For those of you who don’t remember, most likely because you’ve washed it from your memory on purpose, let’s flash back to the 2018 Redbox Bowl game.
It was a warm, sunny day for a noon kickoff at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. The 8-4 Ducks, in head coach Mario Cristobal’s inaugural season, earned a post-season bowl game against the 7-6 Michigan State Spartans.
What came next was anything but predicted.
The Ducks and Spartans entered halftime with the scoreboard reading 0-0, and no that wasn’t the game clock, it was the score.
Oregon Strength & Conditioning Coach Aaron Feld joined host Jordan Kent on the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast. Feld was asked what his favorite memory of being a coach at Oregon was.
One of his favorites came at halftime of this Redbox bowl shutout.
Justin Herbert calls the whole team up - he doesn’t speak a whole lot - and he give this great ‘Hey, everybody relax, do your job, you know the drill, we’re going to go out there and win this game.’ And then he said, ‘Now let’s go out there and kick their butts.’ The entire team died out laughing. It was the perfect comic relief, icebreaker, like everyone calm down. We went out and had a good time the second half. — Aaron Feld
It’s the most Justin Herbert-like speech ever.
But it also got the job done. The Ducks went on to win 7-6 and Mario Cristobal earned his first post-season bowl game win as head coach at Oregon. Oregon’s sole touchdown was a 28-yard pass from Herbert to wide receiver Dillon Mitchell with 11:19 to play in the fourth quarter.
Oh man, to be a fly on the wall during that halftime speech.
Feld has another favorite memory, quite similar to the one above, that too makes a whole lot of sense when looking at the last four years of the Oregon Football program.
Last season, Cal had a 7-0 lead at halftime over Oregon in Autzen Stadium, something that doesn’t happen often.
Troy Dye comes into the locker room, grabs Herbie [Justin Herbert] and pulls him over to the offensive line… We had been coaching and preaching about lifting each other up and elevating everybody and Troy calls these guys over and says, ‘Hey, all we need is eight points. If you get us eight points, we’ll win this game.’ We ended up winning 17-7 so the defense absolutely held their end of the bargain. — Aaron Feld
It’s like those moments when the student becomes the master.
That kind of leadership was both needed and expected in those crucial moments and throughout the rest of the season from Justin Herbert and Troy Dye when the two decided to forgo the 2019 NFL Draft and return to Oregon for their senior year.
Be sure to check out the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest Oregon Strength & Conditioning Coach Aaron Feld.