Oregon Ducks

Payton Pritchard's "extremely impressive" weekend at the Nike Basketball Academy

Payton Pritchard's "extremely impressive" weekend at the Nike Basketball Academy

An in-state prodigy. A West Linn High School alumnus. A soon-to-be four year Oregon basketball starter. 

Senior Payton Pritchard is back and his stock is rising higher and faster than ever. 

Remember this breakaway dunk vs. the Washington Huskies in the Pac-12 tournament championship game last season?

Pritchard has been on a different level since then. Stifling defense paired with good decision-making. The 6-foot-2 guard is the glue that head coach Dana Altman has relied heavily upon in the past three seasons with major roster turnover. From a leadership standpoint, Pritchard has helped the younger players get acclimated to the playbook and collegiate basketball, plus he is the guard that sets the pace both on and off the court.

The 2019 Nike Basketball Academy took place last weekend which featured 60 future NBA prospects, Pritchard included. 

According to Jonathan Givony, an ESPN Draft Analyst and Reporter, Pritchard “had an extremely impressive weekend” and was named one of the more interesting collegiate prospect performances among others.

 

You can read the article here.

The moment the 2015 Gatorade Oregon Player of the Year stepped onto UO’s campus, he's made an impact. Pritchard earned the starting spot during his freshman season from then junior guard Casey Benson. That season, the Ducks made it to the Final Four but lost to North Carolina 77-76. 

Last season, Pritchard averaged 12.9 points per game, 68 total steals and shot 83.6 percent from the free throw line. 

Some notables on Pritchard:

- Ranks 2nd in UO career steals with 164. Trails only UO career leader Kenya Wilkins (213/1993-97).

- Ranks 4th in UO career assists with 487. Next up is Luke Ridnour (500/2000-03).

- Became the 37th 1,000-point scorer in UO history at Arizona on Jan. 17.

- Led the nation in total minutes played (1,349), starting all 38 games on 2018-19

Headstrong: Former Oregon football lineman Zach Okun's message to those struggling with mental health

Headstrong: Former Oregon football lineman Zach Okun's message to those struggling with mental health

The month of November is Men's Health Awareness Month. ‘The Movember Foundation’ uses November to bring awareness to various men’s physical and mental health issues, as well as support to those tackling prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health, and more.

Throughout this month, NBC Sports will be releasing numerous videos that feature sports superstars discussing the importance of mental health as well as how they approach the subject. 

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Zach Okun received his first collegiate scholarship for athletics in eighth grade. He was more than 300 pounds and as tall as his teachers. There was already a path laid out before him regarding his future: football.

For those who play the game of football, a certain edge is required to be successful in such a violent sport. Okun was just that, but there was more than meets the eye. In August 2019 during a preseason practice, Okun suffered a severe concussion. 

He battled with depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts…

“I was terrified. That was my biggest fear, was people thinking less of me because of what was going on inside my head. To this day, if I think I did something wrong in class, I will think about it until it drives me insane or I fall asleep. 

Anything I did wrong was the end of the world. And that’s a hard way to live.”

Okun’s football career quickly ended, but his fight with mental health lives on to this day. He sought out therapy and now advocates to anyone who may be in a similar situation that he was and still is today.

He currently attends Santa Clara University and is pursuing a degree in law. 

Historically, quarterback Justin Herbert plays extremely well vs. ASU

Historically, quarterback Justin Herbert plays extremely well vs. ASU

Oregon (9-1, 7-0 Pac-12) has secured a spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game as the North Division champion and is in the running as a College Football Playoff contender. The Ducks have two conference games left and Arizona State (5-5, 2-5) is the next opponent they must beat. 

The Ducks look to stay unbeaten in conference play as they head to Tempe… Here are 10 numbers you need to know about the 4:30 p.m. kickoff at Sun Devil Stadium.

ON A HERBERT HIGH

Coming off a season-high 333 passing yards vs. Arizona, quarterback Justin Herbert is displaying incredible accuracy. He’s completed 70 percent of his passes in three-straight games, connecting on 62-of-84 (73.8) over that stretch. Herbert has historically played well against ASU. In his career against the Sun Devils, Herbert is 69-of-111 for 1,032 yards, nine TDs and two interceptions. His career-best 489 passing yards came as a freshman vs. ASU in 2016.

