Oregon Ducks

Talkin' with the Ducks: Justin Herbert more than a "quiet guy who can sling the rock" says Shane Lemieux

Talkin' with the Ducks: Justin Herbert more than a "quiet guy who can sling the rock" says Shane Lemieux

Welcome into a new running NBC Sports Northwest feature; Talkin’ with the Ducks. Joining us on the second edition is the top-ranked guard in the Pac-12 Conference, senior Shane Lemieux. The video above is part one, where we dive into Lemieux's perspective on quarterback Justin Herbert. 

[WATCH: Juwan Johnson and Justin Herbert's intensifying connection]

Lemieux, who has started 38 straight games at left guard, has witnessed Herbert evolve over their careers at Oregon but he's noticed exponential growth as of late. 

"Justin has never been the athlete he is now," Lemieux said. "Especially off the field, he’s such a better leader… He’s always the one that brings us back in."

Herbert, the 6-foot-6, 235-pound passer with the powerful right arm and sneaky fast wheels, has already been pegged as a top 10 prospect in the 2020 NFL Draft. 

In the video, Lemieux divulges that Herbert's personality is different than the common perception. Also, he answers the question, if Herbert had social media, what would his Instagram look like?

Nagurski, Outland watch lists littered with Ducks

Nagurski, Outland watch lists littered with Ducks

It's that time of year, folks. The time leading up to the official kickoff of the 2019 college football season where we find out which one of our favorite players is on one of the early season watch lists. For the Ducks, they're all over the place!

The Outland Trophy watch list was announced early on Tuesday, and the Ducks landed four players on the list:  Senior offensive linemen Jake Hanson, Shane Lemieux, and Calvin Throckmorton, as well as junior defensive tackle Jordon Scott.

The Outland Trophy is given annually to the best interior lineman in college football. In its 74 year history, no Oregon player has won the award. Could that change in 2019?

Hanson, Lemieux, and Throckmorton are all three-year starters. Hanson has not allowed a sack in 2,739 career snaps. Lemieux had a breakout season last year and was named a preseason All-American by three different outlets heading into this season. As for Throckmorton, the versatile lineman has started 38 consecutive games, doing so at four different positions. 
 
On the other side of the ball, you have Jordon Scott. This is the second-straight year that Scott has been on the Outland Trophy watch list, but it's not the only list Scott is on. The Bronko Nagurski watch list was also announced Tuesday. The award is given annually to the top defensive player in the country, and Scott, as well as teammate Troy Dye made the list. 

Scott has made 24 consecutive starts and earned Pac-12 All-Conference Second-Team honors last season. 

A senior linebacker, Dye was one of the best defensive players in the country last season. It surprised many when he decided not to declare for the NFL Draft and come back for his final season at Oregon. Dye is just one of two FBS players returning who led their team in tackles each of the last three seasons. Dye needs just 121 more tackles to become Oregon's all-time leader in career tackles. 
 
Oregon kicks off its 2019 season on August 31st in Arlington, Texas against the Auburn Tigers. 

What I’m watching and listening for at Pac-12 Media Day

What I’m watching and listening for at Pac-12 Media Day

The Pac-12 Conference is taking over Hollywood on Wednesday for its annual Pac-12 Media Day where all 12 schools are represented and available for reporters.

It’s amazing to me that each season, the coaches and players can speak about such a wide variety of topics with ease without getting rattled by questions. With that said, there are bound to be some great quotes and opinions on hot topics in the conference.

Here is what I am watching and listening for.

1. Border War Heat

I’d argue the rivalry between Oregon and Washington has never been hotter. The two rivals are the conference’s best chance in the national playoff chase and last season’s game was an instant classic for most Duck fans.

Before the Ducks upset the Huskies in a 30-27 overtime win at home last season, the rivalry had been quite lopsided. Washington won against Oregon in 2016 and 2017 by a combined score of 108-24. Prior to that, the Ducks had a 12-game winning streak that started in 2004 to 2015, the longest winning streak of the 100-year rivalry.

