Oregon Ducks

Ruthy is ruthless in Ducks' Sweet 16 victory

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Ruthy is ruthless in Ducks' Sweet 16 victory

How Oregon won: A bit of nerves perhaps in the opening minutes, for the Oregon Ducks settled in nicely in this NCAA Sweet 16 matchup against the Central Michigan Chippewas. Lead by sophomore forward Ruthy Hebard down low, on both sides of the court, the No. 2 Ducks cruised to an 83-69 win over No. 11 Central Michigan and punch their ticket into the Elite 8.

It took awhile for both team to get settled in. Two hot-shooting three-point teams, and neither hit a three-pointer until halfway through the first quarter. Hebard established her game early. Her teammates found her down low, one or two dribbles to get to her right side, and then a high-percentage layup, the shot she has mastered so much this season. 33 times in a row, in fact. Hebard records her second double-double of the post-season tournament with 23 points and 14 rebounds. She needed four more blocks for a triple-double.

The Ducks defense came to play as well. Central Michigan comes in ranked No. 13 in 3-pt field goals attempted. Oregon coach Kelly Graves said during pregame that the Ducks must be mindful and defend the three-point line, and make sure the Ducks get on the boards because the Chippewas like to pass the ball out if they get an offensive rebound. Oregon’s defense held Central Michigan to 7-of-27 (26%) from behind the arc. Along with making sure there was a hand in the air on the Chippewas shooters, Oregon also recorded 11 total blocks, six alone coming from Hebard. Oregon will need that same defensive pressure down low against Notre Dame on Monday with their height down low.

What it means: The No. 2 Ducks are headed to the NCAA Elite 8 for back-to-back consecutive seasons and will face No. 1 Notre Dame on Monday evening in Spokane, WA. The Irish are coming off a 90-84 battle against No. 4 Texas A&M lead by starters Marina Mabrey and Arike Ogunbowale’s 25 points each.

High-flying Ducks: Sophomore guard Sabrina Ionescu continues to shine when the spotlight keeps getting brighter. Ionescu was one rebound shy of her 11th career triple-double. She finished with 16 points, 10 assists, and nine rebounds. Senior Lexi Bando finished with 14 points hitting 4-of-11 from three-point range. Junior Oti Gildon, playing in front of her home town fans of Spokane, came up again huge with 10 points and seven rebounds off the bench. She continues to be a stable presence off the bench for Graves.

Foul play: Gildon finished with three fouls. 

"Freak athlete" Troy Dye: One more game or one more season?

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"Freak athlete" Troy Dye: One more game or one more season?

Since the minute linebacker Troy Dye arrived in Eugene, Oregon, he’s disrupted backfields and locked down in coverage but has his reign of terror on Pac-12 offenses come to an end?

Dye has a major decision to make and a looming Jan. 14 deadline; forgo his final season of eligibility and declare for the 2019 NFL draft or return for his senior season at Oregon?

“He’s a great linebacker. We haven’t had a linebacker like him in awhile,” senior defensive end Jalen Jelks said. “When he doesn’t make a play, he thinks about it the rest of the game and then gets after it more… It’s intense.”

Jelks is correct. The last UO linebacker to throw up similar statistics to Dye was Michael Clay (linebacker 2009-2012). Dye is the first Duck with 100 tackles in back-to-back seasons since Clay (2011-12).

Dye’s domination as a Duck etched him into the history books; the junior is the 15th player in program history to reach 300 career tackles, earning the Oregon defensive player of the year honor as a freshman, sophomore and junior. 

But will Oregon’s leading tackler for three-straight seasons play his last game in a Duck uniform in the Redbox Bowl on December 31st?

Dye has not indicated his plans for the 2019 season, yet. Although, he did send this tweet after the Ducks landed the top rated high school player in the country, defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux.

So, does that indicate Dye was planning on going to the NFL before the Ducks beat out Alabama, Florida State and Florida to win the Thibodeaux lottery?

