Oregon Ducks

SOURCES: UO QB Justin Herbert breaks collarbone

SOURCES: UO QB Justin Herbert breaks collarbone

EUGENE - Oregon sophomore quarterback Justin Herbert suffered a broken collarbone while rushing for a touchdown in the first quarter of Saturday night's 45-24 win over California, according to multiple sources. 

The injury occured near the right-handed quarterback's left shoulder and according to a source is not considered to be season-ending. 

Herbert scored on a seven-yard run to give the Ducks (4-1) a 17-0 lead with 2:14 remaining in the first quarter.

Following the scoring play, trainers attended to Herbert's left shoulder on the sideline before he walked out of the stadium and toward the locker room. Broken collarbones can take from between four and eight weeks to heal depending on the severity of the break. If fractured, Herbert would probably be done for the season. If it's a hairline break, he could return in as little as a few weeks. He did not appear to be in serious pain following the injury and as he walked off the field.  

The injury occurred shortly after senior running back Royce Freeman headed to the locker room after it appeared that he injured himself also somewhere around the shoulder area. He also did not return to the game but his injury is said to not be that serious and he could return as soon as Saturday when the Ducks hosts No. 16 Washington State (5-0), which upset No. 5 USC on Friday night. 

Oregon coach Willie Taggart offered no details about his players' injuries during his postgame press conference. However, rumors began circulating immediately following the game that Herbert had indeed broken his collarbone. Several sources close to the team told CSN that they were hearing that Herbert had suffered a break. Official team sources confirmed the news later. 

Herbert finished the day 7 of 8 for 86 yards for one touchdown. 

Compounding the problem at quarterback is that redshirt senior backup Taylor Alie, who replaced Herbert, ended up leaving the game in the fourth carry after getting injured on a running play after he had completed 9 of 13 passes for 41 yards.

That led to Taggart going to freshman quarterback Braxton Brumeister to finish the game. He completed his lone pass attempt for four yards. 

Sources say that Alie's injury isn't serious. That's good news because if he were out the Ducks would be down two just Burmeister and walk-on freshman Mike Irwin out of Lakeridge High School. 

Oregon entered last spring with a very deep group of quarterbacks that included redshirt sophomore Travis Jonsen and redshirt freshman Terry Wilson Jr.  However, Wilson elected to transfer in April during spring drills and in the summer Jonsen left the team leaving Oregon with Herbert and Burmeister, who enrolled at Oregon early enough to participate in spring practices. 

The loss of Jonsen and Wilson forced Taggart to move Alie from wide receiver to quarterback. Alie went to Oregon as a quarterback and in 2015 appeared in games, along with Jeff Lockie, after starter Vernon Adams Jr. injured the index finger on his throwing hand.

In 2016, the Ducks moved Alie and Lockie to wide receiver and went with senior graduate transfer Dakota Prukop, Herbert, Wilson and Jonsen. Herbert took over the starting job week 6 against Washington and threw 19 touchdown passes the rest of the way.  

(more later). 

Dana Altman will unleash the freshmen soon

Dana Altman will unleash the freshmen soon

The No. 14 Oregon Ducks defeated the No. 13 Memphis Tigers at the inaugural Phil Knight Invitational 82-74 at Moda Center.

After the game, Oregon head coach Dana Altman discussed how he thinks the freshmen are coming along.

As the season goes on and they get more comfortable... their talent will come through...so as the season progresses and they get more experience, I’ll be a bit more comfortable [to play them more].

Altman relied mostly on his returning players against the Tigers because they had been there before. He specifically cited sophomores Will Richardson and Francis Okoro as players who learned what it took to win last season and how he hopes that rubs off on this freshman class as the year progresses.

You can watch Altman’s full evaluation of the freshmen in the video above.

Instant Analysis: Ducks hold off Tigers in Phil Knight Invitational opener

Instant Analysis: Ducks hold off Tigers in Phil Knight Invitational opener

The No. 14 Oregon Ducks defeated the No. 13 Memphis Tigers 82-74 at the Moda Center to open the Phil Knight Invitational, led by Shakur Juiston, the Ducks used their experience to outplay the young Tigers. 

Here are some takeaways from the game.

Ducks’ defense as stingy as ever

The Ducks played defense out of their patented 2-3 match-up zone and a three-quarter-court press. They funneled all actions into the teeth of the defense, contested each shot and lived with the results. It's a formula that has done wonders for Altman’s teams. Against a young team like Memphis that starts five freshmen, it sped them up and forced them to rush outside shots or just lose the ball. In the first half alone, Memphis had eight turnovers and air balled multiple three pointers. 

