Oregon Ducks

Source: Oregon to name Willie Taggart new head football coach

Source: Oregon to name Willie Taggart new head football coach

South Florida's Willie Taggart will become Oregon's new head football coach, a source has confirmed, ending a week-long search to replace Mark Helfrich.

ESPN's Brett McMurphy first reported the news

Taggart, 40, is expected to be officially announced today.
Taggart has a 40-45 record with stints at Western Kentucky (16-20) and South Florida (20-25). But don't let his record fool you. Taggart rebuilt both programs, elevating Western Kentucky from 2-10 his first year in 2010 to 7-5 over the next two seasons. He then moved on to South Florida where he went 2-10, 4-8, 8-4 and then 10-2 this season.

Taggart, who served as Stanford's running backs coach under Jim Harbaugh from 2007-2009, is a risky hire with potentially great upside. Oregon sought to replace Helfrich (37-16 over four seasons) with a more experienced coach from a Power Five conference, but efforts fell through. 

[WATCH: Facebook Live reaction to the hiring]

Helfrich guided the Ducks to the national title game during the 2014 season, but this year saw his program fall to 4-8, resulting in his dismissal on Nov. 29. 

Taggart's South Florida offense this season ranks 10th in the nation (515 yards per game) and seventh in scoring (43.6). But his team ranks 120th in total defense (482.1 yards per game) and 86th in scoring defense (31.0).

Taggart played quarterback at Western Kentucky from 1995 through 1998. He was a finalist for the Division I-AA Walter Payton award his final two seasons. 

Best and Worst from Oregon's victory over San Jose State

Best and Worst from Oregon's victory over San Jose State

Yes, No. 20 Oregon remains undefeated heading into Pac-12 conference play with it’s 35-22 victory over San Jose State (0-3). Did the good outweigh the bad in the closer-than-expected victory? You be the judge.

THE BEST

Hey, a win is a win: The victory extended Oregon’s home non-conference win streak to 23 games.
 The Ducks have won 23 of last 25 games as a ranked team at home
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Oregon’s run defense: Oregon held the Spartans to 29 rushing yards on 28 carries. The Ducks are holding opponents to 2.2 yards per carry over last five games.

Don’t mess with Justin Hollins: The outside linebacker recorded a team-high eight tackles, one sack, two tackles for loss, one forced fumble and one interception. He has a tackle for loss in seven straight games and a sack in all three games this season.

Ugo Amadi is everywhere: The senior safety provided a spark on special teams, returning three punts for 100 yards, including one 57-yard return that was just short of a touchdown. On defense he finished with a team-high eight tackles and two pass break-ups. 

Jevon Holland, remember the name: The freshman safety recorded his first career interception with a first quarter pick.

Red zone warrior, Cyrus Habibi-Likio: When the Ducks need a running back to punch in a touchdown, they look to the freshman. Habibi-Likio scored twice against San Jose State and has four touchdowns on five carries this season.

Limited injuries: Right guard Dallas Warmack and left tackle Penei Sewell both suffered ankle injuries on Saturday but coach Mario Cristobal said the were full-go Sunday in practice and 100 percent healthy. Brenden Schooler (concussion protocol) will be evaluated today. Kicker Adam Stick, who has missed the first three games, is expected to return for Stanford.

 

THE WORST

Justin Herbert’s uncharacteristic performance: Herbert was intercepted twice by the nation’s second worst pass defense in San Jose State. He seemed uncomfortable in the pocket, forcing too-tight throws and underthrowing receivers. The tight score kept Herbert in the game until the final minutes, when freshman Tyler Shough took his place.

Braxton Burmeister injured: The backup quarterback was on the sideline with crutches after undergoing a minor procedure on his knee. Cristobal expects him to return in two weeks.

Running back uncertainty: Oregon’s six scholarship running backs got playing time on Saturday but only rushed for an average carry of 2.7 yards, totaling 134 rushing yards. Cristobal says the staff is going to make the running back position very competitive this week for carries. While Tony Brooks-James is the starter, the rest of the rotation will depend on this week’s practices.