Adding the 6'5'' 235-pound elite pass rusher with scary speed and agility to the Oregon roster certainly didn’t hurt the Ducks’ chances at getting Dye back for another season.

UO coach Mario Cristobal told Dye to lay off the cryptic tweets, but plans on sitting down with him and his family to help discuss the benefits and disadvantages of waiting or declaring for the NFL this season.

“I think everybody has a decision to make and some make more sense than others and the facts will certainly at least points you in the right direction,” Cristobal said.

Oregon has requested scouting reports from the NFL advisory committee for a number of draft eligible juniors including: quarterback Justin Herbert, wide receiver Dillon Mitchell and Dye. Oregon coaches plan on helping draft-eligible prospects make an informed decision once those scouting reports are received.

“Troy is special because he can do more than just make tackles,” Scott said. “He can cover, he can rush the passer, he can fill a gap… Overall, he has control of our defense and that’s one thing that is intangible."

Dye is gaining traction in NFL draft circles, scouting reports often listing him as a “freak athlete” with elite agility and lateral quickness that has the ability to power through linemen and can get skinny to shoot multiple gaps.

The concerns around Dye revolve around his thin, tall frame. At 6-foot-3, 224-pounds, Scouts call out his build and worry that he’ll get shoved around against NFL blockers.

Draft network named Dye as one of the top five draft eligible Pac-12 players that would benefit by playing another year at the college level and bulking up in the weight room.

Dye’s draft projection ranges from as high as the fourth round to undrafted.

A promising NFL talent and a proven college star, Dye has less than a month to decide if he will continue to pester Pac-12 backfields for another season or not.

Kayvon Thibodeaux: The greatest icing on the cake or another huge domino?


Kayvon Thibodeaux: The greatest icing on the cake or another huge domino?

Mark today down as a huge moment in the history of Oregon Football who got a committment from 6'5'' 234lb defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, the top rated high school player in the country. It is Oregon's highest rated commitment in program history, as the Ducks won the Thibodeaux lottery beating out Alabama, Florida and Florida State. 

Outside of the obvious advantage of signing, you know, THE BEST PLAYER IN THE COUNTRY, the question now is: does Thibodeaux represent the greatest 'icing on the cake' ever as the cap to an already stellar recruiting class? Or is he a huge domino that will have a ripple effect across the program?

There are two ways this domino can fall, and they aren't mutual exclusive: 

1. Thibodeaux could induce a flip by another highly rated recruit in Oregon's favor. What defensive tackle or linebacker wouldn't want to play alongside him?

2. Thibodeaux could also be so good, with so much upside, that he could convince some of the current Ducks looking to the NFL to stick around for another season. 

I truly believe Herbert is still undecided on if he will declare for the 2019 NFL Draft. The addition of a player like Thibodeaux, is one more “pro” to stay for his senior season.

It has also already made junior Troy Dye tweet that he has to re-evaluate his future.

If Herbert passes on the NFL draft for another year of development as a Duck, UO will enter next fall as the Pac-12 conference favorite and a legitimate playoff contender. Considering Herbert is a Eugene native that wants to accomplish big things as a Duck, the addition of the highest-ranked recruit in Oregon football history could be a factor in his decision. Keeping Dye on the defensive side along with the addition of Thibodeaux would make for formidable defense in 2019.


Make no mistake, Thibodeaux will compete for a starting job from day one and should be an immediate impact player. Oregon recruited him to play defensive end, which is his desired position. Listed at 6'5'', 234 pounds, he’s an elite pass rusher with scary speed and agility that creates major issues for offensive lines, even with double (or triple?) teams. Thibodeaux enters into an Oregon pass rushing unit that will lose two leaders in Justin Hollins and Jalen Jelks to graduation.

Add in the fact that Thibodeaux isn't just another football player, he's also a smart kid who should excel in the classroom. Evan Barnes, who covered high school football in the LA area had this to say about Thibodeaux:


Cristobal came to Oregon in 2016 with a reputation as one of the top recruiters in the country. While at Alabama, he was instrumental in helping the Crimson Tide haul in top prospects year after year. Fast forward to 2018, Cristobal is Oregon’s head coach and leading UO to its best recruiting class in school history.  It’s Cristobal’s honest and welcoming approach that makes recruits, and their mom’s, trust him. 