CAN YOU SAY CLUTCH?

The Ducks have outscored their opponents 56-20 in the second half on the road. Oregon is also 25-for-41 (.610) on third down conversions in the last three games.

SINGLE DIGITS

Oregon has held six opponents under 10 points, which leads the nation and is a program best since 1960.

SPREADING THE LOVE

Oregon has 19 players who have scored a touchdown and 19 players who have at least a half-sack, both of which lead the nation.

CRISTO-BALLIN!

A win would make Mario Cristobal the fourth head coach in program history to win 10 games in a season. 

KEEPING UP WITH THE JOHNSONS

Johnny Johnson III is coming off a four-catch performance vs. Arizona, including a 73-yard catch, the longest of his career and longest by a Duck in 2019. Juwan Johnson’s potential is also being realized, totaling 16 receptions, 263 yards and four touchdowns in the last three games. He led Oregon with five catches, one touchdown and 93 yards vs. Arizona.

THIBODEAUX TRAIN, FULL STEAM AHEAD

Freshman defensive tackle Kayvon Thibodeaux has 4.5 tackles for loss and three sacks in the last two games. He’s coming off a season-high three tackle for loss performance against Arizona. The highest rated recruit in program history, Thibodeaux ranks 4th among all freshman nationally in sacks(5.5).

STRONG SHANE

For the second time this season, Oregon left guard Shane Lemieux was named Pac-12 offensive lineman of the week. Against Arizona, Lemieux was the highest-graded (80.4) guard in the Pac-12 and third nationally. He has not allowed a hit, hurry or pressure on Herbert over 67 snaps and leads the Ducks with a season-high seven knockdowns.

DEVILS COME UP SHORT IN CORVALLIS

A failed two-point conversion proved to be the difference in Arizona’s almost-comeback win at Oregon State. ASU rallied from two touchdowns down late in the game but the Beavers beat the Sun Devils, 35-34.

ARIZONA STATE VS. THE RUN

ASU has held eight of its last 10 opponents to under 150 total rushing yards (151 vs. Utah, 217 vs. UCLA). Although, the Sun Devils pass defense ranks 115th in the nation.

How Mycah Pittman's injury affects Oregon

How Mycah Pittman's injury affects Oregon

The Oregon Ducks (9-1, 7-0 Pac-12) have lost one of their most dynamic offensive weapons most likely for the rest of the season, due to injury. Freshman wide receiver Mycah Pittman’s broken arm suffered in the first quarter of Oregon’s 34-6 win vs. Arizona will sideline him for six weeks and creates a need for more contributions.

Is Pittman done for the 2019 season?

Oregon Coach Mario Cristobal communicated the possibility of Pittman returning to play in the Ducks’ bowl game. The College Football Playoff semifinal (Dec. 28) or Rose Bowl (Jan. 1) are about six weeks out.

Already this season, Pittman rehabbed back from a broken collarbone that caused him to miss the opening four games.

"He’s proven before he’s a quick healer," Cristobal said. "Our training staff, our medical staff is second to none. I mean the very best in the country… And Mycah is a guy that attacks every opportunity to get better a hundred miles per hour. If anyone can heal quickly, it will be him, and if the timeline matches up, certainly that’s a consideration."

How does this impact the depth chart?

Oregon lists freshman Josh Delgado behind starter Jaylon Redd at slot receiver, in Pittman’s role. The Ducks moved Daewood Davis once again back on offense to add depth. Listed backups Davis, Josh Delgado and Bryan Addison will likely see increased playing time with Pittman out.

How can Oregon replace Pittman’s contributions?

In six games, Pittman has 14 receptions for 197 yards and two touchdowns. His speed and relentless tenacity will be missed from the receiving corps. 

Without Pittman, look for starting playmakers Johnny Johnson III, Juwan Johnson and Jaylon Redd to continue their positive progress in the passing game with quarterback Justin Herbert.

