Oregon Ducks

Oregon TE Jacob Breeland might fulfill the promise Colt Lyerla failed to realize

Oregon TE Jacob Breeland might fulfill the promise Colt Lyerla failed to realize

EUGENE - Oregon redshirt sophomore Jacob Breeland isn't allowing an injured right hand to get in the way of playing like the team's best tight end. 

"It kind of sucks but I'm just going to go out there and do as much as I can and play," he said. 

The results have been impressive. 

"He hasn't dropped a ball," UO coach Willie Taggart said, stating that Breeland's protected hand makes it appear like he might be getting ready to participate in the upcoming bout between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor. "So we might let him use that all year long out there."

Breeland's right hand has been wrapped in a cast as a precautionary measure. But the Ducks can't afford for Breeland to take time off. They need him. In a big way. Thin at wide receiver with very little tight end depth, Breeland could end up being one of the team's more vital pieces on offense this season. 

When it's all said and done, Breeland could live up to the promise once showed by former UO tight ends, Colt Lyerla and Pharaoh Brown. Lyerla could have become the greatest tight end in program history but off-the-field troubles derailed his career. Brown came close to equaling Lyerla in ability but overcame maturity issues just in time to suffer a severe leg injury in 2014 that altered his career's trajectory. 

Breeland could accomplish what both Lyerla and Brown did not. He is that guy on this roster and could become the first Oregon tight end to reach elite status since David Paulson in 2011. 

Breeland, listed at 6-foot-5, 241-pounds, matches Lyerla and Brown in size at the same age, and is only getting bigger. He isn't the athletic freak both Lyerla and Brown were but is a better overall athlete than Evan Baylis and Johnny Mundt, two quality senior tight ends who last season split time with Brown. 

Breeland has exceptional body control and natural running instincts after the catch. He also doesn't mind sticking his nose into the mix and blocking, something he will be asked to a lot of in a more physical rushing attack than Oregon has employed in previous years. 

Breeland finished the season with six receptions for 123 yards as the fourth tight end behind three seniors he said he watched and learned from. 

"They taught me a lot," Breeland said. "A lot about reading defenses...they just pushed me to be better, basically,"

Good thing, because Breeland stands as the lone tight end with any practical experience. Still, Taggart said he doesn't have much concern about the position. 

"I'm really impressed with all of our tight ends from spring to now," he said. 

The backup is redshirt freshman Cam McCormick, a three-star recruit a year ago out of Bend. Then there are sophomores Ryan Bay and Matt Mariota. 

"Are they where we need them to be? No," Taggart said. "But they are a lot better than what they were when we first started off. And to be honest with you, I feel good about putting any of those guys into the game and running our offense."

Taggart's offense will rely heavily on the tight end position, especially in the running game.

"That's one of the main things we're going to do," Breeland said. "(Taggart) said we're going to run the ball a lot so be ready to block."

Breeland said he has spent a lot of time working on reading defensive fronts, knowing who to block on certain plays and mastering his footwork and ability to gain adequate pad level on defenders. 

South Florida last season, under Taggart, saw its leading tight end - Mitch Wilcox - make just 12 receptions. Oregon's senior tight end trio last year combined for 65 receptions.  

While Breeland said he expects the overall role of the tight end to be different in this offense compared to the previous attack, he still expects to catch plenty of passes. 

"We're having some special plays for us to come open for touchdowns," Breeland said. 

Whatever the role he is asked to play, Breeland says he is ready to perform. 

"I'm going to go out there and play as hard as I can," Breeland said. "And if they are going to use me a lot then I'll be there to do my best and catch the ball if I need to, block if I need to and do it all."

He certainly is going to need to if the Ducks' offense is going to succeed. 

Chargers appear to have fallen in love, but is it with Justin Herbert?

Chargers appear to have fallen in love, but is it with Justin Herbert?

All offseason leading up the 2020 NFL Draft the Los Angeles Chargers have been mocked to take Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert with the sixth overall pick, assuming that the Miami Dolphins take Tua Tagovailoa fifth overall.

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

However, that may be changing given recent reports. 

In the latest scouting notebook from Bleacher Report's Matt Miller, he reports that the Chargers have their eyes on another senior quarterback in the upcoming NFL Draft: Utah State's Jordan Love. 

