Oregon Ducks

Sue Bird: Sabrina's got the "stuff" you can't teach

Sue Bird: Sabrina's got the "stuff" you can't teach

“Ducks Nation — I’ll see you next year. Let’s see some packed houses. Kobe — I’ll see you next year, too. Hope you keep watching. And WNBA — I’ll see you soon. Real soon, I promise. Just have some business to take care of first.”

This was the message to Duck fans 218 days ago from Sabrina Ionescu.

The basketball phenom decided to forgo the 2019 WNBA Draft (as the projected No. 1 overall pick) and return to Oregon for her senior year.

That unfinished business? Perhaps a redemption tour all the way to the NCAA National Championship after a heartbreaking loss in the Final Four last year. But let’s not get too far ahead. 

It all started last night when the Ducks defeated Team USA 93-86 in an exhibition game at Matthew Knight Arena. 

Ionescu dropped 30 points, seven assists and four rebounds over the best in the world. In what felt like a ceremonial passing of the torch from “GOATS” Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi to the next generation of talent, Ionescu absolutely balled out in the spotlight.

From one G.O.A.T. to the next:

“My favorite part about her game right now is just her competitiveness,” said Bird on Ionescu. “She’s very relentless. Even when you think you have her stopped, she keeps coming at you. Those are things you can’t always teach. So as the year goes on, people are going to talk about ‘Can she shoot? Can she do this? Is she good enough for that?’ Who cares. If you’re competitive, that can overcome a lot. And for her, you can’t teach those things and she’s got them.”

High praise for Ionescu coming from one of the very best to ever play the game.

Ionescu and the Ducks have a big season ahead. A preseason No. 1 ranking, a roster loaded with talent from top to bottom, an established fan base and basketball culture in Eugene, and of course, a competitive nature.

The WNBA is waiting. The sponsors will come. A potential shoe deal? Why not! We all know just how dominant Ionescu is and a professional career will begin in due time. 

But for now, enjoy the ride.

“All that stuff will be waiting for her. It’s going to come eventually. She needs to just enjoy this ride,” said Bird. “She’s going to want to finish it right. Speaking from someone who won their senior year (UConn, 2001-02), there’s no better feeling than walking off the court a winner. You literally leave with no regrets. Hopefully she has that mindset.”

Oh, we think she does.

At Oregon, it's a very good time for making an offensive change

At Oregon, it's a very good time for making an offensive change

Marcus Arroyo is leaving the University of Oregon football program at just the right time.

I can’t think of a better time for this to happen to the Ducks. I have no idea how much they will miss him on the recruiting side of the game – time will tell about that.

But I’m pretty confident they can find an offensive coordinator who can move the ball and score points as well as Arroyo did.

And remember, Arroyo has had a quarterback, Justin Herbert, who is expected to be a first-round pick in the NFL draft.

I’ve never been sure that the Ducks got as much out of Herbert as they should have gotten. They always seemed to be torn between wanting to be a power-running team and being a pass-first team. Either would have been OK, but they often didn’t hit on the right balance. And to be fair to them, it was incumbent upon them to play a style most suitable to Herbert's talents, even if it was counter to their long-term philosophy.

And that could have been attributed to the head coach, too. All I know is that, quite often, the offense did not live up to expectations, considering the line and the quarterback behind it.

Now, though, Mario Cristobal has his chance to shape the offense just the way he wants to, with the hiring of a new offensive coordinator.

I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see Oregon go to a more option-oriented attack with a quarterback who is more of a running threat than pure passer. It would seem to fit with Cristobal's perceived vision of a physical offensive line being able to control games with ball control to benefit a stingy defense.

And with Herbert gone, the way is cleared now to recruit toward that style of play -- or any other style he wishes. I think, too, he will have the resources to hire a big name and/or a proven commodity.

That’s why the time is right for a change. A change in coaches, in philosophy and perhaps even personnel.

Hey NCAA, stop ruining people’s lives please

Hey NCAA, stop ruining people’s lives please

Dear NCAA,

We get it. It’s your way or the highway and no one is going to change your mind. Your constant power-driven moves are getting old. Please stop denying not just athletes but people the freedom to advance their lives. Please reconsider your decision-making process for the better of the athlete and not yourself.

Love,

Everybody.

_______________

Here’s what is going on. Redshirt freshman Sedona Prince announced that she would transfer from the University of Texas to join the Oregon women’s basketball team on July 5, 2019. She had sat out her freshman season with the Longhorns after suffering a broken right leg. Her injury occurred while playing for the USA U18 team at the FIBA Americas Championship in Mexico City in August 2018. 