Sloppy play lets Memphis linger around

All eyes going into the game were on James Wiseman. However, the freshman phenom and potential first overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft picked up two quick fouls and sat the remainder of the first half. The Ducks used that time to take a double-digit lead before losing it to trail late in the half. Whenever the teams played in the half court, the Ducks looked vastly superior. But the Ducks turned the ball over 11 times in the first half leading to 20 Memphis points. When teams are struggling, especially missing their best player, the Ducks need to finish the game right there and not let the opponent linger around.

Memphis would go on to open the second half of a 14-7 run to take a one point advantage. The Ducks would respond, but, should never have been in that position to begin with.

The local kids are game changers

The last time Payton Pritchard and Anthony Mathis shared a backcourt while attending West Linn high school, they won back-to-back-to-back state championships. They’re looking to continue that championship streak this season in the form of a Pac-12 title, or something greater.

Their chemistry and compatibility has been evident this season. Pritchard entered the season a preseason favorite to win the Pac-12 player of the year, and Mathis was supposed to supply scorching shooting. They have both delivered on their expectations, so far. Pritchard always looks to be in command of the game, especially against a young team like Memphis. Mathis shot the three well, making four of five three-point attempts en route to 12 points. 

Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers in action at the Phil Knight Invitational, follow along on social

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USATI

Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers in action at the Phil Knight Invitational, follow along on social

Tonight is the second interation Phil Knight Invitational at the Moda Center. The first, PK80, was held in November 2017. 

The action will tip off at 6:00pm PST with the No. 13 Memphis Tigers playing the No. 14 Oregon Ducks in a matchup of ranked teams. 

The headliner will be Memphis center James Wiseman who may go first overall in the 2020 NBA Draft, and was recently declared ineligible by the NCAA. Memphis believes their decision is wrong and will be playing him anyways while the matter gets settled in court.

The Ducks return Pac-12 Player of the Year candidate Payton Pritchard at point guard and will field other notable transfers. They will be without freshman center N’Faly Dante who’s ineligible for the first nine games of the season since he cannot enroll at the University of Oregon until December 14th. In addition, starting center Francis Okoro got hit by a car last week in Eugene and his status for today’s contest in unknown.

The second matchup will be between the Oklahoma Sooners and Oregon State Beavers and tipoff following Oregon-Memphis concludes (approx. 8pm).

The Sooners were picked to finish eighth in the Big-12 this season in the preseason media poll but can easily outplay expectations. The Beavers return senior Tres Tinkle who also is a Pac-12 player of the year candidate. In Vegas, the Beavers are slight underdogs but have enough talent to win. 

Dylan Mickanen will be on site reporting on both games. Feel free to follow along on social as well.

No. 6 Oregon in excellent position in CFB Playoff Poll: Patience is required

No. 6 Oregon in excellent position in CFB Playoff Poll: Patience is required

The College Football Playoff committee released its second rankings and Oregon jumped from No. 7 to No. 6.

The Ducks (8-1, 6-0 Pac-12) were idle this weekend but moved up one spot to No. 6 in the Coaches Poll and Associated Press Poll because of shakeups in the college football landscape. This jump generated anticipation that the same would hold true in the rankings that matter: the CFB Playoff rankings. Those hopes were realized.

After Alabama’s loss to No. 1 LSU the Crimson Tide dropped to No. 5. Then, Minnesota rose to No. 8 after upsetting Penn State (who fell to No. 9). That created space for Oregon to grab the No. 6 spot.

It’s important to remember that today’s rankings are largely for entertainment value, considering how much football is yet to be played. While they do set the tone, the important playoff rankings will be released in a month. I’ve already detailed why Oregon’s current spot doesn’t matter.

It’s going to take patience for Oregon to break into the top four spots. A Duck win this Saturday vs. Arizona would clinch their third North Division title and a spot in the Pac-12 championship. But that won’t be enough to move the needle. Neither will victories over Arizona State or Oregon State.

The streaking Ducks can make a real case on December 6th in Levi’s Stadium. A Pac-12 Title and a win over a high ranked Utah team would be the resume piece to make it interesting on the committee. Utah is currently ranked No. 7 in the CFB Playoff Poll.

The first three playoff spots seem likely concrete: the SEC champion, the Big Ten champion and a 13–0 Clemson winning the Atlantic Coast Conference. The fourth spot? A Pac-12 champion Oregon team with a 12-1 record and a “good loss” to No. 12 Auburn, would certainly get a good shot.

The CFB Playoff committee’s protocol is mostly based on eye test and places an emphasis on four things if teams are comparable: 1. Championships won. 2. Strength of schedule. 3. Head-to-head competition (if it occurred). 4. Outcomes against common opponents.

My advice? Cheer for the Ducks to win out and ignore these rankings until Selection Sunday on December, 8th. Patience is a virtue.

