Oregon makes a stand, blows out Arizona State

Oregon makes a stand, blows out Arizona State

Oregon opened its final Pac-12 Conference home stand with energy, high intensity and a 79-51 victory over Arizona State.

The Sun Devils (19-8, 10-5) were second in Pac-12 standings and have never won at Matthew Knight Arena (0-6).

Freshman Louis King led UO with 19 points. The 6-foot-9 guard has scored in double-figures in 14 of 15 Pac-12 games this season.

Junior Payton Pritchard (18 points) and redshirt senior Ehab Amin (11 points) made big offensive contributions. Freshman Francis Okoro also had a solid game, finishing with seven points and a career-high 10 rebounds.

The Ducks (16-12, 7-8) gained valuable experience and confidence by gutting out a win at home to snap a three game losing streak, once again proving that anyone can beat anyone in the conference.

Earlier in the week senior Paul White told reporters that he felt his team has not reached its full potential yet, “I am hoping we can work toward that and everyone will be clicking on the same page.”

Arizona State did not score in the first six minutes of the second half. The Sun Devils struggled from beyond the arc, going 3-of-23. Oregon outrebounded ASU, 44-26.

Off the bench, Ehab Amin (11 points) and Will Richardson (7 points) combined to give help give Oregon an edge in bench points, 24-to-10.

Oregon showed great ball movement, 50-50 ball fight and excellent rebounding. Most of all, the Ducks showed fight with the Pac-12 Tournament looming. The Ducks host Arizona on Saturday, March 2 at 7 p.m.

Does the good outweigh the bad in Oregon's victory over ASU?

Does the good outweigh the bad in Oregon's victory over ASU?

Did the good outweigh the bad in Oregon’s 31-29 victory over Arizona State in its home finale? You be the judge.

BEST

Seven wins: With two games remaining, Oregon’s victory over ASU matched its 2017 win total with its seventh victory. The Ducks improved to 7-4 overall and 4-4 in Pac-12 conference play.

First half success: After a month of slow starts, Oregon’s offense hit the ground running. The Ducks scored on a 78-yard opening drive, 74 of those yards came on the ground. UO’s 28 first-half points were the most scored by the Ducks since their second nonconference game vs. Portland State. Oregon’s 364 total yards of total offense in the first half were its most in a half this season.

Come at me, bro: The Sun Devils went at Oregon's young cornerbacks Thomas Graham and Deommodore Lenoir all game long. Graham Jr. covered one of the best wide receivers in the nation, ASU’s N'Keal Harry, most of the night and recorded a career-high six pass breakups. Lenoir also had three pass breakups, two of which came while defending Harry.

Gus comes up big: Oregon defensive lineman Gus Cumberlander had a huge impact on the game. He recorded a career high two sacks, the first Oregon player with two or more sacks in a game this season. He also recovered a fumble after when outside linebacker La’Mar Winston Jr. strip-sacked ASU QB Manny Wilkins on ASU’s final drive to seal the win.

Hello record books: Wide receiver Dillon Mitchell broke tackles and made Sun Devils miss in space to reach 103 receiving yards, averaging 26 yards per catch. The junior’s six 100-yard game ties Oregon’s single-season record (Josh Huff 2013).

Freshmen shouldering a big load: CJ Verdell played Mr. Versatile. Verdell scored a rushing and receiving touchdown, his first touchdown catch of his career. Travis Dye showed off his cuts and spin moves to lead the Ducks on the ground, averaging 5.8 yards per carry, totaling 105 yards on 18 carries.

WORST

Second half blunder: Oregon’s offense couldn’t move the ball in the last 30 minutes, almost causing the Ducks to lose the game. Herbert passed for only 13 yards in the half, the team only gained 85 overall yards, and scored three points.

Turnovers: 17 of ASU’s 29 points came off of Oregon’s four turnovers: Herbert threw two interceptions, Ugo Amadi mishandled a punt return and Tony Brooks-James fumbled.

Injuries: According to Oregon coach Mario Cristobal, CJ Verdell is good to go after taking a "shot to the rib area" that took him out vs. ASU. Kano Dillon is "probable" after missing last week with strained ab. Steve Jones (concussion protocol) will be cleared or not on Tuesday. Penei Sewell (ankle) will not return for Saturday but could be cleared for the bowl game.  

Ready or not, it’s Civil War week! Oregon faces the Oregon State (2-9, 1-7) in Corvallis on Friday, Nov. 23 at 1 p.m. 

Here's where to watch and stream Oregon football vs. Arizona State

Here's where to watch and stream Oregon football vs. Arizona State

Oregon’s final game at Autzen Stadium will be an after dark special vs. Arizona State at 7:30 p.m. A win would match Oregon’s win total (six) from 2017. Here is coverage and how to watch the game...