“Mario Cristobal is a great guy, my mom loves him, and he’s a God-fearing man,” Thibodeaux said during his selection. “He can take my game to the next level.”

The five-star recruit also commented that Cristobal talked to him about more than just football, expressing an enthusiasm in his other interests, which include journalism. Oregon’s school of journalism was another draw for Thibodeaux.

So now Duck fans will need to sit back and wait to see if Thibodeaux's commitment has some fringe benefits to the Oregon Ducks 2019 roster.  

What's Justin Herbert's future? Q&A with Bleacher Report's Matt Miller

What's Justin Herbert's future? Q&A with Bleacher Report's Matt Miller

A NFL career awaits Oregon's ultra-talented junior quarterback Justin Herbert. The question is, how long will that career have to wait?

Another question, what do NFL decision makers make of the 6-foot-6, 240-pound junior with the powerful right arm and sneaky fast wheels?

To answer that question, I reached out to Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller, who just disclosed that his sources say ‘no one has heard a thing’ about if Herbert plans to declare for the 2019 NFL draft. Miller’s candid answers reveal when he expects a decision announcement, what is weighing on Herbert the most, and that numerous reports depict Herbert as different, weird or immature.

The lure of the NFL and the riches that come with it are tough to resist. But Herbert is not your typical athlete, and fits the mold of a player who might stay for his senior season.

Let’s dive in!

Last day to declare for the NFL Draft is Jan. 14, do you think we will know Herbert’s decision before the end of the year?

Miller: I would expect an announcement after the bowl game. Given his standing that might just be a press conference where he announces his intentions. I would be surprised if anything leaked before an announcement. 

In your article you said no one has heard a thing… Why keep everyone waiting?

Miller: The feeling I got is that Herbert genuinely hasn’t made a decision, which is why it’s been so quiet. Normally we’d be hearing he’d signed with an agent, but that hasn’t been the case. I don’t see it as a scheme or plan, just that he’s truly undecided. 

What do you think is weighing on him the most? The chance to play with his brother? The money? His commitment to education? Something else?

Miller: I can only speculate, but it could be a lot of everything. Many sources referred to him as a different kind of guy who might not feel rushed to get into the NFL. The chance to play with his brother, accomplish more on and off the field in college, and better prep for the league are all great individual reasons so collectively it’s a strong case to return. 

If you could give him advice, what would you tell him?

Miller: My official advice would be to declare. He’s a likely top 10 selection and really can’t help his draft stock by returning. He could absolutely improve as a player, but that’s unlikely to result in him being drafted any higher. Next year’s quarterback class also looks very strong at this point. The competition to be QB1 is weak right now. 

Some consider his 2018 season underwhelming, do you think he hurt his draft stock?

Miller: I wouldn’t call this season underwhelming. Too often people place unrealistic expectations on quarterbacks who are high draft prospects and expect huge statistical seasons or awards, but the traits that make them good prospects don’t always result in high yardage or touchdowns. And he’s still the top ranked passer, so it didn’t affect him. 

What is your favorite thing about Herbert you think will translate well to the NFL?

Miller: He’s a beautiful passer. And I don’t even mean the hair. Mechanically he’s flawless. He has excellent size and arm strength. He can move well out of the pocket. There’s a lot to love. 

What do you think will be a liability/needs to improve on most?

Miller: The biggest area to improve is the mental aspect. There are numerous reports that he’s different, weird or immature. That’s one area where a return to Oregon could allow him to improve as a prospect. 

He’s the top QB on most draft boards, if he declares, where do you see him going?

Miller: As of now, the Giants and Jaguars are the most likely to consider a QB in round 1 and he fits there from a value standpoint as a top ten pick. 

Do you think he should keep the HAIR?!

