Oregon Ducks

Shining personalities, injury updates and first Oregon football fall camp impressions

Shining personalities, injury updates and first Oregon football fall camp impressions

EUGENE- After the first practice of Oregon’s 2019 fall football camp, coach Mario Cristobal oozed preparation and organization. When meeting with the media, the second-year head coach literally brought out a paper list of freshmen capable of making an instant impact this season.

Tremendous organization and infusion of new talent are just two parts of the equation that is adding up to an optimistic outlook for the 2019 season. The Ducks are trying to make the most of Heisman hopeful quarterback Justin Herbert’s final year. UO returns a combined 17 positional starters, a veteran offensive line, running back weapons CJ Verdell and Travis Dye, deep competition at receiver and a defense led by projected first round NFL draft pick linebacker Troy Dye.


It should come as no surprise that the first thing Cristobal stated he is looking for during fall camp is “physicality.”

He liked what he saw. The Ducks practiced so aggressively in helmets, without pads, that the coaching staff had to tell some players to tone it down a little.

"Certainly they’ve been eager for this day to come. The day has arrived, and they got after it,” Cristobal said.

UO is facing an especially important fall camp due to a pivotal and polarizing week one showdown against Auburn. The desire is to have competition at every position and build depth. Oregon is putting major emphasis on improving explosiveness at the lines of scrimmage and the run game to lead the Pac-12 in rushing yards.


Typically, fall camp is not a time to focus on one specific team. However, with the lofty implications of Oregon’s week one SEC battle, Cristobal addressed if that philosophy will shift.

About 10 days before Oregon’s polarizing matchup against Auburn on August 31, the Ducks will shift focus entirely to game planning for the Tigers.

"We all know it’s an incredible opportunity,” Cristobal said. “But we also know you can’t skip step one, two and three, which is camp. After that we’ll get dialed in on our first opponent."


Two of my favorite personalities at Oregon media day were surprises: freshmen Patrick Herbert and Kayvon Thibodeaux.

Tight end Herbert physically resembles his older brother Justin in a double-take type way. Patrick plays with his long locks similarly to how his brother did when he garned the “Hairbert” nickname as a junior. Patrick is gifted with the same calm presence that Justin evokes and answers questions without hesitation in a precise manner- he doesn’t waste words. He made eye contact and politely thanked me for the interview.

He is already making his own name as a Duck and getting in the mix to contribute this season. Herbert’s listed weight increased 25 pounds from 220 to 245. The lone in-state prospect in 2019, four-star Herbert’s strength is catching the ball in traffic.
“Well, he (Justin) is lucky he's a senior because he'd be in the shadow (of Patrick)," Cristobal said.

Patrick has humble confidence and lights up when he talks about his family and Justin. When the brothers were a senior and freshman at Sheldon High School in Eugene, Patrick loved catching passes from Justin and called it a “highlight of his high school and football career." He continued to say it’d “mean the world” to connect in Autzen Stadium.  

Thibodeaux also opened up on emotions he expects to feel as he runs out to his first college football game in and Oregon Duck uniform. ESPN's No. 1 recruit in the 2019 class may shed a tear or two.

The 6-foot-5, 240 pound elite pass rusher is sporting a beard because he made a bet with a friend to see who could grow it out a longer.

The true freshman’s goal is to have 10 sacks every season. Justin Hollins led UO last season with 6.5 sacks. Thibodeaux is poised to lead Oregon this season: he enrolled early, quickly adjusted to college pace and has displayed an array of pass-rushing moves that indicate he will be a high-impact player right away.

While 10 sacks is his personal goal, Thibodeaux says he would trade it for one sack and nine wins.


Oregon opened fall camp at almost complete health and with virtually full participation. The short injury list is an ideal situation for Oregon.

The only player out was walk-on receiver Justin Collins.

Junior tight end Cam McCormick (minor ankle injury) and offensive lineman Sam Poutasi (rehabbing ACL) were limited but plan to be back to action in a few days. Cornerback Haki Woods Jr., who was given a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA, has recovered from an ankle sprain in the summer.


Letting catchable balls hit the turf was one of the main problems for Oregon’s offense, registering 52 dropped passes last season. Stay tuned for an update on how Oregon has improved their drop problem and which young Ducks are impressing veterans.