 

What's next? No. 20 Oregon vs. No. 7 Stanford. Better get your signs ready, because ESPN's college game day is headed to Eugene

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Oregon football holds steady at No. 20 in AP Poll

Oregon football holds steady at No. 20 in AP Poll

The Ducks (3-0) remain steady at No. 20 in the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll after escaping non-conference play undefeated. 

Oregon's 33-22 victory over San Jose State extended its streak of consecutive non-conference home wins to 24. The closer-than-expected win left the Ducks unsatisfied and was marked with inconsistent offensive play and an uncharacteristic performance from quarterback Justin Herbert.

UO opens Pac-12 play against No. 7 Stanford next Saturday in Autzen Stadium at 5 p.m. Get your signs ready... College Game Day returns to Eugene for the game

Is Oregon ready for Stanford?

"I think it’s time to go find out," said coach Mario Cristobal.

The only other Pac-12 team in the AP Top 25 is No. 10 Washington. USC dropped out after losing to Texas. 

Some highlights around the nation: Oregon State's former defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake and BYU upset No. 6 Wisconsin. Washington shut down Utah in 21-7 victory. Texas beat formerly ranked No. 22 USC 37-14 to give second-year coach Tom Herman his biggest win in burnt orange. 

More Ducks:

Oregon Ducks fly into conference play on the back of their defense

GameDay headed to Eugene for Stanford vs. Oregon

Oregon Quarterback Justin Herbert is seeing Redd

Oregon football most valuable program in Pac-12 conference

Official: 4-star WR Jalen Hall off Oregon football team

Marcus Mariota did not start today for Tennessee

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USA Today

Marcus Mariota did not start today for Tennessee

Former Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota did not start for Tennessee in today's game against Houston, despite reports all week that he would likely return from injuring his elbow last week at Miami. 

Mariota, according to reports, still can't properly grip the football in his right hand. 

Mariota injured his right elbow when Miami defensive end William Hayes hit him while the Titans' quarterback carried out a fake after handing off the ball to a running back. After the game, Mariota said that his hand felt numb from the injury.

Mariota completed 9 of 16 passes for 103 yards and two interceptions, both following the injury, during the 27-24 loss at the Dolphins (1-0). 

Blaine Gabbart started in place of Mariota. 

Oregon Ducks fly into conference play on the back of their defense

Oregon Ducks fly into conference play on the back of their defense

No. 20 Oregon remains undefeated heading into Pac-12 conference play with a 35-22 victory over San Jose State (0-3), but the 3-0 Ducks aren't satisfied. 

The closer-than-expected win was marked with inconsistent offensive play and an uncharacteristic performance from quarterback Justin Herbert.

Herbert was intercepted twice by the nation’s second-worst pass defense in San Jose State. He seemed uncomfortable in the pocket while forcing too-tight throws and underthrowing receivers, like Dillon Mitchell on the first play of the game.

"Today we played some inconsistent football," coach Mario Cristobal said.

When asked about Herbert’s performance Crisotbal said, “I’m not disappointed with his play at all. I know he is very critical of himself, and that’s okay. We want our players to have high standards for themselves.”

He finished the game 16-of-34 for 309 passing yards and three touchdowns. 300 passing yards might seem like a good statistic but consider this: In SJSU’s first two games, UC Davis quarterback Jake Meier and Washington State quarterback Gardner Minshew each finished with over 425 passing yards.

The tight score kept Herbert in the game until the final minutes, when freshman Tyler Shough took his place. Backup quarterback Braxton Burmeister was on the sideline with crutches after undergoing a minor procedure on his knee. Cristobal expects him to return in two weeks.

[READ: Oregon football most valuable program in Pac-12 conference]

It wasn’t all bad for Herbert and the Oregon offense. The Ducks splashed in some explosive plays that sent the 50,049 fans in Autzen into a frenzy.

A wide-open Jacob Breeland took a pass a career high 66-yards to the end zone for his first touchdown of the season.