Prince applied for an NCAA waiver for immediate eligibility and suit up for this Ducks this 2019-2020 season. The NCAA denied her claim on Wednesday. Prince appealed the decision and was denied again.

She will sit on the bench for another year.

The first time Duck fans will see the 6-foot-7, No. 8 rated recruit, and 2018 McDonald’s All-American take the court at Matthew Knight Arena will be the 2020-2021 season.

She never took the court in Texas. She sat on the bench and waited. If the NCAA was going to approve any case in particular, this would be a great situation to do so. Alas, they did not. The NCAA once again showed its true colors.

Oregon Coach Kelly Graves weighed in:

I just feel bad for her and she’s already sat out a year. She got hurt playing for USA basketball for crying out loud, giving up herself for playing something bigger. They deny it. I think she had a pretty good case, I won’t go into the particulars of that. If she doesn’t get it, than who does? Just the arbitrary nature of which they makes decisions is what I think frustrates most people. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason…. Either do it for everybody or you don’t do it for anybody.

Graves makes a valid point. There is no standard for these decisions. It seems like each case is a different way of thinking.

Teammates also took to Twitter to support their Prince and hopefully bring more light to the situation and take a stand to the NCAA.

HERE’S WHY IT SUCKS

Let’s put the mess that is the upper hand power of the NCAA to rest for a moment. 

The hopes and dreams of seeing Prince take the floor this season and with this roster would have been nothing short of stellar. Imagine a scenario with both Prince and senior Ruthy Hebard on the floor together or Prince and Sabrina Ionescu run the pick and roll will remain just hopes and dreams. 

Looking to the future, Prince brings a lot to the table: that 6-foot-7 frame complimented by a killer jump shot. Prince was named the 2018 Texas Girls Association Basketball Athlete of the Year after averaging 22.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 2.8 steals and 4.7 blocks per game. Yes that was two years ago, however, Prince is a great match in Graves' system of constant ball movement and screens.

It is still a year away, but we can't wait to see Prince finally take the court.

There’s only one explanation for Oregon's Pac-12 conference awards… conspiracy theory!

There’s only one explanation for Oregon's Pac-12 conference awards… conspiracy theory!

This article from The Mercury News written by Jon Wilner is bizarre and accurate and is a real head-turner. But it definitely brings up several good points. 

On Tuesday, the Pac-12 Conference released its list of all-conference honors. To some surprise, the 2019 Pac-12 champion Oregon Ducks were only on the entirety of the list four times. Four out of 46 players were Ducks. The fifth player to make all-conference was Brady Breeze for first team specialist.

The 2019 Pac-12 champions with a defense that ranked No. 16 nationally in yards per play, No. 9 in points allowed per game and No. 1 nationally in red zone touchdowns allowed, had just ONE player’s name recognized: Troy Dye, and he was second team all-conference. SECOND TEAM.

Plus, how does the coach who was four points shy of an undefeated season and handedly took down Utah Coach Kyle Wittingham (who won the award this season) by 22 points in the championship game did not win Pac-12 Coach of the Year?

Wilner says it may have something to do with slowing down all that is the Oregon freight train in terms of recruiting.

“Maybe not voting for more Ducks and not voting for Cristobal was an attempt to undermine his efforts on the recruiting trail.”

Dwight Jaynes chimes in:

It’s ridiculous. Wilner is correct. Either Cristobal is a fantastic coach and Coach of the Year or the players didn’t get the recognition they deserved. If it’s because the people don’t like Cristobal, it’s a shame for the kids.

Which brings up a valid point: how does the rest of the Pac-12 view Mario Cristobal and Oregon football? Is it his rough nature? His friendship with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson? His coaching philosophies of physical play? Based on the votes and results, it has to be something…

The voting process happens within 48 hours after the championship game. No coach is allowed to vote for their own players.