Miller: HAVE to keep the hair. 

Nation's No. 3 linebacker commit edges Cristobal closer to best ever Oregon football recruiting class

Nation's No. 3 linebacker commit edges Cristobal closer to best ever Oregon football recruiting class

Can you believe college football early signing period is less than a week away? Recruits can ink their National Letters of Intent from Dec. 20-22 and officially join their programs of choice or wait until the traditional signing day on Feb. 7.

Undoubtedly, there will be some surprises between now and February 7. However as it stands, the Ducks 2019 recruiting class is No. 7 in the nation and tops the Pac-12 Conference. Today, Oregon added the highest-ranked linebacker in program history and the nation's No. 3 inside linebacker, Mase Funa.

“Obviously we are on the road right now, recruiting, going 100 miles per hour,” coach Mario Cristobal said in a press conference last week over the phone.

Cristobal came to Oregon in 2016 with a reputation as one of the top recruiters in the country. While at Alabama, he was instrumental in helping the Crimson Tide haul in top prospects year after year. This success earned him National Recruiter of the Year in 2015 from 247 Sports.

Fast forward to 2018, Cristobal is Oregon’s head coach and the Ducks are having one of their best recruiting classes in school history. Oregon has never finished with a class ranked in the top 10 of the 247Sports team rankings.

The #M19ghtOregon class received a nice boost with the addition of its 19th commit in Funa. The inside linebacker is the 13th highest commit in UO history. Funa shut his recruitment down and committed to Oregon after an official visit to USC.

Who is next?

Five-star defensive end prospect Kayvon Thibodeaux is on commitment watch. According to 247Sports, Thibodeaux is rated as the No. 2 prospect in the 2019 class and would be the highest ranked commitment in program history. 

He has narrowed his decision to four schools; Alabama, Florida, Florida State and Oregon. The Thousand Oaks, Calif., native will make his announcement at his commitment party on December 15th.

Here are the major recruiting moves that Oregon made at the beginning of this month.

Will Oregon finish with a top 10 recruiting class? Stay tuned!

Can you guess the most penalized team in the nation? It's not Oregon football

Can you guess the most penalized team in the nation? It's not Oregon football

Oregon’s penalty problem dramatically improved this season.

“Dramatic” might not do it justice. The Ducks cut their average penalties per game almost in half in one season under coach Mario Cristobal.

Oregon was the most penalized team in the country last season under coach Willie Taggart; averaging an atrocious 9.4 penalties for 88.3 penalty yards per game.

To begin 2018, Cristobal emphasized the cure to correcting bad habits from 2017 was a new-found sense of discipline, plus a culture of accountability and attention to detail.
It worked.

In his first year as head coach, Cristobal’s goal was lead the Pac-12 conference with the fewest penalties. He came very close to reaching that goal.

This season, the Ducks averaged 5.3 penalties per game, which ranks second in the conference for fewest penalties per game, behind Washington’s 4.9. The Ducks’ 50.7 penalty yards per game ranked fourth in the conference.

What did Cristobal do to improve discipline? The Ducks have officials at practice that join the coaching staff and players during film sessions to correct bad habits.

“You’re either teaching it or allowing it to happen,” Cristobal said. “And we allowed it (in 2017).”

From dead last in 2017, Oregon finished the 2018 season 35th among FBS teams in penalties. That’s what I call dramatic!

Can you guess what team is the most penalized in the nation this season? Taggart's Florida State Seminoles.  FSU averaged 9.2 penalties a game, a major increase from last season's 6.1 penalties per game.

What's going on with Oregon Ducks defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt?

What's going on with Oregon Ducks defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt?

It remains to be seen if defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt will return to Eugene for another season under Oregon coach Mario Cristobal. 

Leavitt is the highest paid coordinator in the Pac-12 Conference, earning $1.7 million a year with a $500,000 buyout. Over the span of two years, Leavitt has improved the Ducks' 126th ranked defense in 2016 to 67th in 2018 in the nation. 

