Oregon Ducks

Why Justin Herbert stayed at Oregon

Why Justin Herbert stayed at Oregon

It’s 2019... The Oregon Ducks are in rebuilding mode and starting quarterback is a three-person position battle between junior Braxton Burmeister, sophomore Tyler Shough and incoming freshman Cale Millen.

That could have been the reality.

Instead, quarterback Justin Herbert decided to forgo the 2019 NFL Draft and stay at Oregon for his senior season, he announced Wednesday. The return of the 6-foot-6, 233-pound passer with the powerful right arm and sneaky fast wheels means the Ducks likely return all 11 starters on offense.

As a projected top 10 draft pick, why resist the NFL and give up literally millions of dollars? As Herbert said, “Nothing could pull me away from the opportunities that we have in front of us.”

What opportunities? Let’s dive in.  

Shot at a Pac-12 Conference title and possible chance at the College Football Playoff

Oregon’s 2019 schedule is not easy but Herbert’s return gives Oregon a shot to win the Pac-12 conference and possibly become a college football playoff contender.

The Ducks play on the road against Auburn, Stanford, USC and Washington next season.
However, Oregon returns a veteran offensive line, running back weapons CJ Verdell and Travis Dye, and an influx of young talent at receiver.

In 2018, Oregon ranked second in the Pac-12 in scoring and third in total offense. With Herbert’s help, the Ducks’ offensive attack should improve.

Herbert’s return also may influence draft-eligible juniors that were considering declaring for the NFL like linebacker Troy Dye, wide receiver Dillon Mitchell and offensive lineman Shane Lemieux.

The 2019 conference championship dream is alive, but Oregon will need to capitalize on its continuity (second year under coach Mario Cristobal), figure out its offensive identity under play caller Marcus Arroyo and improve it total defense that ranks 62nd in the nation.

Herbert’s legacy

Herbert’s decision to return will change the course of his legacy left at Oregon. A once dark horse Heisman Trophy candidate, he wasn’t even an All-Pac-12 honorable mention pick in 2018.

2019 will be his chance to improve his 16-9 record as a starter. Also, Herbert can rise up in the record books: he currently ranks third in school history for career touchdown passes (62), third in completion percentage (62.7) and sixth in passing yards (6,904).

The Eugene, Ore., native is just 96 yards away from reaching 7,000 career passing yards to go along with 62 touchdowns. He has thrown a touchdown pass in 27 consecutive games, good for the longest current streak in the nation.

Growing up as a Ducks fan, Herbert watched Oregon win its last conference championship in 2014 after another Duck quarterback decided to return for his redshirt junior season. That quarterback was Marcus Mariota and he won the program’s first Heisman Trophy, led Oregon to a Pac-12 title, a Rose Bowl victory and a trip to the National Championship game.

Returning for his senior season gave Herbert the opportunity to lead the Ducks back to national prominence, cementing his legacy in the Oregon football history books.

Herbert to Herbert

Herbert will have a chance to play with his younger brother Patrick Herbert, a four-star tight end who signed with the Ducks earlier this month. The lone in-state prospect sent out a tweet with the news of his brother returning.

At 6-foot-5, 225-pounds, Herbert’s strength is catching the ball in traffic. You could be hearing a lot of “Herbert to Herbert” ringing through Autzen Stadium.

Improve as an NFL prospect

Herbert joins a group of quarterbacks that decided to come back for senior seasons despite first-round projections: Mariota, Andrew Luck and Matt Barkley. The decision worked out well for Luck and Mariota, who still were drafted one and two, respectively. Barkley slid to the fourth round after in part thanks to a shoulder injury.

Earlier this month I asked Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller what his official advice would be to Herbert. Miller advised that the junior should declare for the draft because he can’t dramatically improve his stock by returning. Miller had no doubt that Herbert could improve as a player with another year of college football, but that it’s unlikely it would result in him being drafted any higher.

Miller did give insight that there are numerous reports about regarding Herbert as mentally weak, weird or immature. The mental aspect is one area that Herbert could improve on to help his NFL stock.

