What’s Quack’s: Live and Let Dye
Monday with Mario Cristobal
Coming off their third straight road loss, the Oregon Ducks are back at home this week after falling to Utah 32-25 in Salt Lake City. The Arizona State Sun Devils, a Pac-12 South title contender, are coming to Eugene this Saturday on senior day for the Ducks.
Scroll through to find injury updates, updated depth charts, and more news surrounding the Oregon Ducks from head coach Mario Cristobal with just two games left of Pac-12 conference play.
New faces in new places as the “next man up” mentality is making its way through several positions for Oregon. Just when certain personnel are starting to click, an injury forces another into the game. And for certain positions groups, such as running back and inside linebacker, are a bit more thin than others.
Cristobal lists off players’ statuses as of today (Monday):
- Cyrus Habibi-Likio: Quad contusion. Estimated time of return: Cristobal says he “is doing very well; much better.”
- CJ Verdell: Tweaked his neck a little. Estimated time of return: Cristobal “thinks he’s be okay.”
- Sampson Nui & Steven Jones are in concussion protocol.
- Adrian Jackson: Shoulder. Landed on it awkwardly on blocked punt. Cristobal says “We feel optimistic, hoping he’ll be full go for practice tomorrow.”
Travis Dye time to shine
One of the positions that has changed dramatically over the course of the season has been running back. At the start of the season, we all thought that this was senior Tony Brooks-James’ year to shine. However, Brooks-James has had a bad case of the fumbles lately and has seen time primarily on special teams (kickoff returns). The other senior Taj Griffin transferred leaving room for the underclassmen to shine. Darrian Felix has been nursing a foot injury this entire season, and now Habibi-Likio is injured with a quad contusion. CJ Verdell suffered a neck tweak during the Utah game which leaves the only healthy running back on this roster as freshman Travis Dye.
Now good news for Ducks fans is Dye has proven to make explosive plays, however, he has also had a couple bad fumbles this season.
“He is a pretty special freshman,” Cristobal says of Dye. “Against a team that is really good at defending the run, he found some chunk plays in there… we have confidence in Travis. Those guys might be young, but they are guys that we trust.”
Jordon Scott takes ownership
Following the loss at Utah, nose tackle Jordon Scott took ownership for his performance and the defense as a whole. This position is vitally important to stopping the run by controlling the A-gaps. Giving up 174 rush yards to a running back who came into last Saturday totaling 160 on the season is not a good look for this Oregon defense.
If you flashback to that game against the Washington Huskies at Autzen, there was a play when Scott took on pretty much the entire Washington offensive line but still contained the run. Oregon must get back to those old ways.
“He is going to be tough on himself, he is going to be very critical of himself because he has a lot of pride,” says Cristobal of Scott. “I trust that he will get back to form and I think it shows a lot about a young man when he can own up and say ‘I want to play better’. My response to him is we’re going to coach you better.”
Thank you seniors
This Saturday the Ducks will be honoring this senior class and all they have done for the Oregon football program. Some of these guys have been through three head coaching changes, have tasted a National Championship, have won a Rose Bowl, and have been through the slumps.
“They’ve been through a lot, they’ve seen a lot,” says Cristobal. “I’ve been a player when there is a coaching change and I’ve seen a lot of guys grow, a lot of guys change, and the importance of when you are a senior, you can set the tone. You can really set the table for those who come after you. You have a chance to create your own legacy.”
Wilkins and Harry and Benjamin OH MY
With the Pac-12 South division being a jumbled mess, the Arizona State Sun Devils have found their way to the top in a tight race. They currently sit in second behind Utah. But their offensive powerhouse trio of QB Manny Wilkins, WR N’Keal Harry, and RB Eno Benjamin have proven each game to be dominant. And that is something of concern for the Ducks with the struggling run defense and young secondary.
When asked about these offensive weapons being the toughest challenges for the Ducks this season, Cristobal responded with “Without question.”
“Manny Wilkins, his development as a quarterback for two straight years, is incredible,” says Cristobal. “He makes the right decisions and the ball is out quick… He doesn’t hesitate to run you over when he has to…. As far as the receiver position, that [Harry] is about as good as you’ll get in the country. I don’t think their offensive line gets enough credit. Those guys have done an excellent job opening up holes for Benjamin.”