In the video above, I break down the likelihood that a change is made at Oregon.

Hint - It's likely. 

Oregon basketball coach Dana Altman has out-clutched Duke's Coach K

Oregon basketball coach Dana Altman has out-clutched Duke's Coach K

Oregon men’s basketball coach Dana Altman has already reached milestones galore and is nearing Oregon history, but according to analytics, he is also one of the most clutch coaches in the nation in close games.

In games decided by less than 5 points, Altman has the tenth highest winning percentage in the nation during the KenPom Era. Also impressive, he’s coached 20 more close games than any other coach with a top 10 winning percentage.

As you can see, via this graph from Jordan SperberAltman’s name is on the top right corner, indicating his high winning percentage and his high volume of games decided by five points of fewer.

He is among an exclusive group of some of the best coaches in college basketball; Andy Toole, Bill Self, Jim Boeheim, Mark Few, Brad Stevens, Pat Flannery, Ed Cooley, Steve Fisher and Kelvin Sampson.

Notably, Altman tops Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, who has the most career wins by any active coach, and nears the middle of number of close games and winning percentage.

The 2013 National Coach of the Year and three-time Pac-12 Coach of the Year entered the 2018-19 season just 25 wins shy of becoming the winningest head coach in Oregon history. Currently, the Ducks are 5-3 in conference play, edging Altman closer and closer to surpassing Ernie Kent's 235 program leading wins (1997-2010). 

Will he get that crown during the 2018-19 season? It’s completely possible, as Oregon averages 26 season wins under Altman.

However, Altman will likely add to that already high volume of close games to get there. Oregon’s inexperience will be an obstacle; the young Ducks average 1.37 years of experience, which is 279th in the country.

Preseason, the Ducks were picked as favorites to win the Pac-12 Conference and ranked No. 14 in the country. After losses to No. 14 Houston, Iowa and Texas Southern, Oregon is no longer ranked in the Top 25.

Altman has his work cut out for him; developing his young and offensive-minded team won’t be easy. He has stressed the importance that Oregon improves on rebounding, defensive intensity and physicality. If he can lead Oregon’s arguably most talented team ever to success, he will top the record books. And if he wins in close games, he will continue to rise among the greats.


Side note, a few of Altman’s success and honors that might blow your mind a little:

  • 34th head coach to record 600 career wins at the Division I level.
  • In 2016-17, Altman led Oregon back to the Final Four for the first time in 78 years.
  • Has won more games (215) in his first eight seasons than any coach in Oregon history. 
  • One of only six active coaches in NCAA Division I with 20 consecutive winning seasons.

Minor, almost mockable: NCAA serves penalties for Oregon Ducks' violations

Minor, almost mockable: NCAA serves penalties for Oregon Ducks' violations

On Wednesday, the NCAA announced Oregon committed violations in men’s and women’s basketball, women’s track and field and football.

The violations and the penalties are very minor…. Almost mockable, considering the level of corruption that exists around the nation in NCAA college sports.

The stiffest penalty? NCAA put Oregon Athletics on two years probation from Dec. 5, 2018, to Dec. 4, 2020. A team already on probation for violations can get substantially worse penalties for similar infractions. Probation can have a negative impact on recruiting and could make the federal NCAA basketball corruption case, that Oregon was mentioned in, more interesting. 

To summarize, Oregon committed violations by having basketball staff show up at practices and voluntary workouts when they weren’t allowed, a professor who allowed a track and field athlete to submit coursework after the course had ended (which he said he would do for any student, regardless of athlete status), and a football electronic presentation that included each prospect’s name, statistics and a high school highlight video displayed in the football equipment area.

Relatively tame infractions that were mostly self-reported. What’s next? The Oregon Golf team penalized for having too many golf tees per bag? I kid, but if you are a worried Duck fan… Don’t be. 

Here are the violations and penalties:

Women’s basketball

The NCAA ruled that coach Kelly Graves failed to monitor his program and failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance by allowing an assistant strength and conditioning coach to participate in on-court activities.