Herbert also completed a 23-yard touchdown pass to CJ Verdell, who led Oregon today in rushing (42) and receiving yards (85), totaling 127 all-purpose yards.

Tony Brooks-James took a kickoff return 95 yards to the house, but it was negated by a costly holding penalty. The Ducks committed six penalties for 59 yards, which is still less than last season’s average of nine penalties a game.

But the real bright spot was the Duck run defense. Oregon held the Spartans to 29 rushing yards on 28 carries. So far this season, the Ducks have held opponents to 2.2 yards per carry.

Oregon also had 11 pass breakups and two interceptions, including freshman Jevon Holland’s first career pick.

Senior Ugo Amadi was seemingly everywhere, finishing with a team-high eight tackles and two pass break-ups. He also provided a spark on special teams, returning three punts for 100 yards, including one 57-yard return that was just short of a touchdown.

“(Amadi) was making more plays in the backfield than I was, “ said outside linebacker Justin Hollins. “To have a defensive back like that is tremendous.”

Hollins could have been the MVP of the game. Hollins had a team-high eight tackles, one sack, two tackles for loss, one forced fumble and one interception. He has a tackle for loss in seven straight games and a sack in all three games this season.

“Justin Hollins is always wreaking havoc off the edge, always in the quarterback’s face and applying pressure,” said linebacker Troy Dye. “He finally got a pick, he kind of bobbled it, if he would have dropped it I would have got on him.”

Oregon’s run defense is peaking at the right time, with No. 9 Stanford and running back Bryce Love headed to Eugene to open conference play next Saturday. All eyes will be on the Ducks, as ESPN’s college game day visiting for the prime time 5 p.m. game.

Is Oregon ready for Stanford?

"I think it’s time to go find out," said Cristobal.

 

GameDay headed to Eugene for Stanford vs. Oregon

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USA Today Img.

GameDay headed to Eugene for Stanford vs. Oregon

It is official. The long wait is over Oregon fans. College GameDay is headed back to Eugene. 

Stanford vs. Oregon. No. 9 vs. No. 20. Bryce Love vs. Justin Herbert. These two teams are on a collision course for the big stage and GameDay said yes. 

"It will be a really cool experience," says Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert who is a Eugene-native and grew up watching College GameDay come through Eugene as a frequent stop. GameDay has been to Eugene a total of nine times, with six straight years over the course of 2009-2014.

 

Game Information:

Stanford at Oregon; Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon; kickoff 5 PM (PT); Saturday, September 22nd, 2018.

 

 

Kenjon Barner reunites with former Oregon mentor in New England

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USA Today

Kenjon Barner reunites with former Oregon mentor in New England

Former Oregon running back Kenjon Barner last suited up for a NFL game that mattered as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles when they defeated New England in Super Bowl LII. 

Fast forward seven months later and Barner finds himself in the lair of his former enemy as a new member of the Patriots, who signed him this week to help the team solve its running back depth issues.

There, he discovered a familiar face in former Oregon safety Patrick Chung, who was a senior in 2008 when Barner redshirted with the Ducks. 

“He’s taken me under his wing again, like he did my freshman year,” Barner told reporters.

Barner became available after Carolina - the team that drafted him in the sixth round in 2013 - released him during roster cuts following the preseason. He had signed with the Panthers after leaving the Eagles as a free agent. Now Barner must learn a third offensive system in less than a year and do so in a few days in case he is called upon to play Sunday at Jacksonville (1-0). 

“It’s a lot to learn, a lot to take in, but I’ve had a lot of help to get to where I’m at...," Barner said. "Still things to learn, obviously, in such a short window of time, but I’m definitely feeling comfortable with the things I do know.”

New England (1-0) was dealt a blow when running back Jeremy Hill was lost for the season with a knee injury during the team's win Sunday over Houston. Hill's misfortune created an opportunity for Barner, who also returns punts. 