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

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

There wasn’t a dry eye on the court. No. 4 Oregon and No. 7 Oregon State met at half court ahead of a 1 p.m. (PT) tip-off at Gill Coliseum.

The huddle was to pray. To pray as one for Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianni Maria, who had passed in a helicopter roughly an hour before tip-off.

For the man who had a signature move that most tried to copy off and on the court, stepping back and yelling “Kobe!”, today the world mourns and celebrates you and your daughter Gianni Maria.

There was one player who was not on the court for warm ups: Sabrina Ionescu. Surrounded by head coach Kelly Graves, associate coach Mark Campbell, her family, senior associate athletic director Lisa Peterson and senior guard Minyon Moore, Ionescu tried to collect herself.

Sabrina and Kobe have struck a connection and real friendship these past fews years. Kobe attended Oregon’s games when the Ducks were in Southern California to play USC; he came up to Long Beach State on December 14, 2019; he has critiqued Sabrina’s game on his show ‘Detail’ and has supported women’s sports and women’s basketball.

In her letter to The Players Tribune back on April 6, 2019, when Sabrina announced she would forgo the WNBA Draft and return to Oregon for her senior season, Ionescu wrote about Kobe:

"And as I kept watching that video over and over, again and again — there’s two main thoughts that were going through my head. One: Kobe got me. He just nailed my game, dead to rights. He was analyzing my pick-and-roll, pointing out specific plays where I should have finished with my left hand instead of my right….. the whole deal. Every analysis was so spot on. It was like seeing genius at work."

This one hit a little deeper for Ionescu.

She paid tribute to Mamba and his daughter with “Forever 24” written on her shoes today.

It was difficult. Sabrina never did go out and warm up. It was touch and go. I know her family was there trying to help her through it. It’s like losing a family member. And I know every body is touched in some way or inspired by Kobe Bryant but it really hit home to this team. — head coach Kelly Graves

Ionescu trotted out with the Ducks with 12 minutes and 34 seconds until tip-off.

There was a moment of silence for Kobe before the national anthem. In front of a sold out crowd at Gill Coliseum, some were hearing the news for the first time. The only thing you could hear in the entire arena was the soft hum of the air conditioning unit. 

Sitting two rows behind the Oregon bench, sporting a #20 Nike green Ionescu jersey, was Sabrina’s father. In an interview before the game with ESPN, he told reporters the advice he gave to Sabrina:

Of all the times you worked with him, of all the phone calls. You deserve to play for him and his legacy. Go out and do it today. Go out and play for Kobe. — Ionescu’s father.

And she did. And the Ducks did.

For the first time in the Kelly Graves and Sabrina Ionescu era at Oregon, the Ducks have won in Corvallis over the Oregon State Beavers. 

The trio of senior Sabrina Ionescu, senior Ruthy Hebard and junior Satou Sabally combined for 48 of Oregon 66 total points. It was a first half that needed every bit of these three. Ionescu finished with 19 points, eight rebounds and three assists. Hebard with another double-double of 13 points and 14 rebounds. And Sabally with 16 points, nine rebounds and four assists.

The Ducks found themselves down at halftime, 37-34 to the Beavers. Graves went with more of a defensive lineup in the third quarter: Jaz Shelley, Taylor Chavez, Sabrina Ionescu, Satou Sabally and Ruthy Hebard. With these five on the floor, Oregon held a 12-0 run and held the Beavers scoreless for seven minutes in the fourth quarter. Oregon finished the quarter holding Oregon State to only eight points on 3-of-12 from the field and 1-of-5 from three-point range.

A big part of the third quarter was Oregon State senior point guard Mikayla Pivec picking up her fourth personal foul. Pivec was a huge spark for the Beavers on both ends of the court, but picking up her fourth foul forced her to switch her game and play more cautiously.

This third quarter spark was enough to lift No. 4 Oregon (17-2, 7-1 Pac-12) past No. 7 Oregon State (16-4, 4-4 Pac-12) 66-57 in Gill Coliseum.

But the win is bittersweet on a day where a role model and friend had passed.

I’m proud of the team who stepped up for their sister Sabrina and helped her. — Graves

At some point, every one of her teammates came up and said to Sabrina, “We’re going to do this for you.”

When the game clock hit 00:00, the emotions flooded back in. A visibly sad Ionescu made her way through a two-question post game interview with ESPN before heading the locker room and eventually back to Eugene.