The Ducks travel to Husky Stadium on Oct. 19 to try to usurp the reigning conference champions. With a win over Auburn, it’s very possible the Ducks will be 6-0 heading into Seattle.

The respective campuses in Eugene and Seattle are 285 miles apart via Interstate 5, but I’m hoping the coaches and players will address the bitter rivalry. Last season, Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said, “We don’t ever try to hide, mask or down play going into rivalries.”

2. Herbert’s finale

I have a lot of questions regarding the Oregon offense. Marcus Arroyo is entering his third season as offensive coordinator and has a four-year starting quarterback, possibly the 2020 NFL Draft’s top quarterback selection, in Justin Herbert. Herbert’s teammates say he has never been better, his leadership skills have grown immensely, he will be playing with one of the best veteran offensive lines in the nation and a large array of weapons to sling the ball to… This is a recipe for a entertaining offense, right?

Last season, Oregon’s offense averaged 32.3 points (second) and 426.9 yards (third) in Pac-12 games, but was not efficient or explosive. The dropped passes and running game was a major issue. Are the Ducks worried about the wide receiver position? Are there wrinkles coming to the rushing attack? What has Arroyo changed or worked on in the offseason when it comes to opening up the playbook?

The Ducks’ 2018 offense was good enough to win nine games but has a chance to be much better in in Herbert’s final season. 

3. OSU’s defense

Oregon State’s defense has to be better than last season, right? The Beavers could not stop anyone. Outside of a 48-25 home win over Southern Utah, Oregon State allowed at least 34 points in every other game last season.

OSU won two games last season in Jonathan Smith’s first season as head coach. Entering year two, the Beavers landed the No. 3 defensive lineman junior college transfer in the nation in Tavis Shippen. I expect the pickup of Shippen plus two four-star linebacker transfers (Nebraska’s Avery Roberts and Oklahoma’s Addison Gumbs) to extremely help OSU’s depth on the defense.

Bonus

Did you know Troy Dye and Herbert have been to more Pac-12 media days than Cristobal? I’m interested to see if there is an obvious difference in both of the Duck stars last go around. It’s always interesting to see what they’ve been up to this summer and I may even ask a fun “Would You Rather?” question.

Ducks, Beavs at Pac-12 Media Day

For Oregon, coach Mario Cristobal, quarterback Justin Herbert and linebacker Troy Dye will be in attendance. Heading from Corvallis to Hollywood for Oregon State are coach Jonathan Smith, running back Jermar Jefferson and wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins. 

Five takeaways from the 2019-20 Oregon men's basketball schedule

Five takeaways from the 2019-20 Oregon men's basketball schedule

The Pac-12 Conference released the schedule for the 2019-20 men's basketball season. Coming off a run to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16, the Ducks currently have just eight players eligible to play, led by star point guard Payton Pritchard and two returners from last season's team; Francis Okoro and Will Richardson.

A few takeaways from Oregon's schedule;

-Oregon will host USC and UCLA, but won’t make a return trip to Los Angeles as part of this year’s rotation.

-Oregon travels to Washington and Washington State and will also meet just once. 

-A home-heavy tail end; Oregon will play five of its last seven games at home for the first time since 2015-16.

-Mark your calendars! The Pac-12 Tournament, which Oregon won over Washington last season, will be held at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas March 11-14.

-Things are changing; Next season, the conference moves to a 20-game conference schedule, which includes 10 pairings instead of nine. 

[RELATED: Ducks to open with Seton Hall in Battle 4 Atlantis]

From the UO Athletic Department:

Oregon will play five of its last seven Pac-12 men’s basketball games at home in 2019-20.

The conference announced the Pac-12 pairings for the 2019-20 season on Monday.

Oregon will open the league season at the mountain schools, Colorado and Utah, the weekend of Jan. 4.

The Ducks’ Pac-12 home opener will come a week later against Arizona and Arizona State.