There is a chance Barner won't be activated on Sunday. There is also a chance he could play, and play a lot.  One thing for sure is that Barner said he can definitely feel the Patriots differ from other NFL teams he has played for, but not different from his playing days at Oregon.   

"The way they do things around here is a lot different [from NFL teams], but not for me," Barner said. "It reminds me of college. There’s no time wasted. Everything is efficient. The attention to detail here is something I’ve never experienced.”

Oregon Mailbag: Herbert's insane stats and what's going on with Taj Griffin?

Oregon Mailbag: Herbert's insane stats and what's going on with Taj Griffin?

Each week I will answer five of your best questions from Twitter or Instagram.

Who is Oregon's hype man this season? Will the Ducks put up 50 points on Saturday? What's going on with Taj Griffin? Which Duck is the best interview? Is there a weak link on the offensive line? 

Question from NBC Sports Northwest on Twitter: Does the Oregon football energy feel different this season? What differences have you noticed at practices and games? 

Answer: I have noticed a more controlled, disciplined excitement under Mario Cristobal. Cristobal puts major emphasis on details and schedule, which is a major change from last season under Willie Taggart.

The game day energy is different this season. Oregon’s strength and conditioning coach Aaron Feld is the Ducks’ hype man. He stands at the end of the tunnel and pumps up every player that walks on the field with his electric enthusiasm.
This team doesn’t “win the day” and it doesn’t swag surf. I don’t think this team has found its identity yet, but it will (which is fine, we are only two games into the season).

Question from Corey on Twitter: What is your over/under on the Ducks putting up 50+ points on the board against San Jose State?

Answer: San Jose State is near the bottom of the FBS level statistically in a number of defensive categories, so it’s very likely that Oregon scores over 50 points. I expect Justin Herbert to throw up insane passing numbers.

San Jose State ranks second to last nationally defending the pass. In SJSU’s first two games, UC Davis quarterback Jake Meier and Washington State quarterback Gardner Minshew each finished with over 400 passing yards.

Question from Jere on Twitter: Which player on the current roster is the most fun to interview?

Answer: There are a lot of Ducks with good personalities on this team. Senior running back Tony Brooks-James is a great interview because I’ve interviewed him for five years and we’ve built a fun rapport. He can be silly and serious when he needs to be.

Linebacker La’Mar Winston Jr. has a lot to say and great stories to tell. On Oregon’s media day he told me about eating Duck for the first time while he studied art abroad in Paris this summer.

Question from Chip on Twitter: I am curious why Taj Griffin has not been more involved in the offense?

Answer: Taj Griffin has a very specific set of skills that Cristobal has planned on utilizing in UO’s offense. The speedy senior shines brightest in space, like when he took a screen pass from Herbert 83 yards to the end zone in Oregon’s opener. Expect him to be involved in the offense by contributing at running back and receiver, as he has worked on his blocking skills to stay in the backfield on more downs.

“We all know what Taj can do when he has some space," Cristobal said. 

Question from Jon on Twitter: Which player on the offensive line do you figure will be the most pivotal over the course of the season? 

Answer: Penei Sewell, the first true freshman offensive lineman to start the season opener since 1997 (last true freshman to start a game on the offensive line was right tackle Tyrell Crosby in 2014).

Sewell is protecting Herbert’s blind side at left tackle and, so far, has exceeded expectations and gained the trust and praise of his teammates. Will his inexperience play a factor as the Ducks play better opponents? We will see, but so far so good.

More Ducks:

The Ducks aren't looking past San Jose State to Stanford, but I am

Oregon Quarterback Justin Herbert is seeing Redd

Oregon football most valuable program in Pac-12 conference

Official: 4-star WR Jalen Hall off Oregon football team

Oregon Ducks quarterback Justin Herbert doesn't play favorites

The best and worst from Oregon's domination over Portland State

Oregon football rises to No. 20 the AP Poll

Oregon Quarterback Justin Herbert is seeing Redd

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Ashley Young

Oregon Quarterback Justin Herbert is seeing Redd

When Oregon sophomore wide receiver Jaylon Redd catches a pass, 60 percent of the time this season he has also found the end zone.