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

With a heavy heart and watery eyes, this season is for Mamba.

Instant Analysis: No. 4 Oregon breaks the Corvallis curse, defeats No. 7 Oregon State for Civil War sweep


Instant Analysis: No. 4 Oregon breaks the Corvallis curse, defeats No. 7 Oregon State for Civil War sweep

CORVALLIS - For the first time in the Kelly Graves, Sabrina Ionescu era at Oregon, the Ducks have won on the road in Corvallis. 

No. 4 Oregon (17-2, 7-1 Pac-12) completes the Civil War sweep over No. 7 Oregon State (16-4, 4-4 Pac-12) with a 66-57 win in front of a sold out crowd at Gill Coliseum.

Here are three quick takeaways from the game:


The Ducks found themselves down at halftime, 37-34 to the Beavers. But in the third quarter, Graves went with a defensive lineup: Jaz Shelley, Taylor Chavez, Sabrina Ionescu, Satou Sabally and Ruthy Hebard. With these five on the floor, Oregon held a 12-0 run and held the Beavers scoreless for seven minutes in the fourth quarter.


In her second season in an Oregon uniform, sophomore Taylor Chavez has stepped up big in these past few games. Whether it’s on the defensive end or stepping back for a three-pointer, she has proven to be quite the spark off the bench. Chavez currently leads the Pac-12 conference in three-point percentage (47.2%) and finished today with eight points going 2-for-2 from downtown.


The trio of seniors Ionescu, Ruthy Hebard and junior Satou Sabally combine for 48 points in the win.

Sabally was the And-1 queen. The 6-foot-4 junior forward kept Oregon in the game in the first half and recorded 13 points and five rebounds. She finished with 16 points, nine rebounds and four assists.

NEXT UP: Oregon hits the road for a weekend in the mountains first at Utah on Thursday night at 7 p.m. (PT)

Sabrina Ionescu honors Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna with “Forever 24” on her game shoes

Steve Tannen Twitter

Sabrina Ionescu honors Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna with “Forever 24” on her game shoes

A small gesture but one that sends a powerful message today. 

As Oregon senior guard Sabrina Ionescu took the court ahead of part two of this Civil War series with red eyes and puffy cheeks, there was a small message hand-written on her shoes: “Forever 24.”

Host of Crunchtime/SportsTalk on CBS radio Steve Tannen snapped the picture.

Sabrina and Kobe have met several times in person. He attended Oregon’s game at USC last season. He critiqued her game on his show ‘Detail.’ She wrote about it in her letter to Duck Nation via the Players Tribune. To have one of the best to ever play the game critique your own is of the utmost respect and honor.

As always in the stands was Sabrina’s father, sporting a #20 Nike green jersey sitting two rows behind the Oregon bench at Gill Coliseum.

Before the game, here are his words and advice to his daughter during this tough time:

Of all the times you worked with him, of all the phone calls. You deserve to play for him and his legacy. Go out and do it today. Go out and play for Kobe — Ionescu’s father.

We couldn’t agree more.

Ducks, Beavers meet at half court and pray for Kobe Bryant

Ducks, Beavers meet at half court and pray for Kobe Bryant

Today is a day where the color of your jersey doesn’t matter. It is a day where we all mourn together and come together as one during this difficult, loss-for-words time.

Ahead of the second chapter of this Civil War weekend series between the No. 4 Oregon Ducks and No. 7 Oregon State Beavers, the two teams met up at half court to pray for Kobe Bryant.

The former Los Angeles Laker and five-time NBA Champion Kobe Bryant died Sunday in a fatal helicopter crash in the Los Angeles area that killed four others, according to NBC News. 

The news was first reported by TMZ. 

A call for a downed helicopter in Calabasas went out at 10:01 a.m. local time, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. People who were out mountain biking in the area and reported the downed helicopter.

The news was first reported by TMZ.   

"Unfortunately there were no survivors," Los Angeles County Fire Captain Tony Imbrenda told reporters Sunday.

Kobe was 41. 

Justin Herbert pens emotional letter to Ducks fans

Justin Herbert pens emotional letter to Ducks fans

I'm not crying, you're crying!

As Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert moves on to the next chapter in his football career, the Eugene native is making sure to acknowledge everyone who got him to this point. 