As well as the obvious risk of injury.

A possible Pac-12 title, trip to the college football playoff, Herbert’s legacy cemented, playing alongside his brother, improving his NFL draft stock…The reality is that Herbert decided Oregon’s 2019 opportunities were worth more than 30 million dollars.

Sabrina Ionescu pens letter to Oregon: ‘Let’s go take that unfinished business and finish it’

Sabrina Ionescu pens letter to Oregon: ‘Let’s go take that unfinished business and finish it’

Sabrina Ionescu could have chosen any day to write a letter to the Ducks community. 

But Monday, February 24 won’t go down as just any day for the Oregon women’s basketball star. It’s the day a public memorial will be held at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles for Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, who were among nine killed in a tragic helicopter accident last month. 

Ionescu is expected to speak at the service before catching a flight north to rejoin her teammates in Palo Alto for a game against No. 4 Stanford. 

In a letter with The Players’ Tribune, Ionescu opened up about her decision to remain at Oregon to help build something special, and how without words, Kobe made it clear she had made the right decision. 

He saw the pressure that we were about to face this year as a privilege. A challenge to overcome. And the fact that it was scary to me at first?? He saw that as an opportunity. Harnessing your fear as an opportunity to learn something new about yourself — that’s Mamba Mentality 101. And I took it to heart.

Ionescu harnessed that Mamba Mentality this season with her Ducks team, who currently sit No. 3 in the women’s college basketball rankings. They’ve overcome a lot of challenges: shocking team USA, beating UConn and sweeping Oregon State. 

But no matter how the season finishes, Ionescu is proud of what she’s helped build at Oregon and the community who has rallied around her since the very beginning. 

It’s been a year I’ll remember forever, but it’s also been bittersweet. Because on one hand, I’m sitting here writing you this letter, Ducks Nation, and I’m so proud of everything we’ve accomplished together. I’m so proud of how we’ve met our expectations head-on, and contended for another Pac-12 title, and — even with this high-pressure target on our back — stayed right near the top of the polls all season long. I’m so proud of how we’ve put ourselves in the perfect position to reach our second straight Final Four, and beyond.

Ionescu will take the next step of her basketball journey without one of her biggest mentors, but she knows their two paths crossed for a reason. 

“Kobe always saw the bigger picture,” Ionsecu wrote. “That was clear with everything he did in his life — but to me it was especially clear with the way that he looked at and treated the game of women’s basketball. He didn’t see growing the game with girls as his hobby, or as some side project, or as a charity case. He saw it as a movement. And he didn’t get involved because he just wanted to be a fan of our movement. He got involved because he wanted to be a part of it.”

While the world mourns the loss of Bryant, Ionescu knows what Kobe and others have instilled in her is so much more than Mamba Mentality for girls, it’s Mamba Mentality, period. 

Oregon has a must-win game against No. 4 Stanford on Monday to clinch its third-straight Pac-12 title. If the Ducks come away victorious, Oregon will have the top seed heading into the Pac-12 Tournament. 

As Ionescu knows, there’s still a lot of work to be done. 

“Let’s go take that unfinished business and finish it.”

NFL Combine profile: Oregon QB Justin Herbert

NFL Combine profile: Oregon QB Justin Herbert

Justin Herbert

Position: Quarterback
Year: Senior 
Hometown: Eugene, Oregon

Measurables: 

Height: 6’6 2/8" 

Weight: 236 pounds

Hand: 10"

Overview

When quarterback Justin Herbert chose to forgo the NFL Draft in 2019 and return to Oregon for his senior year: his aspirations were clear. He had unfinished business with the Ducks.

One year later, Herbert is one of the premier quarterbacks in the illustrious 2020 NFL Draft class and is coming off a stellar finish to his four years with the Ducks. The Eugene native led Oregon to a 12-2 record, a Pac-12 championship and a Rose Bowl victory. The pre-draft process is off to a solid start for the 6-foot-6, 225 pound quarterback, who was named Senior Bowl MVP.