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NBC Sports Northwest, 7:30 p.m. Friday: Talkin' Ducks

  • With Jordan Kent, Joey Harrington, Aaron Fentress and Bri Amaranthus

Pac-12 Networks, 7:30 p.m. PT Saturday: Oregon vs. Arizona State  kickoff

Radio: 1080 "The Fan" in Portland, KUGN-AM 590 in Eugene

Live stream: https://pac-12.com/live

GET READY FOR THE GAME:

Two games left, what are Oregon's possible bowl game destinations?

On senior day, the Ducks are counting on a true freshman; Travis Dye

How Oregon can win its home finale

Cristobal “formidable” in hypothetical Pac-12 coaches brawl, according to Leach

Streaks and stats you need to know: Oregon vs. ASU

On senior day, the Ducks are counting on a true freshman; Travis Dye

On senior day, the Ducks are counting on a true freshman; Travis Dye

No jokes. No frills. No gloves…?

Picture a 1970s or 80s running back, maybe at Green Bay in the snow; a workhorse scraping and crawling for yards on the ground.

According to junior offensive lineman Shane Lemieux, that’s what true freshman Travis Dye is like.

Dye is the younger brother of Oregon’s star linebacker junior Troy Dye, but he jokes around a lot less than his “class clown” brother.

"Travis is an example of you go your career coaching and you'll have a few true freshmen that right away are mature enough to handle that pressure," offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo said. "I think him having grown up with Troy a little bit and his upbringing, they've done a really nice job… I think his maturity has showed.”

Dye enrolled early in January and has become Oregon’s No. 2 running back, behind CJ Verdell. However, this Saturday on senior day at Autzen Stadium, the 18-year-old may be asked to shoulder a bigger load due to the Ducks’ depleted depth chart.

Verdell’s and Cyrus Habibi-Likio’s status is unclear, after suffering a neck sprain and quad contusion at Utah, respectfully.

At Utah, Dye had the longest run of 18 yards and finished leading the team with 66 yards on nine carries. The best game of his excellent freshman season came at California; leading the Ducks’ rushing attack with 18 carries for 115 yards, including a 45-yard touchdown.

Among Pac-12 freshmen, Dye ranks in rushing yards (417) and rushing yards per game (41.7). Adding to his 83 carries and two rushing touchdowns, he also has 10 completions for 73 yards and one touchdown.

UO quarterback Justin Herbert complimented Dye on his route running and pass blocking. Dye has also impressed Lemieux.

“(Travis has) a mental capacity almost like a redshirt junior or senior would have,” said Lemieux. “He understands the ins and outs of defensive scheme, pass protections, where to hit the holes and how to be patient behind the blocks.”

Another major strength for Dye is his shiftiness and ability to run hard without hesitation. At 5-foot-10, 200-pounds, Dye has worked hard this season on breaking tackles and making defenders miss.

“I can’t get tackled by one guy,” Dye said.

This Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Dye will face a surging Sun Devils (6-4, 4-3) team that is looking for their fourth straight win to keep their Pac-12 South division title dreams alive.

Arroyo’s game plan is to pound the rock against an Arizona’s rushing defense that ranks 56th in the nation and allows an average of 153 rushing yards per game. In their last three losses (Washington State, Arizona and Utah), the Ducks have averaged just 86.3 yards per game.

If Troy is most likely to be Oregon’s class clown, what is Travis most likely to do?

“Score a touchdown,” Travis said.

With two conference games remaining, the Ducks (6-4, 3-4 Pac-12) are counting on it.

What exactly is it that the Ducks are trying to do on offense?

What exactly is it that the Ducks are trying to do on offense?

Oregon's 37-35 loss at Arizona State Saturday night was one big, hot mess.

A lot of things went wrong, plenty of mistakes were made and there was blame enough to go around. But I came away from the game amazed at how much improvement Oregon has made on the defensive side of the ball. And also wondering just what in the world the Ducks are attempting to do on offense.

First, the defense. This is a far cry from the group last season that couldn't tackle consistently and was seemingly out of position all night. The Ducks this season are organized and most often in the right position to make plays, even though -- like all college defenses this side of Alabama -- they don't always make them. They even covered receivers one-on-one pretty well when it mattered. Sure, you'll say, they gave up 37 points Saturday night to the Sun Devils.

Of course they did. A lot of that was because of the inconsistent and sometimes even inept offense. Oregon's offensive failings kept its defense on the field for 38:06 of the game. The Oregon offense managed just 21:54 of playing time. That's awful. And folks, don't blame Oregon's uptempo offense. ASU was not huddling, either.

I just don't understand what it is the Ducks want to do with the ball. Going into the game at Tempe, I assumed this was a team that was going to hang its hat on a power running game, running downhill behind powerful Royce Freeman. Well, where did that go?

Freeman averaged 5.4 yards per carry but ran the ball only 15 times. Oregon attempted only 30 rushing plays and 10 of those were assigned to quarterback Justin Herbert. Please tell me why on earth the Ducks didn't come out and establish their running game?