Fresh off winning the Senior Bowl MVP, Herbert authored a letter in the Eugene Register Guard, the city's local newspaper. 

Here is a portion of the letter

Watching the Ducks play every home game from Section 12, barely a mile away from our home, are cherished childhood memories. My brothers and I would replay those games in our front yard, pretending to be Joey Harrington, Kellen Clemens and other Oregon greats. Receiving a scholarship to play at the University of Oregon was the fulfillment of a childhood dream.

Both a Pac-12 championship and Rose Bowl victory have provided us seniors with a fairytale ending to our careers at Oregon. Losses, injuries and coaching changes were challenges that many of us weren’t expecting when we first arrived on campus. I believe that these tough times brought our team together and changed the culture within our program.

As I move on from an incredible experience at the University of Oregon, I wanted to thank all the Duck fans and the Eugene community for your support of a hometown kid.

Herbert goes on to thank all of his coaches, past and present, as well as the four years of teammates he shared the locker room with. 

"Last, but certainly not least, I want to thank my family. Your love and support have made me the man I am today, and I am so thankful to have had my family with me all the way. The highlight of my career was getting to share each Saturday with you."

The Sheldon High School graduate went on to pass for 10,541 yards and 95 touchdowns as Oregon's quarterback. He added 13 more rushing touchdowns and capped off his senior season as a Pac-12 and Rose Bowl Champion and was the Rose Bowl MVP. 

And he did it all in front of his hometown crowd and his family.

"Eugene has always been, and will forever remain, my home. Go Ducks!!"

You can read the whole article here.

What to expect in Part II of the Civil War

What to expect in Part II of the Civil War

Less than 48 hours later, here we are again. After taking round one of the Civil War weekend series, No. 4 Oregon and No. 7 Oregon State meet again but this time 45 minutes north up I-5 in Corvallis, Oregon.

After taking round one on Friday night 76-64 over the Beavers, the Ducks will now have the opportunity to not only go home with a Civil War series sweep, but also for the first time win in Corvallis during the Kelly Graves, Sabrina Ionescu era. The last time Oregon won in Corvallis dates back to the 2009-10 season.

On the other hand, the Beavers have the opportunity to continue their win-streak against the Ducks at home where Oregon State is 11-1 at Gill Coliseum this season.

Here are keys to the game for both Oregon and Oregon State in part two of the Civil War:


The Ducks’ largest lead on Friday night got as high as 21 points with 7:53 left in the game. A comfortable lead with a lot of senior leadership starting with seniors Sabrina Ionescu and Ruthy Hebard. Unfortunately, that comfortable feeling didn’t last long and Oregon State would make a valiant comeback before running out of time. 

The trio of Ionescu, Hebard and Satou Sabally combined for 57 or Oregon’s 76 total points. Taylor Chavez continues to provide a spark off the bench and added nine points off a perfect 3-for-3 from three-point range (Chavez is leading the Pac-12 conference in three-point shooting percentage at 47.2%). 

If the Ducks are to win for the first time since 2009-10, the keys are continuing to put on-ball pressure on Oregon State guards Destiny Slocum, Mikayla Pivec and Aleah Goodman while containing 6-foot-4 freshman Taylor Jones down low. Hebard had that defensive assignment on Friday night and will need to make life difficult in the paint.

We're not really happy splitting wins with them. We're going to have to take that next step, and be an elite team on the road. — Sabrina Ionescu


The freshman forwards stepped up big time vs. Oregon on Friday night. Taylor Jones dropped 21 points and 6-foot-6 Kennedy Brown added 12 rebounds. Brown has a nice outside shot so don’t expect her to record zero points in today’s meeting. 

This one will rely on the upperclassmen. Senior guard Mikayla Pivec was held to eight points and five rebounds, an uncharacteristic night on the boards for the Pac-12 leader in rebounds at 9.6 per game. Senior Kat Tudor, who got her first start since coming off an ACL injury, looked rusty. The sharp-shooter had zero points going 0-for-7 from the field and 0-for-6 from downtown.

Junior Aleah Goodman provided a spark off the bench recording 11 points, three assists and two steals.

The Beavers proved that no lead is ever safe and if they are to continue the home win-streak against the Ducks, they have to stick to their game, dominate the paint, hit those outside shots while trying to contain the nation’s best player in Ionescu.