Herbert has all the tools needed to become a franchise quarterback, but presents some consistency issues that we will talk about below that bring concern to NFL scouts.

Draft projections

Most mock drafts have Herbert as the third quarterback to be selected in the NFL draft class. Pro Football Focus, NFL.com's Bucky Brooks, Sporting News, Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller and CBS Sports’ Ryan Wilson all believe Herbert will be selected with the No. 6 overall pick held by the Los Angeles Chargers.

NFL comparison:

Andrew Luck and John Elway

Strengths

- Protypical size
- High football IQ (4.01 GPA)
- Big time arm with quick release
- Pocket presence
- Ability to use his legs

Weaknesses

- Doesn’t keep his eyes up to extend plays
- Inaccurate throws due to improper setting of feet
- Oregon’s first-read offense limited the amount of progressions to one side of the field for Herbert

Did Payton Pritchard just lock up the Pac-12 Player of the Year award?

Did Payton Pritchard just lock up the Pac-12 Player of the Year award?

Payton Pritchard is on another level this season.

The Portland-native from West Linn High School is averaging 20.1 points 5.5 assists and 4.4 rebounds in his senior season for the Ducks.

On Saturday against the Arizona Wildcats, Pritchard carried the Ducks in regulation dropping a new career-high 38 points in Tucson. He shot 12-for-27 from the field, 6-for-14 from 3-PT range, a perfect 8-for-8 from the FT line as well as dishing out six assists and grabbing four rebounds.

It was a miraculous performance.

But it begged the question: did this performance lock Pritchard in for the Pac-12 Player of the Year award?

Many on social media think so...

Another name in Pac-12 POY contention is Arizona State's Remy Martin, who is averaging 17.9 points, 4.1 assists and 3.6 rebounds this season for the first place Sun Devils. 

The conference awards are released before the Pac-12 Tournament. 

Instant Analysis: Payton Pritchard drops new career-high in OT win vs. Arizona

Instant Analysis: Payton Pritchard drops new career-high in OT win vs. Arizona

It is a tight race at the top of the Pac-12 standings with four teams tied for first and the Oregon Ducks just half a game out of first. Coming off a loss at Arizona State on Thursday night, the Ducks were going to need every bit of offense and a valiant effort on defense against the Arizona Wildcats in Tucson on Saturday.

Well, the offense was there, but only from Payton Pritchard, who dropped a new career-high 38 points. 

Arizona’s Josh Green missed two free throws with five seconds left and this game was headed for overtime (the second time this season these two teams needed overtime to determine a winner).

In overtime, all nine points came from Shakur Juiston. That took immense pressure off of Pritchard on the offensive end. An offensive rebound from Will Richardson and drive to his left drew two Arizona players leaving Juiston open under the basket for a layup that put Oregon up by one with 1.4 seconds left. Game over.

No. 14 Oregon (21-7, 10-5 Pac-12) survives in OT over No. 24 Arizona (19-8, 9-5 Pac-12) and moves into a tie for second in the Pac-12 conference standings with UCLA and No. 18 Colorado.

FINAL SCORE (OT): Oregon 73, Arizona 72 

Here are three quick takeaways from the game:

1. BIG TIME PRITCHARD

Payton Pritchard opened up the game with a three-pointer, and then scored the next four points for Oregon. He scored 10 of Oregon’s first 13 points.

“It’s like having Steph Curry on your team,” said Bill Walton on the call.

Well, maybe not exactly but Pritchard was feeling it tonight. He pored in a new career high 38 points hitting 12-of-27 from the field and 6-of-14 from 3-PT range.

He scored just under half of Oregon’s total points.

Pritchard is averaging 19.4 points, 5.6 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game in his senior season.

2. ANTHONY MATHIS

Head coach Dana Altman has a big weapon in Anthony Mathis coming off the bench. Mathis has the ability to hit the outside shot and when he does, feed him the ball. Against Arizona, he and Pritchard kept Oregon in the game early hitting 3-of-5 from 3-PT range in the first half and finished with 11 points.

Mathis Pritchard were the only two Ducks to finish in double figures in regulation time. 