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Sabrina Ionescu jerseys are here but already sold out

The magic number for Oregon vs. Arizona

The magic number for Oregon vs. Arizona

Oregon (8-1, 6-0 Pac-12) is on track to the Pac-12 Conference Title game and in the running as a College Football Playoff contender. The Ducks have three conference games left and Arizona (4-5, 2-4 Pac-12) is the next opponent they must beat. The Ducks are coming off a bye with a lot on line… Here are 10 numbers you need to know about the 7:30 p.m. kickoff in Autzen Stadium.

CROWN ON THE LINE

A Duck win against the Wildcats in the Pac-12-After-Dark game would clinch the North Division title and a spot in the Pac-12 championship. It would be Oregon’s third Pac-12 North crown.

AMONG THE NATION’S ELITE

Oregon is one of five FBS teams (Baylor, Clemson, Minnesota, Ohio State) off to a 6-0 start in conference play. 

BETTING LINE

Oregon opened as 26.5 point favorites over Arizona, which marks the Ducks’ sixth straight home game as a double-digit favorite.

BALL HAWKS

Oregon leads the nation with 17 interceptions, which is the program's most through nine games since 1988. The Ducks' 11.78 points off turnovers per game ranks second in the country and is a major contributing factor in the Ducks’ eight-game winning streak. Jevon Holland and Verone McKinley III each have four picks, leading the team. Eleven different Ducks have recorded an interception.

DON’T MESS WITH HOLLAND

Holland, a sophomore, leads active Pac-12 players in career interceptions with nine. The Jim Thorpe semifinalist is tied for the most career interceptions among sophomores in the nation.

UPSET HISTORY

Arizona has beaten Oregon each of the past three matchups where the Wildcats enter unranked and the Ducks enter ranked. The Wildcats topped No. 19 Oregon, 44-15 last year that featured Arizona running back J.J. Taylor rushing for 212 yards and two scores.

THE MAGIC NUMBER, 40

In the last 12 games between Oregon and Arizona, the Ducks are 7-0 when scoring more than 40 points per game and 0-5 when scoring less than 40.

GOOD INJURY UPDATE

Oregon’s top two running backs, backs CJ Verdell (groin) and Cyrus Habibi-Likio (quad) are expected to play against Arizona. Starting right guard Dallas Warmack (hip flexor) is also good to go.

DON’T UNDERESTIMATE TAYLOR

Arizona’s rushing attack ranks second in the Pac-12, led by JJ Taylor who is ninth in the Pac-12 in rushing with 566 yards. The Wildcats’ total offense (495.8 yards per game) ranks 12th in the country and second in the conference.

EXPLOSION PLAY ALERT

Arizona has had five plays go for 70 or more yards this season. Across the country, only Oklahoma State, Alabama, Colorado State and UCF have more.

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Mario Cristobal’s ear catching comments on expanding Mykael Wright’s role

Three notable changes to Oregon’s depth chart ahead of Arizona

Sabrina Ionescu jerseys are here but already sold out

Sabrina Ionescu jerseys are here but already sold out

Sabrina Ionescu jerseys are here but already sold out

Oregon senior superstar Sabrina Ionescu is tearing up the record books and becoming a household name. Fresh off a Final Four run, Ionescu and the top-ranked Oregon women’s basketball team have their sights on winning it all this season and earning the program’s first national title. And now, Ducks fans can represent the “Triple-Double Queen.”

Well, once the number 20 jerseys are back in stock, that is.

On Monday afternoon, the Oregon Duck store released a “White Nike Replica Oregon #20 Basketball Jersey” for $75. As of Tuesday morning, the jerseys are sold out in every size. No word on when an official re-stock may happen.

Nike will begin to sell a number 20 Oregon college replica jersey in apple green later in the basketball season. The Duck store will also carry it.

The chance for Oregon fans to purchase the replica jerseys is a long time coming. Ionescu has made her opinion known on social media and fans began a petition to Nike in April.

Ionescu’s support worked and the female star tweeted her gratification.

Oregon’s next game is at home versus Utah State on Wednesday at 6 p.m.

Memphis bringing a big-time player and a big controversy to the PKI

Memphis bringing a big-time player and a big controversy to the PKI

The PK Invitational is going to feature an entire level of intrigue that nobody could have seen coming when it unfolds Tuesday night in Moda Center.

The University of Memphis is coming to Portland to meet the Ducks in the 6 p.m. opening game and Oregon State takes on Oklahoma in the 8 o’clock nightcap of the doubleheader.

And Memphis is bringing a very big controversy and a big-time player who will likely be in uniform for the Tigers against the Ducks – one of the top prospects in the country, James Wiseman, a 7-1, 240-pound freshman center.

Wiseman has a group of sharp lawyers on his side and the University of Memphis, too, after the NCAA had declared him ineligible for accepting money from a Memphis booster.

And that booster? It was current Memphis coach and former NBA all-star Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway.