The numbers don’t lie and The Mercury News did its research:

Presenting the first piece of evidence in our conspiracy theory: year, champion and total first/second-team selections (listed in order of selections):

2016 Washington: 12 (first/second-team honorees)
2012 Stanford: 10
2013 Stanford: 10
2014 Oregon: 9
2017 USC: 9
2015 Stanford: 8
2018 Washington: 8
2011 Oregon: 6
2019 Oregon: 4

Oh, but there’s more …

Number of first-team selections:

2016 Washington: 9
2015 Stanford: 6
2017 USC: 6
2018 Washington: 6
2012 Stanford: 5
2013 Stanford: 5
2014 Oregon: 5
2011 Oregon: 4
2019 Oregon: 1

Is there a conspiracy? Who knows. But the evidence from Wilner does support the claim. Not only has this season's Oregon team had a historically low amount of first team players, but whenever Oregon has won the conference they've had less first-team selections than when other teams have won the Pac-12.  

Whatever. Haters gonna hate. 

Social media reacts: Mixed feeling on Marcus Arroyo's departure

Social media reacts: Mixed feeling on Marcus Arroyo's departure

It has been confirmed: Oregon offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo is leaving Eugene and the Oregon football program to become the next head coach of the UNLV Rebels.

[RELATED]: Happy fans or not, Marcus Arroyo make large impact for Ducks

There are quite some mixed feelings about this move. 

On one hand, this is a big move for Arroyo who has aspired to become a head coach throughout his football career. 

On the other hand, many have questioned Arroyo’s play calling abilities and coaching tactics that may have stunted quarterback Justin Herbert’s potential.

Below are the comments on our latest post on Instagram about the Arroyo move:

Regardless, big changes coming to the Oregon football staff as the search begins for its next offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

Happy fans or not, losing Marcus Arroyo makes large impact for Ducks

Happy fans or not, losing Marcus Arroyo makes large impact for Ducks

After three seasons at Oregon, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo has agreed to become the new head coach at UNLV. 

Arroyo’s salary at Oregon was $825,000, the third highest Pac-12 Conference assistant salary. Arroyo's contract does have a buyout that would require the coach to pay 20% of his guaranteed salary remaining but that is waived because Arroyo took a head coaching position at the FBS level, which UNLV is a part of.

Why UNLV? Why now?

Arroyo’s head coaching aspirations are realized at UNLV in the Mountain West Conference. The 39-year-old has ties to the Mountain West, playing quarterback at San Jose State (1998-2002), coaching quarterbacks at San Jose State (2006-2008) and coaching quarterbacks/offensive coordinator at Wyoming (2009-10).

He’s raking over a Rebels program with some shiny new facilities and recruiting tools (something Arroyo is used to at Oregon). UNLV’s priority was to hire a head coach before early signing period for the 2020 class occurs from December 18-20. The Rebels have 10 players committed for what 247Sports ranks as the Mountain West’s No. 3 class.

The Rebels recently opened a $34.8 million, 73,000-square-foot Fertitta Football Complex, a likely recruiting highlight for his new staff.

Arroyo takes over a program with three winning seasons in 27 years. Tony Sanchez went 20-40 over five seasons before being officially fired Nov. 25.

Fan Un-favorite

Oregon fans developed a strong dislike towards Arroyo this season.

“Why did the Ducks throw downfield more against Auburn?”

“Where is the play-calling creativity?”

“Why are Arroyo’s play calls so predictable? One-dimensional?

“How come there aren’t many explosive plays?”

Some fans go as far to say that Arroyo didn’t develop senior quarterback Justin Herbert to his full potential.

In reality, Oregon’s offense has improved over Arroyo’s tenure and much of the “lackluster-ness” is due to UO coach Mario Cristobal’s strength and power offense designed to dominate the trenches and pound the ground.

Coming off possibly his best play calling performance in Oregon’s 37-15 win over Utah, Arroyo’s offense averaged 35.2 points per game this season. That ranked second in the Pac-12 Conference behind Washington State’s air raid. Arroyo coached Herbert to 3,333 yards passing with 32 touchdowns and only five interceptions. Running back CJ Verdell reached 1,000 yards rushing for his second-straight season. 2019 marked the second consecutive year and fourth time in program history that Oregon has had a 3,000-yard passer and 1,000-yard rusher in the same season. The Ducks also lead the nation with number of players with a touchdown (19) and number of players with a receiving touchdown (12).

The proof is in the pudding... Oregon is 11-2, won the Pac-12 title and has a chance to win its first Rose Bowl since 2014.

What impact does this have?

With Justin Herbert NFL bound in April, Oregon’s offense will be likely run by quarterback Tyler Shough in 2020. Herbert’s heir, Shough, was recruited by Arroyo.