For months we've heard the Chargers will draft whichever quarterback the Dolphins don't, which was believed to be between Tua and Herbert. That could still be the case, but in a conversation earlier this week, one very well-connected scout mentioned that Jordan Love is a name to watch here. That's something I reported during Senior Bowl week—that the Chargers had a crush on the Utah State quarterback—and it could be coming full circle.

That the Chargers started crushing on Love at the Senior Bowl is puzzling given that the former Ducks signal-caller was named both the MVP of the week of Senior Bowl practices and the Senior Bowl itself.

[RELATED]: Who won the Senior Bowl? Justin Herbert...

Also, Tua and Herbert have been the consensus second tier of quarterbacks all offseason with some teams even having Herbert over Tua due to less medical concerns.

That the Chargers could see Herbert as the fourth-best quarterback in the draft doesn't make too much sense, considering his stellar draft process from impressing at the Senior Bowl, NFL Combine and his pro day. Given the Chargers' roster they can compete for a Super Bowl with a good quarterback this upcoming season and Hebert will give them the best chance to do so if they take him at six.  This seems like when the Bears overthought the Mitchell Trubisky pick rather than taking Deshaun Watson who had way more college success. 

But, if the Chargers are considering targeting Love as their quarterback of the future it could indicate they want to take a defensive player like Clemson's Isaiah Simmons at sixth overall and then trade up for Love into the back of the first round or early second round. But what if they just think Love is their guy and take him at sixth overall? That possibility could have been what Todd McShay was banking on when he bet $5,000 with Mel Kiper Jr. that Love would be taken before Herbert in the upcoming draft. 

The 6-foot-4, 225 pound Love finished last season with 3,402 yards passing and 20 touchdowns with 17 interceptions, while the 6-foot-6, 237 pound Herbert passed for 3,417 yards for 32 touchdowns and only six interceptions. The Oregon quarterback also led the Ducks to a 12-2 record, a Pac-12 Championship, and a Rose Bowl Championship in his senior season.

We will find out where Justin Herbert will begin his professional career on April 23, when the NFL Draft may be going virtual

Tennessee Titans offer hollow farewell to Marcus Mariota in social media post

Tennessee Titans offer hollow farewell to Marcus Mariota in social media post

While it may not have ended like both sides hoped when the franchise spent the second overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft on the Heisman winner, there also appears to be little bad blood.

After former Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota officially signing with the Las Vegas Raiders to be the NFL's highest-paid backup quarterback, the Tennessee Titans posted to Instagram to thank the best player in Oregon football history.

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Mahalo Marcus. 🤙🏽

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The farewell gesture seems like a nice gesture at first glance. But, when you look at their other social media posts to other players, including Delanie Walker and Jurrell Casey, Marcus Mariota seems like an after thought. 

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A Titan Great ⚔️

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Casey received not one but two posts, one which was a full page quote from Titans GM Jon Robinson. 

Even Delanie Walker got a nice quote in his post. 

Marcus Mariota got the equivalent to "it is your birthday" written on a cake. 

Sure, Mariota's time didn't pan out how both parties expected. He showed flashes throughout his professional career, including an impressive sophomore campaign when he threw 26 touchdowns and just nine interceptions with a career-best 7.9 yards-per-attempt until a broken leg ended his season. 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. 

Mariota had a 29-32 record in 61 games as a starter with 13,207 passing yards, 76 touchdowns, and 44 interceptions.

Then he was benched and was considered the scapegoat for the Titans problems. Still, after being benched, Mariota was a consummate professional until the end. Head coach Mike Vrabel praised Mariota's professionalism throughout the season. Basically, Vrabel was just happy Mariota didn't make his life difficult. 

Mariota signed with the Las Vegas Raiders where he hopes to find stability while getting a chance to compete for the starting position in Las Vegas, but he knows that it is David Carr's team going in.

[RELATED]: Marcus Mariota reveals why he signed with the Las Vegas Raiders

Mariota deserved more. He deserved better. And hopefully he'll get that with the Raiders.  