The only regular season meetings between Oregon and the Washington schools comes the weekend of Jan. 18, when Oregon treks to Seattle and Pullman.

The Ducks return to Matthew Knight Arena to host UCLA and USC the weekend of Jan. 25. Oregon will not play in Los Angeles this year.

Then it’s three-straight road games for the Ducks with California and Stanford in the Bay Area the weekend of Feb. 1 and a trip to Corvallis the weekend of Feb. 8.

After the Civil War, the schedule flips with five-of-seven games at Matthew Knight Arena.

Colorado and Utah are in town the weekend of Feb. 15.

The Ducks make their final road trip of the year to Arizona and ASU the weekend of Feb. 22.

The 2019-20 regular season wraps with OSU visiting Eugene the weekend of Feb. 29 followed by Cal and Stanford the weekend of March 7.

This will be the first time since the 2015-16 season that the Ducks will play five of their last seven games at home.

The 2019 Pac-12 Tournament will be held March 11-14 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Monday’s announcement reflects the games being played and the home/away designations each week of the Pac-12 regular season. Specific dates and times for each game within a week will be announced later this summer after selections by the league’s television partners are finalized. All 108 Conference games will be televised by either Pac-12 Network, ESPN/2/U, FOX/FS1 or CBS.

Oregon’s 2019-20 non-conference schedule will also be released in the coming weeks.

Some non-conference dates previously announced include Memphis in the Phil Knight Invitational Nov. 12 at the Moda Center in Portland, the Battle for Atlantis Nov. 27-29 in the Bahamas and a road game at Michigan on Dec. 14.

This will be the final season that teams will play an 18-game Pac-12 schedule. The conference announced this past May that it will transition to a 20-game league schedule beginning with the 2020-21 season.

Kenny Wooten signs Exhibit 10 deal with the New York Knicks


Kenny Wooten signs Exhibit 10 deal with the New York Knicks


The final University of Oregon NBA Draft prospect left on the board seems to have found a home. 

Kenny Wooten, the 6-foot-9 high flying forward, has signed an Exhibit 10 deal with the New York Knicks following his Summer League appearances with the team. 

A four star forward in the Class of 2017, Wooten entered Eugene on the heels of the famed 2017 Final Four squad. In two seasons with Oregon, Wooten was a force around the rim, rejecting 166 shots in only 70 appearances, settling in at third on the school’s blocks leaderboard. 

After somewhat surprisingly declaring for the 2019 NBA Draft, Wooten went undrafted alongside teammate Louis King. 

[RELATED]: King signs a two-way deal with the Detroit Pistons

An Exhibit 10 contract brings Wooten into New York’s training camp in the fall. If management likes what they see, Wooten will be converted into a two way deal. A two-way deal allows players to be with the NBA team for up to 45 days that can earn him up to $204,000. On the other hand, if Wooten is cut and spends at least 45 days with the Knicks G-League affiliate, the Westchester Knicks, he will earn a $50,000 bonus. 

The Knicks have already filled their 15 roster spots and signed one of their two, two-way players (Kris Wilkes), so it is likely that Wooten will begin his professional career in Westchester. 

The Bridge Podcast: Joey Harrington's refreshingly honest perspective

The Bridge Podcast: Joey Harrington's refreshingly honest perspective

Upon hearing of Joey Harrington's birth, legendary Oregon football coach Len Casanova jokingly sent his parents a letter-of-intent. It was an ironically fitting beginning to a long relationship between Harrington and the Ducks.

Harrington sits down for a one-on-one with Justin Myers of The Bridge for a deep dive into his career at Oregon to the culmination of the 2002 Fiesta Bowl victory and the Heisman Trophy presentation. His perspective of Oregon’s history, present and future, is unique and refreshingly honest.

A three-year starter, the quarterback is cemented as an all-time UO great and his 7,121 yards of total offense rank third in University of Oregon history. In the podcast, Harrington talks about the loss against Oregon State in 2000 that still eats away at him and how he feels that the Ducks were robbed of a 2002 Rose Bowl.