Redd leads the team with nine touchdowns and has caught multiple passes in 13 straight games. Johnny Johnson III is coming off a four-catch performance vs. Arizona, including a 73-yard catch, the longest of his career and longest by a Duck in 2019. Juwan Johnson’s potential is also being realized, totaling 16 receptions, 263 yards, and four touchdowns in the last three games. He led Oregon with five catches, one touchdown and 93 yards vs. Arizona.

Who else is a possible backup receiver?

“Justin Collins is a guy last year in this game proved to be very valuable, caught a slant down there and got us in the tight red zone at the end of the half,” Crisotbal said. “He’s been coming along. He’s coming off an ACL as well.”

Cristobal also mentioned Isaiah Crocker, J.R Waters and Lance Wilhoite as options UO will explore. Although, Wilhoite and Waters are both coming off injuries and are likely not caught up to speed.

The Ducks travel to Tempe for their final conference road trip to face the Arizona State Sun Devils (5-5, 2-5 Pac-12) at 4:30 p.m., Saturday.

Oregon wide receiver Mycah Pittman undergoes surgery, out six weeks

Oregon wide receiver Mycah Pittman undergoes surgery, out six weeks

Oregon freshman wide receiver Mycah Pittman appears to have had surgery after suffering a broken arm injury in the No. 6 Ducks 34-6 win over Arizona.  Oregon coach Mario Cristobal confirmed Pittman's injury is a broken arm that has a six-week timeline for return. Cristobal said a bowl game return is possible, because “he’s proven to be a quick healer.” Below is a Instagram post from Pittman's mother.

Pittman has posted on Twitter and Instagram, indicating he will be back in 2020:

View this post on Instagram

When it get ugly, you gotta find a way.

A post shared by MJP (@mycahpittman) on

Pittman and quarterback Justin Herbert connected on an 11-yard pass and Pittman came down awkwardly after being tackled. Early indications suggest that Pittman's injury could be a broken wrist.

The freshman was escorted to the sideline and carted to the Oregon locker room and did not return.

Already this season, Pittman rehabbed back from a broken collarbone that caused him to miss the opening four games. In six games, Pittman has 14 receptions for 197 yards and two touchdowns. One of Oregon’s most dynamic receivers, the loss of Pittman is a serious blow to the Ducks and their Pac-12 title goals.

Which college football team should Duck fans be rooting for now?

Which college football team should Duck fans be rooting for now?

The Oregon Ducks may hold their College Football Playoff fate in their own hands right now. A lot of people believe if they win out, whip Utah in the Pac-12 championship game, they will punch their ticket to the national playoff.

But I’m not sure Auburn – the only team to have beaten the Ducks this season -- doesn’t still own a big piece of Oregon’s postseason fate. That’s because the Tigers meet Alabama on 11/30 in a crucial SEC game. The Crimson Tide, of course, will be playing without its All-America quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who is out for the season. If ‘Bama can somehow figure out a way to win at Auburn without Tagovailoa, I would guess it has a real shot at finishing ahead of the Ducks in the rankings.

Oregon lost 29-21 to Auburn on a neutral field with nine seconds to go, after leading all the way. But the Ducks had an edge in that game, playing the Tigers in the very first college game for Auburn’s true-freshman  starting quarterback Bo Nix. And although Nix was terrific late in the game, he was shaky early and Oregon didn’t take full advantage of that. If Alabama can beat the Tigers on the road, that would certainly make it easier for the committee to pick the Tide over the Ducks.

And I think the big problem for the Ducks is that Alabama is, well, Alabama. That game a week ago vs. LSU drew a terrific television rating and that counts for something, I would guess. Even though it’s not supposed to count.

Oregon must overcome the Alabama aura and also hope that Georgia doesn’t knock off LSU in the SEC championship game, which would probably push both those teams into the final four. along with Clemson and Ohio State.

Can the Ducks get into the final four? Yes, I think so. But remember, the final four is a football’s version of a dog show. It’s all about appearances. You better be ready to look charming, cute, adorable, etc. when the judges are looking.