Sabrina Ionescu explains the worst part of the season getting cancelled

Sabrina Ionescu explains the worst part of the season getting cancelled

Early on Friday morning, Sabrina Ionescu once again did something no one in an Oregon uniform has ever done before.

Ionescu became the first player from Oregon to win the Naismith Trophy for the National Player of the Year.

The 2020 Naismith Trophy winner jumped on a video chat with CBS Sports and the Naismith presenters to accept the award.

This was truly a historic year for Ionescu: First player to reach 2,000+ points, 1,000+ assists and 1,000+ rebounds; NCAA leader in career triple-doubles (26); spoke at her dear friend Kobe Bryant’s memorial; completely changed the game of basketball forever…

When looking back on such a terrific season in Eugene, Ionescu listed these highlights specifically that stood out to her. Typical Ionescu, they are all team highlights, not individual.

- Beating Team USA. Who could have forgotten that? The Ducks defeated the best professional players in the country, 93-86 on their home court of Matthew Knight Arena back in early November. It was only an exhibition game, but it was a win that set the tone for the rest of the season.

- Beating Stanford. Not one, not two, but three times this season, the Ducks handled the Cardinal. Once at home, once on the road, and once in the Pac-12 Tournament Finals.

- Civil War champs. This was a first for the Kelly Graves - Sabrina Ionescu era who had never won in Corvallis. Oregon beat in-state rival Oregon State twice in Pac-12 conference play.

- Pac-12 Tournament Champs. Oregon took care of business during Pac-12 play and took care of business at the Pac-12 Tournament. 

This team was different. It may have started with Ionescu, but the talent ran deep and will continue to do so for years to come. 

When asked what Ionescu loved most about this special season and this special team, she had nothing but love for her teammates.

We were so close. Every single player loved every single player. We played for each other and I think going through those ups and downs of the year, we grew together. And so, being able to play alongside them was a blessing and it’s definitely the worst part not being able to play anymore is just not being able to play with them. — Sabrina Ionescu

Taylor Chavez, Oregon Ducks wonder what could have been at the Final Four

Taylor Chavez, Oregon Ducks wonder what could have been at the Final Four

April 3, 2020.

A date marked on the calendar for Oregon women's basketball and their fans for nearly a year.

When Sabrina Ionescu returned to Eugene for her senior season in an Oregon uniform it was under the pretense of 'Unfinished Business.' To avenge the Ducks' loss to eventual National Champion Baylor in the 2019 Final Four, and win a National Championship.

But they needed to take care of business to get back to that stage, and they did.

Pac-12 Regular-Season Champions. Pac-12 Tournament Champions. Nation's No. 2 overall ranking. Clinched no NCAA Tournament games out of Oregon until the Final Four. Getting a chance to avenge their last season's end was all but guaranteed for the program.

That was until the spread of COVID-19 shut down the world of sports causing the NCAA to cancel all winter and spring championships, including the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament, producing arguably the greatest what-if in Oregon athletic history. 

Now, on the day they should be avenging last season and competing to make the program's first-ever National Championship game, the Ducks are sitting at home in quarantine. Wondering what could have been, including sophomore Taylor Chavez.

The season's cancellation has to sting extra for Chavez who had to sit out last season's tournament with a foot injury.

The Ducks were confident heading into the tournament as well since they believed this was their season to win the National Championship, including senior Minyon Moore who was not shy saying how she felt.

When the NCAA's verdict came through and the team realized their dream season was finished, Chavez tweeted that the top four ranked teams in the country organize their own Final Four.

Even people not on the team are disappointed in the way this past season abruptly ended, including Oregon linebacker Troy Dye and defensive end Kayon Thibodeaux.

Oh, what could have been...

Mario Cristobal names Tyler Shough QB1 at the end of spring football

Mario Cristobal names Tyler Shough QB1 at the end of spring football

One of, if not the, biggest question heading into the 2020-2021 Oregon football season is who will be Oregon’s next starting quarterback? 

The hometown hero Justin Herbert is off to the NFL and has left behind big shoes to fill. 

Mario Cristobal enters his third season as head coach, the Ducks are coming off a Pac-12 Championship and victory in the 106th Rose Bowl. They landed the No. 1 linebacker in the country, Justin Flowe, along with the No. 13 ranked recruiting 2020 class. 