“The rest of the country wanted us to be in that game, the rest of the country wanted to see Oregon playing Miami,” Harrington said. “That created a buzz around the country that influenced recruiting, uniforms, marketing. The program took a trajectory at that point.”

What was it like to be on a billboard in Times Square promoting “Joey Heisman”? What about on the cover of Sports Illustrated and the 2003 edition of EA Sports’ NCAA Football video game? Check out the podcast to learn more from Harrington, himself.




Oregon vs. Auburn stage just got bigger and better with ESPN GameDay

Oregon vs. Auburn stage just got bigger and better with ESPN GameDay

Are you ready for a day long dose of the Ducks on August 31? ESPN’s College GameDay will open the football season on Aug. 31 at Sundance Square in Fort Worth, Texas to preview that night’s marquee matchup between Oregon and Auburn in the Advocare Classic at AT&T Stadium.

Oregon’s 25 GameDay appearances ranks ninth all time in total appearances.  It also is the third time for a game in AT&T Stadium.

The national attention continues for the game on ABC’s Saturday Night Football broadcast with a 4:30 p.m. PT kickoff.

44 days away from the polarizing matchup, the Ducks are the projected underdog, but I predict Oregon will emerge from probable top-15 battle as the victors.

Optimism is high for Oregon football’s 2019 season and beating the Tigers will essentially make or break the team’s College Football Playoff hopes. A win sends the Ducks and the Pac-12 Conference into national relevancy, and a loss initiates an uphill fight; no team has ever rebounded from a week one loss to make the final field of four.

Oregon is 14-10 all-time in games in which College GameDay is in attendance, six losses on the road or in neutral site games. Last season, the Ducks lost both their games in which GameDay was in attendance (Stanford, Washington State). Auburn’s record is 9-9 when College GameDay visits the site its games, last winning during the 2017 Iron Bowl.

It’s the first meeting between these teams since Auburn’s 22-19 win in the BCS National Championship game in 2011.

"One-two punch" running backs CJ Verdell and Travis Dye named to Doak Walker Award list

"One-two punch" running backs CJ Verdell and Travis Dye named to Doak Walker Award list

2018 saw the emergence of Ducks duo CJ Verdell and Travis Dye, who will be excellent for years to come. Now the self-proclaimed "one-two punch" have been named to the Doak Walker Award watch list. 

[RELATED: LaMichael James' take on Oregon running back Sean Dollars: Dangerous]

From the Oregon Athletic Department:

One of just two returning Power 5 running back duos in the country that rushed for more than 700 yards each in 2018, Oregon sophomores Travis Dye and CJ Verdell were named to the Doak Walker Award Watch List on Wednesday.

Oregon is one of eight teams with multiple players on the watch list for the Doak Walker Award, which is presented annually to the nation’s top college running back.

Verdell is coming off a redshirt freshman season in which he was the only player in the nation with 1,000 yards rushing and 300 yards receiving. He was one of eight FBS freshmen with 1,000 yards on the ground and just the third freshman in Oregon history to accomplish the feat. Verdell finished seventh in the Pac-12 in both rushing yards (1,018) and rushing TDs (10).

An early enrollee in the 2018 signing class, Dye made an immediate impact in his first season with 739 yards and four touchdowns. All three of Dye’s 100-yard games came in Pac-12 play, as he finished 11th in the league in rushing. 

In Oregon’s regular season finale win at Oregon State, the duo combined for 386 yards and six touchdowns on the ground while Dye set the program single-game freshman record with 199 yards on 33 carries. Verdell scored five TDs in his 187-yard performance, becoming the first FBS player since 2016 with four rushing TDs and a receiving TD in the same game.

[RELATED: Preseason award watch lists rolling in for Justin Herbert]

True freshman Kayvon Thibodeaux poised to lead Oregon football in sacks

True freshman Kayvon Thibodeaux poised to lead Oregon football in sacks

Oregon coach Mario Cristobal named Kayvon Thibodeaux a “game changer” from the moment he committed to the Ducks. Undoubtedly, ESPN's No. 1 recruit in the 2019 class is competing for a starting job and I predict the defensive end will lead UO in sacks this season.