You must not only be the best team, you have to look good doing it. And that’s not going to be easy, especially coming out of the Pac-12, where I believe it’s difficult for teams to improve throughout the long season because the caliber of opposition is often not going to be challenging. Just last week, Oregon wasn’t at its best but Arizona wasn’t good enough to even make the game close.

A lot still has to go Oregon’s way -- including Auburn putting a good beating on Alabama next week.

Injury updates to Mycah Pittman, CJ Verdell from Mario Cristobal

Injury updates to Mycah Pittman, CJ Verdell from Mario Cristobal

No. 6 Oregon (9-1, 7-0 Pac-12) defeated Arizona 34-6 on Saturday night to officially claim the Pac-12 North crown and lock in a spot in the Pac-12 title game in December.

Before the Ducks can think that far ahead, they must also take care of business with their remaining schedule: at Arizona State and vs. Oregon State. 

Oregon Coach Mario Cristobal gave an injury update to true freshman wide receiver Mycah Pittman as well as sophomore running back CJ Verdell, who both left the game in the first half.

Mycah Pittman - right wrist

“Mycah hurt his arm. The severity of it, we’ll know but it’s a pretty good shot, everyone saw it on film. He took a pretty good hit there when he had his hand planted in the ground.”

Pittman tweeted the following this morning, further details have not been released:

CJ Verdell - arm

“CJ was more of a stinger. He got hyper-extended so he just wanted to get full strength back in his arm by the end of the game. He was back to full strength,” said Cristobal.

Sophomore running back Travis Dye finished with 14 attempts for 71 yards, but it was Darrian Felix, the back that has battled injury throughout his Oregon career, who made an appearance on Saturday and recorded 11 attempts for 49 yards.

More to come from Cristobal on the progress of these players when he gets a report.

MORE ON THE DUCKS

In search of his own legacy, Justin Herbert has one of his biggest nights with Marcus Mariota in the house 

What they're saying: Oregon claims the North crown, clinches spot in Pac-12 title game

In search of his own legacy, Justin Herbert has one of his biggest nights with Marcus Mariota in the house

In search of his own legacy, Justin Herbert has one of his biggest nights with Marcus Mariota in the house

The No. 6 Oregon Ducks are Pac-12 Conference North Division Champions, contenders for the College Football Playoff, on a nine-game winning streak and have their first 7-0 start to Pac-12 Conference play since 2012.

In a 34-6 victory over Arizona, official King of the North quarterback Justin Herbert demonstrated how he helped lead Oregon (9-1, 7-0 Pac-12) to those massive accomplishments.

“Magical” is how teammate senior linebacker Troy Dye described Herbert’s performance.

“You get the ball in (number)10’s hands and it’s ridiculous, anything can happen,” Dye continued. “He’s a magician with the ball…I’ll tell you what, he makes throws even crazier in practice.”

Herbert’s 333 passing yards marks his most this season and fourth most in his Oregon career. He became just the second player in Oregon history to surpass 10,000 total career yards and 100 total career touchdowns, sharing the milestone with former Oregon quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota.  

Witnessing from the sideline donning an Oregon-clad baseball hat pulled down, was Mariota. Despite his efforts to remain incognito, the camera found him, which brought 54,219 Ducks fans to their feet in a standing ovation. He took his hat off and bowed to the crowd in appreciation.

“I can always tell when he’s in town because it’s the loudest the crowd ever gets,” Oregon Coach Mario Cristobal said of Mariota. “There is nothing like being a player and seeing not only all the greats, former Oregon Ducks coming back and being around the program…I love it, will continue to invite them and want to see it happen much more.”

Cristobal stressed the top priority to bring the “Men of Oregon” back to strengthen the Duck legacy and “Oregon family.” He continued to share that when he was a player at Miami, meeting alumni was one of his favorite aspects of the game. Crisobal emphasized that it brings a perspective that the current Ducks are “borrowing the jerseys” and apart of something bigger.

The attention shifted back to the other sneaky-quick quarterback with an elite arm.