The hype is no joke. But losing your quarterback and offensive coordinator in the same year is not always an easy transition. 

Cristobal then hired Joe Moorhead away from Mississippi State to become Oregon’s next offensive coordinator. That's one hole filled. Next up, the heir to the Herbert throne.

It probably doesn’t come as a complete shock to hear redshirt sophomore Tyler Shough’s name continue to pop up.

At the start of spring practice in early March, Tyler Shough was the guy to beat. At the end of spring practice, which was cut early due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tyler Shough remained the guy to beat.

I can’t emphasize enough how fired up we are about Tyler [Shough]. He entered spring football as the starter. He leaves the spring as the starter. — Mario Cristobal 

Shough was Herbert’s true backup for the past two seasons. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound quarterback from Chandler, Arizona saw action in five games (53 snap total) last season and completed 12-of-15 passes for 144 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. The consensus four-star prospect has waited his turn and earned the QB1 spot. Not to forget he is the only quarterback on Oregon's roster with actual collegiate experience in green and yellow.

However, Shough taking over the reins may not be certain as Cristobal has also stated that competition only makes players better. 

On Wednesday, Oregon signed Boston College grad transfer quarterback Anthony Brown.

[RELATED]: Oregon Ducks embrace culture of competition with transfer of QB Anthony Brown

The addition of the three-year starter at BC sowed some doubt into the presumptive status of Shough as QB1.

Not to mention, there's incoming quarterbacks Jay Butterfield, a four-star pro-style quarterback from Brentwood, California, and dual-threat quarterback Robby Ashford, another four-star prospect from Hoover, Alabama. 

It's going to be a crowded and very talented QB room in the fall.

Once football starts up again, this will be a very interesting position group to follow. 

But for now, it is Shough’s position to lose.

Eugene, Oregon is becoming a sports Mecca with hosting the 2021 World Championships

Eugene, Oregon is becoming a sports Mecca with hosting the 2021 World Championships

Tracktown USA will never be the same. It only keeps growing not just on a national scale, but global.

It is a big deal that the United States, and more specifically Eugene, Oregon, landed the 2021 World Track and Field Championships at historic Hayward Field.

Former Oregon Track and Field star and Olympian Ashton Eaton joins the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent.

Here is an idea of the scale of this event:

The World Championships was a plan that was in the minds of folks who were building up the Oregon track program, Hayward Field and the ‘Tracktown’ idea years ago. And so, in order to get to that point, the 2008 Olympic Trials had to be had, 2012, 2016 and now 2021. So these things were all not random. They were leading up to this moment of bringing the entire world of track and field to Hayward Field, to Eugene, Oregon. -- Ashton Eaton

It was not a coincidence. It was not random. It was pre-planned and thought out to have Eugene be the home to such a prestigious world showcase.

It’s one of the biggest sporting events in Oregon history making it one of the biggest deals, I think in sport and Oregon history. Oregon is solidifying itself as definitely a track and field Mecca in the United States, but I think it’s starting to become almost a sport Mecca too where you see investment in these facilities, investment in these global events. — Ashton Eaton

The event will start on Friday, August 6, 2021 and will end on Sunday, August 15, 2021.

If you drive by Hayward Field today as it stands today, you may notice that it looks drastically different. The facility is getting a face lift, which comes at an abomination to some but a positive change to others. Some may even ague that if Hayward did not go through these modern renovations, the World Championships wouldn’t have even considered Eugene a host site for the event.

But Tracktown USA is only getting better and better.

You can listen to the full Talkin’ Ducks Podcast below:

Ashton Eaton advises fellow Olympian athletes to take advantage of this extra time

Ashton Eaton advises fellow Olympian athletes to take advantage of this extra time

Sometimes, the best kind of training is to re-train not just your body but your mind.

Finding a new way to train for a sport can be high beneficial in the long run.