Three touchdowns, five catches; that’s an insane catch to touchdown rate. Some may say it’s an unsustainable rate, but in his career at Oregon, Redd and quarterback Justin Herbert have connected eight times, four of which were touchdowns.

The obvious chemistry between the two Ducks stems from Redd gaining Herbert’s trust during Oregon’s fall camp. In UO’s scrimmages, Redd made sure that Herbert could always find him on third down and then get the yardage needed to convert the first down. 

"There has to be someone (Herbert) goes to when he knows we need a play,” Redd said. “I got no problem being that man.”

From scrimmages to games, Redd has proved that Herbert can count on him. The first Oregon (2-0) touchdown of the season is the perfect example. Bowling Green led Oregon in the first quarter, 10-0, it was fourth down and 14, and Herbert found Redd on a 33-yard dime in the back of the end zone. 

[READ: Oregon Ducks quarterback Justin Herbert doesn't play favorites]

Junior left guard Shane Lemieux also noticed a difference in the receiver during Oregon’s fall camp.

“I really never saw any dropped balls (from Redd),” Lemieux said. “He really took it upon himself to catch every single ball that was thrown to him. It didn’t matter if it was a good or bad throw.”

Lemieux added that Redd is a leader on the offense that often gathers the team if they need to make adjustments or get on the same page. He also predicted that Redd will be All-Pac-12 and the conference’s leading receiver this season.

Redd entered his sophomore year with what he calls a “business mindset.”

“I felt like I had a lot to prove,” Redd said. “There was a lot of guys coming in and I felt that I didn’t have a stable situation coming into this year.”

Co-defensive coordinator/safeties coach Keith Heyward offered Redd, thinking he would play defensive back for the Ducks.

“I wish he could play some defensive back for us but he’s doing a great job on the offensive side of the ball,” said Heyward. “He is giving the offense that speed in the slot. Catching the ball, fly sweep, however they may use him.”

He’s listed as 5-foot-8, 178-pounds, but his smaller stature doesn’t stop him from getting physical. His blocking ability has impressed his coaches and teammates.

“He’s a hard worker,” junior wide receiver Brenden Schooler said. “He’s going to go 100 percent on every play and he’s not afraid to stick his nose in there and block somebody.”

There is no doubt Redd is a playmaker, so get used to hearing his name, especially on third down.

 

More Ducks:

The Ducks aren't looking past San Jose State to Stanford, but I am

Oregon football most valuable program in Pac-12 conference

Official: 4-star WR Jalen Hall off Oregon football team

Oregon Ducks quarterback Justin Herbert doesn't play favorites

The best and worst from Oregon's domination over Portland State

Oregon football rises to No. 20 the AP Poll

What They're Saying: San Jose potential upset vs. Oregon?

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NBCSNW

What They're Saying: San Jose potential upset vs. Oregon?

While the term cupcake is being thrown out there, the No. 20 Oregon Ducks are focused on the upcoming San Jose Spartans to round out non-conference play this Saturday at Autzen Stadium. But let's take a look at the flip side as to what the Spartan program is saying coming into Eugene this weekend.

You can read the full article HERE.

SJSU coach Brent Brennan says: "We’re going to try and get our team not to look at the entirety of it,” Brennan said. “Just play this play and take a deep breath. If something good happens, play the next play. If something bad happens, play the next play. That’s a challenge with our football team in general, but especially for young players who haven’t been in a lot of major college football games.”

The Ducks' young secondary will be tested once again by San Jose's tight end play through senior Josh Oliver. For the second consecutive week, Oliver is the leading pass receiver among Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) tight ends. After two games, Oliver is averaging 6.5 receptions a game and has 13 catches for the season. Article can be read HERE.

Despite the 31-0 shutout at Washington State last weekend, the Spartans are looking to start quicker, not overthink it, and use their advantages. 

 

Game information: 

No. 20 Oregon vs. San Jose State, kickoff at 2 PM (PT) this Saturday at Autzen Stadium.