Herbert’s show started right away. On the second play of the game, he launched a 73-yard touchdown pass to Johnny Johnson III, the longest pass play of his season. The highlights continued with a reverse flea flicker 53-yard touchdown toss to an extended Juwan Johnson, worthy of a SportsCenter Top 10 nod. Herbert whipped his third touchdown with a back-shoulder bullet to Spencer Webb for 24 yards. Herbert’s fourth touchdown went to Travis Dye on a perfectly-timed 33-yard screen pass, extending Oregon’s comfortable lead before turning the reins over to back-up quarterback Tyler Shough.

Picking the best moment would be challenging. Good thing it’s not necessary. What is mandatory, however, is keeping the offensive momentum as the Ducks finish their two remaining Pac-12 games and beyond. Arizona’s defense is the worst in the conference and looming is a title game against the stout No. 7 Utah Utes.

It'll be the first time Oregon competes for the conference title since 2014 during Mariota's final season. When Mariota is in town, his legacy is loud enough to hurt an eardrum. Now, it’s Herbert’s opportunity to establish his own.

What they're saying: Oregon claims the North crown, clinches Pac-12 title spot

What they're saying: Oregon claims the North crown, clinches Pac-12 title spot

Goal accomplished.

It was said at the beginning of the season, that a goal was set out for a Pac-12 Championship. The No. 6 Oregon Ducks inched one step closer to that with a 34-6 win over the Arizona Wildcats on Saturday night in a Pac-12 After Dark special in Autzen Stadium.

The Ducks advance to 7-0 in conference play and now, with two games still remaining on their regular season schedule, have officially locked up the north and are heading to San Jose in December.

Here's how the fans, players reacted to this accomplishment.

MORE ON THE DUCKS

In search of his own legacy, Herbert has one of his biggest nights with Mariota in the house

Instant Analysis: Oregon beats Arizona, clinches Pac-12 North

 

Instant Analysis: Oregon beats Arizona, clinches Pac-12 North

Instant Analysis: Oregon beats Arizona, clinches Pac-12 North

EUGENE – In a decisive game, the No. 6 Oregon Ducks beat Arizona, 34-6, in front of a deafening 54,219 fans at Autzen Stadium, clinching their third Pac-12 North Division title and punching their tickets to the conference championship game.

The win extends the Ducks’ winning streak to nine games and improves them to 7-0 in Pac-12 Conference play for the first time since 2012. Under Coach Mario Cristobal, Oregon (9-1, 7-0 Pac-12) is now 12-1 at home. With the victory, a berth into the College Football Playoff is still possible. 

Here are the top three takeaways from the contest.

1. Duck Dominance

The win exhibited balanced strengths all over the field. 

Offensively, Oregon’s passing attack thrived. Quarterback Justin Herbert threw incredible highlights, including a 73-yard touchdown pass to Johnny Johnson (longest pass play of UO’s season) and 53-yard touchdown to Juwan Johnson, who made a Sports Center Top 10-type catch. When utilized, the Duck running game was powerful.

UO’s defense smothered. The Ducks held the Wildcats to two field goals through the first half, while pressuring Arizona quarterbacks Khalil Tate and Grant Gunnell. Senior Troy Dye, senior Bryson Young and junior Austin Faoliu provided a third-down sacks to end Arizona’s drives.

2. Injury bug strikes

Oregon freshman wide receiver Mycah Pittman suffered a potential season ending injury in the first quarter. Pittman and quarterback Justin Herbert connected on an 11-yard pass and Pittman came down awkwardly after being tackled. Early indications suggest that Pittman's injury could be a broken wrist.

Already this season, Pittman rehabbed back from a broken collarbone that caused him to miss the opening four games. In five games, Pittman has 13 receptions for 186 yards and three touchdowns. One of Oregon’s most dynamic receivers, the loss of Pittman would be a serious blow to the Ducks and their Pac-12 title goals.

Sophomore running back CJ Verdell was shaken up the second quarter, he left the game and did not return to play in the second half. 
 

3.  VIPs in Autzen Stadium

Through donated tickets, Oregon had more than 1,000 military veterans and their families at the game in conjunction with Veterans Day. Former Ducks Marcus Mariota, Tony Brooks-James, Jeff Lockie and Charles Nelson also were on the sidelines and in attendance for the win.

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More to come with quotes and videos from Coach Mario Cristobal and Ducks players.