Thibodeaux enters into an Oregon pass rushing unit that lost two leaders in Justin Hollins and Jalen Jelks to graduation. Hollins led UO last season with 6.5 sacks. Thibodeaux is poised for seven or more sack this season; he enrolled early, quickly adjusted to college pace and displayed an array of pass-rushing moves that indicate he will be a high-impact player right away.

By the way, the true freshman is doing a push-up challenge on his Instagram account called “see 50, do 50” where he does 50 pushups every hour and encourages his followers to join in. He also joined Oregon's 500-pound squat club during offseason workouts

At 6-foot-5, 240 pounds, he’s an elite pass rusher with explosiveness, scary speed and agility that creates major issues for offensive lines.

Thibodeaux’s production will be critically important for the Duck defense. Gus Cumberlander is Oregon’s top returning pass rusher who recorded four sacks in 2018. Whether he’s a first-stringer or a rotational player, Thibodeaux has the opportunity to make a huge impact that could lead to All-Pac-12 honors by the end of the season.

During the UO spring game, Thibodeaux generated consistent pressure and recorded a sack. He would have had at least one more if the scrimmage was completely game-like without the quarterbacks in red no-contact jerseys.

Thibodeaux’s talent plus football IQ equals a star in the making. There are just 46 days until Oregon football kicks off the 2019 season against Auburn on August 31, 2019. In order for the Ducks to contend in the Pac-12 north, Thibodeaux will need to live up to expectations and shoulder the weight as a UO’s leading pass-rusher.

MORE PREDICTIONS

Underdog Ducks will beat Auburn

Troy Dye, projected first round 2020 NFL draft pick, will smash Oregon record

Justin "Record Breaker" Herbert; will set new record for career pass completions

Cam McCormick back with a vengeance

"Dangerous" running back Sean Dollars to have a money freshman season

Preseason award watch lists rolling in for Justin Herbert

Preseason award watch lists rolling in for Justin Herbert

From the UO athletic department:

For the second consecutive day, Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert landed on a preseason watch list. This time, Herbert was one of 30 quarterbacks on the Davey O’Brien Award Watch List, announced on Tuesday by the Davey O’Brien Foundation.

[READ: Justin Herbert named to Maxwell Award watch list for America's College Player of the Year]

The Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award is presented annually to the nation’s best college quarterback and is the oldest national quarterback award. Herbert is one of eight players on the watch list that were semifinalists last year.

Herbert enters the 2019 campaign with the nation’s longest active streak of 28 consecutive games with a touchdown pass. On Monday, the Eugene, Ore., native was named to the watch list for the 83rd annual Maxwell Award, which is which is presented to America's College Player of the Year.

The projected top quarterback in the 2019 NFL Draft, Herbert announced that he would be returning for his senior season prior to Oregon’s win over Michigan State in the Redbox Bowl. The Eugene, Ore., product started all 13 games in 2018, passing for 3,151 yards and 29 touchdowns.

Herbert Quick Hits 

» Two-time Academic All-America first team honoree and the reigning Google Cloud Academic All-America® Team Member of the Year.

» Owns a streak of 28 consecutive games with a TD pass, good for the longest active streak in the nation.

» Has led Oregon to an average of 38.3 points per game over his 28 career starts.

» Oregon is 15-6 in his 21 starts over the last two seasons (2017 & 18).

» Enters 2019 season ranked fifth among active FBS leaders in passing TDs (63) and eighth in passing yards (7,070).

» Has 23 TD passes and two interceptions in 11 career Pac-12 road games (10 starts).

Preseason Honors

» Davey O’Brien Award Watch List
» Maxwell Award Watch List
» Phil Steele All-America third team
» Athlon Sports Pac-12 first team
» Phil Steele Pac-12 first team
» No. 11 on Sports Illustrated Top 100 Players