Stay with me here, because this is a tangled web that seems to be what holds college basketball together these days. Hardaway was the head coach at Memphis East High School, where he won two Tennessee state championships. As you may guess, Hardaway was also an AAU coach in the summer, where he presumably met Wiseman. After Wiseman’s junior year of high school in Nashville, Hardaway reportedly provided $11,500 to Wiseman’s mother for moving expenses, so that her son could play for Hardaway in Memphis.

Hardaway had no connection to the university – except he had made a $1 million donation to the school’s athletic department in 2008. Which, in the eyes of the NCAA, classifies him as a booster of the school. Which means he can’t be handing money out to the mother of a recruit.

The NCAA made its ruling and the university launched its own investigation alongside the one by the NCAA. And the school disagrees with the proposition that Hardaway was a “booster” and believes the player to be eligible. They suited him up for a game last week and he was spotted boarding the team plane for Portland Sunday night. A couple of local Memphis lawyers have signed on to get the case into court and that is supposed to happen next week.

In the meantime, all of college basketball will be watching the Ducks and Tigers – and Wiseman – Tuesday night in Portland, wondering if the kid will end up causing forfeits of any games the Tigers win or leads them to great heights as the No. 1 recruit in the country and the leader of the top recruiting class this season.

The Ducks are undefeated at 2-0 and trying to establish themselves as a tournament threat again.

In the second game Tuesday in the tournament that honors Nike founder Phil Knight, the Beavers and Sooners will also try to get a good jump on what they believe will be promising seasons.

Mario Cristobal’s ear catching comments on expanding Mykael Wright’s role

Mario Cristobal’s ear catching comments on expanding Mykael Wright’s role

Oregon true freshman Mykael Wright has earned the nickname “silent assassin” from his teammates. His quiet demeanor, number two jersey and superstar type skills draw the comparison to NBA star Kawhi Leonard. The cornerback lived up to that label in the No. 7 Ducks’ win over USC when he killed USC's momentum and returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown with 20 seconds remaining in the first half.

The speedy freshman had only regularly began working as a kick returner earlier that week. However, Oregon coach Mario Cristobal was not shocked when Wright completely transformed the energy of the game. The top-ranked cornerback in the nation (ESPN, 2019) returned punts in high school and provided tape highlights, which Cristobal often refers to. Cristobal instantly noticed Wright’s natural instincts as a returner.

“Naturally, when the ball is in the air, he knows how to get to it,” Cristobal said. "He knows how to handle receivers and handle guys who show late hands. When he’s had the ball in his hands in practice when he gets a pick or something of that nature, he just has a natural feel for following his blockers or setting up his blocks.”

His versatility has provided a solid foundation and a major strength for Oregon. During his two seasons at Valencia high school in California, Wright had nine interceptions and 25 tackles on defense. On offense, he picked up 1,986 receiving yards in addition to 26 touchdowns.

Entering this season, junior starting cornerback Thomas Graham Jr. tabbed Wright as a future freshman All-American. Now, Cristobal is game planning an increased role for Wright.

“Without question, he’s an electrifying player back there,” Cristobal said. “I think the more he does it, the better and better he’ll get. We don’t want to extend him too much because he’s got a lot going on with special teams and playing corner for us, but his role on teams is going to expand.”

The natural playmaker’s next opportunity will come this Saturday night, as Oregon looks to beat Arizona to officially punch its ticket to the Pac-12 Conference title game.

Three notable changes to Oregon’s depth chart ahead of Arizona

Three notable changes to Oregon’s depth chart ahead of Arizona

No. 7 Oregon has the opportunity to clinch its third Pac-12 North Division title and a spot in the Pac-12 Championship with a win over Arizona (4-5, 2-4 Pac-12) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Autzen Stadium.

Oregon (8-1, 6-0 Pac-12) will look to avenge last season’s loss at Arizona and extend this season’s undefeated streak in conference play and at home (5-0).

Oregon coach Mario Cristobal released the depth chart ahead of the game and there are three notable changes:

1. Graduate-transfer Juwan Johnson is co-starter with redshirt freshman Bryan Addison at “Z” wide receiver position. Expect an increased role for Johnson after back-to-back clutch performances.

“Coming off some injuries, Juwan is a guy that I knew would step up big,” quarterback Justin Herbert said after Oregon’s win at USC. “I don’t think the public has seen his best yet. We knew all along he would be a special player.”

2. At tight end, true freshman Patrick Herbert is listed as co-backup (with Spencer Webb) to senior Ryan Bay. Patrick Herbert has played in two games this season but has yet to catch a pass.

3. Junior Brady Breeze will start at boundary safety. Junior Nick Pickett was called for targeting in the second half against USC and will be out for the first half against Arizona. Regardless of Pickett's status, Breeze "has certainly earned the right to be on the field more," Cristobal said.

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