3. OVERTIME JUISTON

Redshirt senior Shakur Juiston just needed an overtime period to get it going on the offensive end. Before overtime, he recorded just five points, but score all of Oregon’s points in overtime (9) and finished with 14.

Arizona went 10-for-21 from the free throw line, including missing two late in regulation and missing two with one second left in overtime.

UP NEXT: It’s Civil War part two against rival Oregon State (15-12, 5-10 Pac-12) on Thursday, Feb. 27 at 8 p.m. (PT) at Matthew Knight Arena.

Oregon football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball a perfect home record for full calendar year

Oregon football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball a perfect home record for full calendar year

Eugene, Oregon. A place that is quiet, surrounded by lush trees and roaring rivers, where you can find weird donuts and plenty of lumber.

It's also a place where opposing teams come to lose.

Autzen Stadium, home of Oregon football, is one of the loudest if not THE loudest stadium in the Pac-12 featuring sold out after sold out crowds. The stadium seats 54,000 which doesn’t include staying room tickets sold.

The last time Oregon football lost at home was vs. Stanford on September 22, 2018 (38-31 in OT).

Across the river is Matthew Knight Arena, home to Oregon men’s and women’s basketball. The arena seats 12,364. 

The last time Oregon men’s basketball lost at home was vs. Washington in Pac-12 conference play on January 24, 2019 (61-56).

The last time Oregon women’s basketball lost at home was exactly one year ago to UCLA on February 22 (74-69).

These three programs are a combined 39-0 in the past calendar year.

Home court/field advantage is for real and especially in Eugene.

Oregon fans love their Ducks!

Stephen Curry praises Sabrina Ionescu's passion: "It’s in her eyes"

Stephen Curry praises Sabrina Ionescu's passion: "It’s in her eyes"

The No. 4 Oregon Ducks picked up a dominant win over Cal in the Bay Area Friday night.

Among those in attendance to see the Ducks 93-61 win and to witness Sabrina Ionescu's 25th triple-double was Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry. 

With him were his daughters Riley and Ryan. 

After the game, Ionescu and the Curry's greeted each other. 

In an interview with the Pac-12 Network, Curry says he's known about the Walnut Creek native since her junior year in high school. 

The two have connected before, with Ionescu showing up to the Moda Center during the Trail Blazers playoff run in a Curry jersey. 

"Shoutout to the walking triple dub," Curry wrote on social media. 

They are fans of each other and their respective games. 

"Every night, she just appreciates being out on the floor and bringing it," Curry told the Pac-12 Network. "It’s how she makes her teammates better. It’s the little things like that. Triple doubles are nice, too, but she just has it all." 

When you see her on the floor, stats may mean a lot but when you watch somebody and the passion that she brings. It’s in her eyes and the competitive nature that she had, you can’t teach that. -- Stephen Curry

Sabrina could accomplish a feat no other college basketball player has accomplished: 2K points, 1K rebounds and 1K assists by this weekend.

She's just nine rebounds away. 

Curry made sure to take time with the whole team afterwards, too, posing for photos. 

Curry's daughters have gotten a lot of exposure to basketball in their lives, so far. But, will they be nudged to play?

"I don’t know if they will play basketball or not," Curry said. 

"But if they do, I’ll put on some Sabrina Ionescu clips and be like, ‘this is how you play the game’."

Sabrina Ionescu records 25th triple-double in front of Steph Curry and daughters Riley, Ryan

Sabrina Ionescu records 25th triple-double in front of Steph Curry and daughters Riley, Ryan

It seems that wherever Sabrina Ionescu goes, she has fans.

If you notice when the Oregon women's basketball team travels on away games, there is always a decent crowd supporting the Ducks. You can easily spot that candy apple green #20 jersey in the crowd.

There was a standing ovation as Ionescu checked out of the game midway through the fourth quarter vs. the Cal Golden Bears, having just notched her 25th career triple-double. It was a bit of a homecoming game for the Walnut Creek native.