As evident with Herbert, who sustained three different head coaches throughout his Oregon career, coaching turnover can stunt growth and slow progress.
It’s expected that Cristobal will stick to his offensive philosophy but coaching turnover will undoubtably have an affect on Shough, who has spent two seasons with Arroyo. A big question mark is how much of an affect? Will Shough have to learn a new offense over the summer with a matchup against Ohio State looming in non-conference play?

[READ: Dana Shough's fight and win over breast cancer the "largest championship game" she's ever been in]
As with any coaching change, the 2020 recruiting class may be effected as recruiting sharks will emerge in attempt to steer prospects to other Pac-12 coaches. Oregon’s class currently ranks No. 1 in the Pac-12 and No. 11 in the nation. With Cristobal’s recruiting prowess, I wouldn’t expect UO to take too big of a hit.

Other notable current Ducks who were recruited by Arroyo: wide receivers Mycah Pittman, Josh Delgado and JR Waters.

Who could be replacement?

Oregon has a few candidates in house that could be promoted within, like running backs coach Jim Mastro. However, if I were a betting woman, I’d say the Ducks will open up a nation wide search.

Oregon Ducks OC Marcus Arroyo named head coach at UNLV

Oregon Ducks OC Marcus Arroyo named head coach at UNLV

It is official... Oregon offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo has agreed to become the new head coach at UNLV. 

NBCS Bay Area's Matt Maiocco broke the news: 

According to UNLV Athletics, "Marcus has demonstrated a commitment to integrity and excellence throughout his career, and we look forward to a bright future for our football program under his leadership," UNLV President Marta Meana said. "We're excited to welcome Marcus and his family to Las Vegas and UNLV."

The contract terms are not immediately known. Arroyo’s salary while coaching in Eugene was $825,000. Oregon is not owed a buyout. 

At this time, it’s unclear if the Ducks will hire outside the program to replace Arroyo or promote from within. Running backs coach Jim Mastro was considered for Cal Poly’s head coaching position before Cal offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin accepted the position. Perhaps, he lost interest after sensing a promotion may be near in Eugene. 

As for the Rebels, getting a new head coach in place was a priority given the early signing period for the 2020 recruiting class occurs over December 18th through the 20th. UNLV fired Tony Sanchez after he went 20-40 in five seasons as Rebels head coach. The university also recently opened up a $35 million football facility to help with recruiting and results on the field. 

Arroyo should help greatly in that regard. He’s always been known as an ace recruiter helping the Ducks land the best two classes in school history in his two seasons as offensive coordinator under Mario Cristobal. The new Rebels head coach recently described the Ducks’ recruiting approach as recruiting like “monsters”, and he’ll bring that mentality to Las Vegas.

Arroyo’s offense averaged 35.2 points per game, second only in the conference to the Washington State Cougars. It also averaged 450 yards of total offense per game, good for third in the conference behind WSU and USC. 

Arroyo served as the quarterbacks coach as well. He helped future first-round-pick Herbert have his most successful season of his collegetic career finishing with 3,333 yards passing with 32 touchdowns and only five interceptions.

Arroyo became a controversial figure among Ducks fans this season with some accusing his playcalling lacking creativity, especially following the Arizona State and Oregon State games. However, his offense ranked near the top in many categories in the Pac-12 and his offense scored 34 or more points eight times this season. Including, putting up 37 points against then-No. 5 Utah in the Pac-12 championship game. 

What do you think Ducks fans? Are you excited for a new offensive mind to take over play calling? Or are you worried? 

Justin Herbert honored for success on the field and in the classroom

Justin Herbert honored for success on the field and in the classroom

The William V. Campbell Award is given annually to the college football player that is not only one of the best in the sport but is one of the best in the classroom as well.

This season's recipient: Oregon's Justin Herbert.

Herbert is a special talent. Duck fans know this. But, for as talented as he is on the gridiron, he may be more talented in his studies.

To be considered for the William V. Campbell Award, one must possess at least a 3.2 GPA. Herbert, well, he has 4.01 GPA. The General Science major studies for finals just as hard as he studies game film. 

In fact, on the flight to New York for the ceremony, Herbert spent time working on his final exams. 

Herbert and members of the team have been in New York for the past few days, but on Tuesday night Herbert was officially handed the trophy. Here are some of the sights and sounds from the Big Apple:

Undoubtedly, there will be more awards to come for this tremendous student-athlete. 

Penei Sewell wins Morris Trophy

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Penei Sewell wins Morris Trophy

Oregon sophomore Penei Sewell has been named the offensive recipient of the 40th annual Morris Trophy, which is presented to the most outstanding offensive and defensive lineman in the Pac-12 Conference.