And I look back to Oregon...three years ago in particular and even [Sabrina Ionescu and Ruthy Hebard's] freshman year, the Civil War weekend is where they changed. They had to elevate to play against us and they did and they learned a lot about themselves and took their games to a new level...and that created momentum for them. Well, I think we're having to rise because both of these teams are so good, the margin of error is small and we're competitors. — Oregon State head coach Scott Rueck

WHO: No. 4 Oregon at No. 7 Oregon State

WHERE: Gill Coliseum, Corvallis, Oregon

TIME: 1 p.m. (PT)


RADIO: Oregon Sports Network

Check out the Ducks retro green uniforms for Part II of the Civil War


Check out the Ducks retro green uniforms for Part II of the Civil War

The No. 4 Oregon Ducks (16-2, 6-1 Pac-12) defeated their rival No. 7 Oregon State (16-3, 4-3 Pac-12) 76-64 in front of a soldout crowd of 12,362 at Matthew Knight Arena Friday night to take Round 1 of the Civil War series. 

Now, for Round 2, Oregon is going to be rocking some fresh threads.

The new green alternate uniforms rock the vintage university logo from 1994-1998 on the shorts.

The women's team wore the white retro jerseys earlier in the month.

Now, it's time to break out the green!

And people on social media are ready to shell out some coin for these new uniforms. 

Round 2 of the Civil War tips off at 1pm on Sunday.

Justin Herbert named MVP of the Senior Bowl

Justin Herbert named MVP of the Senior Bowl

After impressing all week for NFL coaches at the practices ahead of the Senior Bowl, Justin Herbert capped it off with a great showing in the game itself.

So good he was named the MVP of the event.

Herbert played only the first quarter completing 9-of-13 balls for 83 yards and a touchdown pass.

One of his incompletions wasn't even his fault.

He spoke after winning the award on what he wanted to show the NFL while in Mobile, Alabama.

I wanted to be myself. I wanted to come compete and I wanted to have fun. This is an opportunity I've said so many times that not a lot of people get to go through. I love the game of football and I love being here, it's been a blast.

The quarterback from Eugene, OR showed NFL coaches why he's such a coveted prospect ahead of the NFL Draft that will almost assuredly be selected in the first ten picks. His prototypical quarterback 6-foot-6 frame intrigues scouts, but his pinpoint accuracy and athleticism astounds them.

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

He also used the week to quiet concerns from scouts that he's not a great leader, but they could have just done that by talking to anyone in the Oregon program, including tight end Spencer Webb.

The play from this week impressed many, including Matt Miller of Bleacher Report.

Herbert's former offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach of three seasons was not surprised to see Herbert excelling after college. 


Who won the Senior Bowl? Justin Herbert...

Who won the Senior Bowl? Justin Herbert...

After finishing up his senior season as Pac-12 Champion and Rose Bowl MVP, it was time for Justin Herbert to prepare for the next step.

So far, he has been passing with flying colors.

As the Oregon QB goes through the draft process, the expected first-round selection will be scrutinized from every aspect. He is, afterall, playing the most important position on the field, which also happens to be the hardest position to scout. 

At the Reese's Senior Bowl, Herbert got the draft process off to an amazing start.

All week at practice, Herbet has impressed everyone watching; including Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan.

He’s very talented physically. He’s got prototypical size and athletic ability. He has a really, really strong arm. On top of that, he’s extremely intelligent and he’s very conscientious. He gathers information, he can process it and he can call it. He went under center for the first time, probably, in his career and he answered that bell with flying colors. Every day I continue to be impressed with the things we ask him to do and he answers really well.

The Bengals do own the first overall selection in the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft.

However, he wasn't the only one impressed by Herbert in practice. The former Oregon Duck was named the MVP of Senior Bowl practices.

But how did he play in the game? 

Quite well actually.

Herbert finished the first quarter with 83 yards on 9-of-13 passing and a touchdown.


It wasn't all great though. The Eugene native probably had flashbacks to his junior season with this drop. 

After his performance, anyone watching came away impressed by how Herbert looked. 

Duck alumn Geoff Schwartz has been on the Justin Herbert train for years and feels vindicated.

Next up, Justin Herbert will attend the NFL Combine that'll take place between February 23rd and March 2nd. It's unclear if he'll choose to throw or just have his measurables taken and take part in some drills.