The applause was not just from Oregon fans but also from one NBA player in attendance: Steph Curry, and his two daughters Riley and Ryan.

Curry and Ionescu are long-time friends. He has raved about her before and the two make it a point to exchange jerseys or see one another when the opportunity presents itself. Ionescu was at Moda Center last season with the Golden State Warriors in town to face the Portland Trail Blazers.

And on an off night for the Warriors, Curry made it a point to attend and take his daughters (potential future WNBA stars who look up to Ionescu) with the Ducks in town to face the Bears.

The G.O.A.T. recorded 17 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in the big win over Cal, but up next is a date with the No. 4 Stanford Cardinal on Monday night where Oregon will once again need the best from Ionescu.

Instant Analysis: Oregon Ducks dominant, achieve milestones in win

Instant Analysis: Oregon Ducks dominant, achieve milestones in win

The Oregon women's basketball program is on a mission and no one is going to get in their way. The Ducks latest victim came by way of a 93-61 win over Cal Friday Night in Berkeley.

The Cal Golden Bears started off in a 1-3-1 defensive zone. Oregon worked the ball around the perimeter eventually finding Sabrina Ionescu and she drilled the three-point shot. The first five field goals were from five different players and Oregon went on a 9-0 run in less than a minute.

Not a bad start and it didn’t end there. 

This set the tone for the rest of the way for the No. 3 Oregon Ducks (25-2, 14-1 Pac-12) taking care of business on the road at Cal (10-16, 2-13 Pac-12) led by another triple-double from the queen, Sabrina Ionescu.

FINAL SCORE: Oregon 93, Cal 61

Here are three quick takeaways from the game:

1. HAVE MERCY ERIN BOLEY

You know the Ducks are going to score. The offensive weapons are just too good. You know you’re really in trouble when Erin Boley finds her rhythm from behind the arc.

Boley hit six three-pointers in the first half alone and finished 8-for-9 on the night.

The 6-foot-2 junior is shooting .406 from 3-PT land this season.

2. BEST QUARTER IN OREGON WBB HISTORY?

At the end of the first quarter, the Ducks were ahead but not by much, 23-19. By the end of the second quarter, the score was 46-28.

Oregon went on an 18-0 run in second quarter led by the hot hand of Erin Boley hitting 6-for-7 from three-point range in the first half.  Cal’s first basket came at the 3:19 mark. Oregon outscored Cal 24-9 in the quarter.

3. ANOTHER TRIPLE-DOUBLE FOR THE QUEEN

Sabrina Ionescu was on triple-double watch at halftime. 

She recorded her 25th career triple-double finishing with 17 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists.

Ionescu is nine rebounds shy of becoming the first player in NCAA history to record 2,000+ points, 1,000+ rebounds and 1,000+ assists in her collegiate career.

With her eight point on the night, Ruthy Hebard moved into second on Oregon's all-time scoring list. Hebard finished with 20 points and 15 rebounds vs. Cal.

UP NEXT: A top-5 matchup between No. 3 Oregon at No. 4 Stanford on Monday night in Palo Alto, Calif.

Ruthy Hebard moves to second on Oregon's All-Time scoring list behind Sabrina Ionescu

Ruthy Hebard moves to second on Oregon's All-Time scoring list behind Sabrina Ionescu

Your eyes are not deceiving you when you are searching Oregon women's basketball record books. Right now, the majority of the records belong to two women. 

Sabrina Ionescu being one, but Ruthy Hebard is surging right behind her.

With her eighth point on Friday night, Hebard has passed Alison Lang (2,252, 1980-84) on Oregon's All-Time scoring list.

Number one on that list? Sabrina Ionescu.

It has been another dominant season for this dynamic duo.

Hebard is coming off a 52-point weekend against UCLA and USC where she averaged a double-double: 26.0 points and 13.5 rebounds.

The 6-foot-4 forward is averaging 17.2 points and 9.6 rebounds in her senior season.

The No. 3 Oregon Ducks (24-2, 13-1) are currently playing on the road against the Cal Golden Bears in Berkeley, Calif.