That is the exact advice that former Oregon Duck Track and Field star and Olympian Ashton Eaton would give to other Olympians who had their Olympic training interrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

I would say, you have to use pretty much every adverse scenario as an athlete somehow to your advantage. Every step backward could potentially be a step forward. This could be an opportunity for you to really get more prepared for the Olympic Games. — Ashton Eaton

So I think you can use this ‘extra time’ if you will, to your advantage and just focusing on your training and getting better. — Ashton Eaton

You heard it also on the Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with Oregon men’s basketball guard Payton Pritchard. Since being forced inside with the StayHome initiative, Pritchard has continued sharpening his craft and doing his dribbling routine in his garage while also running the hills of West Linn, Oregon.

Sabrina Ionescu becomes first Duck to take home Naismith Trophy

Sabrina Ionescu becomes first Duck to take home Naismith Trophy

The Naismith Trophy is finally headed to Eugene. 

For the first time in Oregon history, a Duck has taken home the Naismith Trophy. 

Eric Horowitz of Citizen Watch announced on CBS Friday morning that Sabrina Ionescu has been named the recipient of the Citizen Naismith Trophy, which recognizes the nation’s most outstanding women’s college basketball player. She is the first ever Oregon player to take home the honor.

Ionescu edged Baylor’s Lauren Cox, South Carolina’s Tyasha Harris and Kentucky’s Rhyne Howard for the illustrious nod. 

The triple-double queen is coming off a historic career at Oregon and a remarkable senior year. Ionescu took home the Pac-12 Player of the Year for the third-straight year and completed a four-year sweep on the all-Pac-12 team. She became the first player in NCAA history to reach 2,000 career points, 1,000 assists and 1,000 rebounds. 

Less than 24 hours ago, Ionescu added a second Wade Trophy to her growing collection of postseason awards. She has already taken home Player of the Year honors from the Associated press, USBWA, and ESPN.com. She remains a finalist for the Nancy Lieberman Award, which recognizes the nation’s top point guard and the Wooden Award. 

In her career at Oregon, Ionescu recorded 2,562 points, 1,091 assists and 1,040 rebounds along with 26 career triple-doubles.

Ashton Eaton’s most memorable moments at historic Hayward Field

Ashton Eaton’s most memorable moments at historic Hayward Field

They don’t call Eugene, Oregon ‘Tracktown USA’ for nothing.

Hayward Field, built in 1919 and home to the University of Oregon Track & Field teams, isn’t just recognized at the collegiate level, but on the national stage. 

Every passing season has brought changes, but the two constants have been excellence and accolades. More USA Olympic Track and Field Trials and NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships hosted than any other venue; more “World’s Greatest Athlete” titles bestowed upon decathlon world record breakers than at any other venue; and more incredible performances than you could name in the time it took Pre to run a mile. (Hayward Field history).

When it was announced that historic Hayward Field would be remodeled, there was a lot of emotion on both ends of the spectrum. Some were happy about the remodel, making the stadium safer for fans and spectators, new track and field surface, updated design, etc. However, there was definitely some backlash as well for those who shared an emotional connection with the history of what made Tracktown USA so special.

Here are just some of the highlights:

- Hosted first NCAA Championships in 1962

- Football played its last game in Hayward Field in 1966

- Hosted U.S. Olympic Trials in 1972

- Appeared in the movie ‘Animal House’ in 1978

- Hosted IAAF World Junior Championships in 2014

Former Oregon track star and Olympian Ashton Eaton joins host Jordan Kent on the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast.

Eaton shared some of his favorite memories at the historic Hayward Field, specifically the Olympic Trials in 2012. 

I remember sitting basically off to the side where the 1500 meter starts for the decathalon. I was about to run, I knew I had to run a certain time to break the world record. I was basically sitting in the storage shed with the decathletes getting ready to run. I just remember it being really quiet in there, which is not normal for decathletes together waiting for an event. — Ashton Eaton

This is where things got interesting…

I think everyone just knew what was happening. My friends and athletes came up to me and said ‘Hey, just let us know if you need help. We’re here for you man, we think you can do it.’ Just that moment, sitting at Hayward knowing there’s fans out there waiting, knowing that 1500 meter line is the first place I remember meeting my future wife (Brianne). So many memories just bottled up into that moment. — Ashton Eaton

Eaton went on to break the world record in 2012 with 9,039 points to beat Roman Sebrle's 11-year-old mark by 13 points.

You can listen to the full Talkin’ Ducks Podcast here: