Oregon Ducks

Verone McKinley III on loss to the Beavs: We apologize to the alumni

Oregon Ducks

For the Oregon Ducks, losing to rival Oregon State is always disappointing. 

In football, a loss to the Beavs should be considered nothing short of disastrous for an Oregon program with aspirations of being among the nation's elite. 

When the No. 15 Oregon Ducks (3-1) collapsed in the fourth quarter to lose 41-38 to Oregon State on Friday at Reser Stadium, sophomore safety Verone McKinley III responded in a way that any Duck fan should love to see.

He took responsibility for the loss while alluding to the result being unacceptable, even going as far as apologizing to all Oregon alumni.

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"It definitely hurts. We play to win the game. We want to be 1-0 and we didn't do that today," McKinley told reporters after the loss. "We apologize to the alumni, guys that come before us."

Oregon entered the game as 13.5-point favorites with aspirations of going 7-0, winning the Pac-12, and maybe being in the College Football Playoff discussion. Instead, it left Reser Stadium with arguably the program's most disappointing loss in years. 

"With this being a rivalry game, this is something the state of Oregon looks at all the time," said McKinley. "For us to not win this game, it's tough... It's tough and we got to do a better job ourselves of making sure we capitalize on different moments in that we don't get down or anything like that.

 

"That we always have to keep pushing forward and moving onto the next play. The [last] play can't help or hurt you."

Only 2019's loss to Arizona State compares in regards to expectation heading into the contest and the result in recent memory. 

But last year's season was still considered a success after Oregon rebounded to win the conference and the Rose Bowl. That result is still in play for the 2020 team, who controls its destiny to win the Pac-12 and earn a bid to an NY6 bowl. 

The season's not over. This defeat isn't a program-defining loss.

But, the team needs to proceed forward to ensure it's not and from McKinley's post-game comments, it sounds like that process has already begun. 

"It's just on us as a collective unit and it definitely stings but the thing is we're going to bounce back from this and come back harder than ever," added the safety. "This isn't us and we're better than this and we know we're better than this. 

"We just want to bounce back and have good practices and meetings and correct it and move on. That's all we can do is correct it and move on."

Head coach Mario Cristobal said the switch had been flipped in regards to preparing for Cal (0-3) next week, but what exactly will the Ducks players do to turn it around?

The team has looked shaky through four games and Friday's performance was easily the worst of the season. To repeat as Pac-12 Champions, Oregon players will need to hold themselves and each other accountable. The talent level is far too high on the roster to sneak by lower-level Pac-12 opponents. 

"It's all about accountability," explained McKinley. "We got to look ourselves in the eyes and look at each other and realize what we need to be better at, what we need to emphasize."

Some may wonder if defensive coordinator Andy Avalos has regressed after an amazing 2019 debut as Oregon's defensive play-caller. McKinley on the other hand blames the players' execution rather than the coaches. 

"You can't just focus on the coaches because they put us in a position to make the plays... We got to execute. It's all about execution at the end of the day."

Oregon will get the opportunity to get back on track on Saturday, December 5th when it plays the California Golden Bears (0-3) at California Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, CA.