 

Sewell is the seventh Duck to win the Morris Trophy, including the fourth offensive lineman, which is voted on by players in the Pac-12. The league’s starting defensive linemen vote for the offensive winner and vice versa.

 

Already named the Pac-12 Player of the Year by Pro Football Focus, Sewell is one of three finalists for the Outland Trophy. The recipient of the 74th Outland Trophy will be announced during ESPN's The Home Depot College Football Awards on Dec. 12, live from the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.

 

Sewell’s dominance at left tackle protecting quarterback Justin Herbert has been on full display this season. He finished the regular season as PFF’s top-graded offensive lineman in the nation with a grade of 95.9, while is 95.5 run-block grade was also tops in the country. In 466 pass-blocking snaps this season, Sewell has allowed just seven pressures and no sacks. He has put together eight games without allowing a pressure, hurry or hit on the quarterback. His 92.2 pass-blocking mark ranks second nationally.

 

Named the Outland Trophy Offensive Player of the Month for September, Sewell leads Oregon with 52 knockdowns, including a staggering 11 against Montana. A native of Malaeimi, American Samoa, Sewell has been the top-ranked offensive lineman in the Pac-12 by PFF six times this year and taken home the Pac-12 Offensive Lineman of the Week award four times.

 

Sewell and Utah’s Bradley Anae will be honored at the 2019 Morris Trophy Award banquet on Thursday, January 16, at the Washington Athletic Club in downtown Seattle. 

 

Oregon Offensive Morris Trophy Winners
2019 – Penei Sewell (OL)
2017 – Tyrell Crosby (OL)
2015 – DeForest Buckner (DL)
2008 – Nick Reed (DL)
2005 – Haloti Ngata (DL)
2004 – Adam Snyder (OL) 
1983 – Gary Zimmerman (OL)

Oregon QB Justin Herbert awarded William V. Campbell Trophy

Oregon QB Justin Herbert awarded William V. Campbell Trophy

Oregon football’s destiny changed three years ago on October 8, 2016. It was a 70 degree day in Eugene, with a 4:35 PM kickoff. A Saturday rival game featuring Oregon vs. Washington. The Ducks were on a three-game losing streak in a desperate search for answers. They turned to a tall, gangly figure sporting the No. 10 across his chest as he trotted onto the field ready to begin his starting role. This figure was freshman quarterback Justin Herbert, and he and the Ducks got smacked 70-21 by the Huskies. 

But it was in that moment, on that day, that Oregon football would change the course of its destiny.

A 4-8 season that turned into a Rose Bowl appearance four years later thanks in big to the arm, mind, character and heart of Herbert.

On Tuesday, three days after leading the Ducks to a Pac-12 Championship, Herbert was honored with the William V. Campbell award. 

The award recognizes an individual as the absolute best football scholar-athlete in the nation for his combined academic success, football performance and exemplary leadership.

Here are the prerequisites for this prestigious award:

Be a senior or graduate student. Check.

Herbert gave Ducks fans the best Christmas present of them all when he announced he would forgo the 2019 NFL Draft as a potential top 10 draft pick and return to Oregon for his senior season. And what a season it has been with a Rose Bowl at the end of the tunnel.

Have a GPA of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale. Check. 

Well, sort of because Herbert broke the scale. He currently holds a 4.01 GPA majoring in General Science with an emphasis in Biology. When Talkin’ Ducks host Jordan Kent sat down with Herbert earlier this season, Herbert explained with a chuckle that his toughest class was neuroscience, which we think just may be everyone’s toughest class…

Outstanding football ability. Check.

Duh. A projected top 10 draft pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, leading his team to a Pac-12 Championship and now Rose Bowl appearance, second in the Pac-12 conference in passing (3,333 yards), 32 touchdowns to just five interceptions on the season and a 74.1 QBR.

Strong leadership and citizenship. Check.

In an article written by Rob Moseley of GoDucks.com, Herbert was one of the main advocates to name Mario Cristobal as Oregon’s head coach after Willie Taggart departed for Florida State in 2017. Herbert called UO athletic director Rob Mullens over the phone to directly give his opinion.

Herbert exhibits leadership qualities on and off the field, and as the Ducks prepare for their final game of the season at the 'granddaddy of them all', can you imagine a better storybook ending than Herbert, the hometown hero, hoisting a Rose Bowl trophy in a few weeks…