Graves will serve a two-game suspension this season and must reduce the number of countable coaches by one at regular practice for 10 hours during the 2018-19 season (self-imposed by the university). Also, the school must pay a $5,000 fine plus one percent of the women’s basketball budgets.

Men’s Basketball

The NCAA ruled that the director of basketball operations participated in and observed voluntary workouts, which is a violation. 

As a penalty, that individual received a two-year show-cause order from the NCAA. The men’s basketball program must reduce the number of countable coaches by one at regular practice for 5 hours during the 2018-19 season (self-imposed by the university). Also, the school must pay a fine of one percent of the program’s budget.

Track and Field

The NCAA found an adjunct instructor changed a course grade for a women’s track and field student-athlete, which allowed her to maintain her eligibility and earn her degree.

The professor stated this was due to the system not allowing him to give the athlete an incomplete, with the grade coming following the submission of said coursework.

Oregon's senior vice provost for academic affairs said the athlete did not violate the school's misconduct policy, and the professor said he would have made the same accommodation for any student regardless of athlete status. 

Oregon must vacate all records compiled while the athlete was ineligible.

Oregon Football

Lastly, the NCAA ruled the football program gained a recruiting advantage when it impermissibly displayed personalized statistics of visiting recruits during unofficial and official visits on a new electronic reader board in the football facility.

Oregon athletics self reported the violations above. All in all, not much to worry about, Duck fans… Except maybe those golf tees (kidding!).

Oregon football slighted on All-Pac-12 Conference Team

Oregon football slighted on All-Pac-12 Conference Team

Oregon senior defensive lineman Jalen Jelks and junior all-purpose/special team player Brenden Schooler have been named first-team All-Pac-12 Conference. Nine other Ducks earned either second-team or honorable mention honors. Pac-12 head coaches vote on the teams.   

There are four slights I’d like to bring your attention to.

1. Quarterback Justin Herbert, a projected first round NFL draft pick, is NOT one of the 11 Oregon players that made the cut.

The junior completed 59.6 percent of his passes during the regular season for 2,985 yards with 28 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He has a touchdown pass in 28 consecutive games, the longest streak in the nation, and his 28 touchdown passes on the year are tied for the 10th most in the country.

Yet, he wasn’t considered one of the best three quarterbacks in the conference.

The All Pac-12 team features Washington State’s Gardner Minshew as first team quarterback, Stanford’s KJ Costello on second team and honorable mention went to Washington’s Jake Browning.

2. Calvin Throckmorton, the versatile offensive lineman that ranks as the third best tackle in the country and best in Pac-12 conference, according to Pro Football Focus, was an honorable mention selection.

In 2,232 snaps and 30 games, the junior has allowed just one sack. This season, he has played four positions (right tackle, left tackle, left guard and center) to help lead the UO offense to finishing second in the conference in points, second in rushing and fourth in passing.

3. Dillon Mitchell, who leads the Pac-12 with 69 receptions for 1,114 yards and nine touchdowns, was selected to the second team.

The 6-foot-2, 189-pound junior had one of the best seasons a Duck receiver has ever had. He leads all FBS players with six 100-yard receiving games in conference play. Roughly 40 percent of Herbert’s 175 completions in Pac-12 play have been to Mitchell.

Mitchell is 27 receiving yards, nine receptions and three touchdowns away from breaking UO single-season records for each category.

Arizona State’s N’Keal Harry and Colorado’s Laviska Shenault were the first-team wide receivers.

4. Ugo Amadi made it known he felt robbed after being named honorable mention. Amadi, a senior, was one of two FBS players with an interception return touchdown and a punt return touchdown this season.

Amadi led the conference with eight interceptions, averaged 16.5 yards over his 13 punt returns, and earned Pac-12 player of the week for special teams and defense.

Apparently, UO coach Mario Cristobal’s peers didn’t think too highly of the 2018 Oregon football team. Here is the full 2018 All-Pac-12 Conference Football Team.