ recruiting approach as recruiting like “monsters”, and he’ll bring that mentality to Las Vegas.

Arroyo’s offense averaged 35.2 points per game, second only in the conference to the Washington State Cougars. It also averaged 450 yards of total offense per game, good for third in the conference behind WSU and USC. 

Arroyo served as the quarterbacks coach as well. He helped future first-round-pick Herbert have his most successful season of his collegetic career finishing with 3,333 yards passing with 32 touchdowns and only five interceptions.

Arroyo became a controversial figure among Ducks fans this season with some accusing his playcalling lacking creativity, especially following the Arizona State and Oregon State games. However, his offense ranked near the top in many categories in the Pac-12 and his offense scored 34 or more points eight times this season. Including, putting up 37 points against then-No. 5 Utah in the Pac-12 championship game. 

What do you think Ducks fans? Are you excited for a new offensive mind to take over play calling? Or are you worried? 

Justin Herbert honored for success on the field and in the classroom

Justin Herbert honored for success on the field and in the classroom

The William V. Campbell Award is given annually to the college football player that is not only one of the best in the sport but is one of the best in the classroom as well.

This season's recipient: Oregon's Justin Herbert.

Herbert is a special talent. Duck fans know this. But, for as talented as he is on the gridiron, he may be more talented in his studies.

To be considered for the William V. Campbell Award, one must possess at least a 3.2 GPA. Herbert, well, he has 4.01 GPA. The General Science major studies for finals just as hard as he studies game film. 

In fact, on the flight to New York for the ceremony, Herbert spent time working on his final exams. 

Herbert and members of the team have been in New York for the past few days, but on Tuesday night Herbert was officially handed the trophy. Here are some of the sights and sounds from the Big Apple:

Undoubtedly, there will be more awards to come for this tremendous student-athlete.