It seemed to me that once Oregon fell behind it panicked a bit and began to lose patience with the run game. And I will say, this is not exactly the most diverse offense Oregon has put on the field over the last decade. There was not a lot of deception or variation. There is a lack of creativity.

And a couple of other things, while I'm at it:

Going 1 for 11 on third down with all the offensive talent Oregon has in the backfield is just crazy. Most of that was because there were way too many long-yardage situations on third down. Too many times when Herbert had to pass on third-and-long and everyone knew it.

And yes, 14 penalties is ridiculous. And just an obvious point -- penalties are a direct result of coaching. Or lack of it. You can talk all you want about cleaning that up, but the bottom line isn't talking, it's doing. It's been a problem all season and that's on the coaches.

Lastly, Oregon had two cracks late in the game at running a two-minute offense and looked sadly unprepared to do so. I'm shocked that Herbert wasn't able to work the ball down the field at least close enough for a long field goal. He's too good back there not to be able to do that. Yes, Oregon's receiving corps is decimated and seemingly lacking in speed. But the Ducks either couldn't protect Herbert or he was having trouble judging where his receivers would be when he cut the ball loose. The defense got late stops when needed and the offense just couldn't even get close to paying it off.

So Oregon may be at a point where the defense is more reliable than the offense.

Who saw that coming?

A healthy Pagano will help UO in Pac-12 play, beginning with ASU

A healthy Pagano will help UO in Pac-12 play, beginning with ASU

Oregon graduate transfer Scott Pagano has returned to action just in time to help the No. 24 Ducks take on the high-scoring teams in the Pac-12 Conference. 

Pagano, who missed the first two games after undergoing foot surgery to repair a broken bone, saw minimal playing time on Saturday during Oregon's 49-13 win at Wisconsin. He did not record a tackle. 

“He did alright the times that I did see him," UO coach Willie Taggart said following the game. "We knew there was going to be some rust to get off. But it’s good to get him to get some game experience before we get into Pac-12 play.”

Oregon's defense is off to a strong start. But the addition of Pagano as a graduate transfer from Clemson, which won last season's national title, was met with glee for a reason. He is the best defensive lineman on the team. Having him healthy for Pac-12 play will be a must if the Ducks' defense is going to stand up to the test of facing strong offenses on a weekly basis. 

A fully healthy Pagano, however, could be weeks away for Oregon (3-0).

“I’m still not where I want to be right now,” Pagano said following Saturday's game.

Pagano estimated that is foot was at about 75 to 80 percent healthy. The plan is for him to play as much as he can without hindering the healing progress. When his foot begins to bother him, Pagano said, he would scale back his reps. 

Senior safety Tyree Robinson said Pagano's mere presence has been a boost to the team given that all of the Ducks players know where he has been and what he can do. Taggart said that Pagano still must get into football shape and that UO hopes to increase his repetitions each week.

For Pagano, transferring from Clemson to Oregon, which played so poorly on defense last season, was helped along by the presence of the new coaching staff under Taggart. He called Joe Salave'a the best defensive line coach in the country and said that he saw signs of things looking up while watching a spring practice. Pagano said he could tell that the team was buying into what new defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt was selling.

The Duck are allowing just 23 points per game after surrendering 41.7 last year. 

“I knew we were going to have a great defense,” Pagano said. “I knew I wanted to play with a team like this."

Next up for Oregon is Arizona State (1-2). The Sun Devils are off to a slow start but have far more speed and weapons on offense than every opponent Oregon has faced this season. 

"This is going to be the most athletic team we've faced so far, by far," Taggart said. 

Here is a quick look at the matchup:

Oregon at Arizona State

When: 7 p.m., Saturday, Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Ariz. 

T.V.: Pac-12 Networks. 

Betting line: Oregon minus 14 1/2.

Records: Oregon (3-0), Arizona State (1-2).

Last week: The Sun Devils lost 52-45 at Texas Tech. Oregon won 49-13 at Wyoming. 

Coaches: Ducks' Willie Taggart (43-45, 3-0 at Oregon); Sun Devils' Todd Graham (89-57, 40-28 at ASU).

Sun Devils' impact players: Quarterback Manny Wilkins is off to a pretty hot start, averaging 308 yards passing with seven touchdown tosses and has yet to throw an interception. He has completed 68.3 percent of his passes. Wilkins, a redshirt junior, was the No. 6-rated dual-threat quarterback in the nation when he came out of high school in 2014.

"This will be the first time we've had a good mobile quarterback that we've had to go against," Taggart said. 

Senior running back Kalen Ballage has rushed for 179 yards and four touchdowns but is averaging just 3.7 yards per carry. 

Sophomore wide receiver N'Keal Harry is Wilkins' top target. The 6-foot-4 Harry has caught 24 passes for 266 yards and two touchdowns. 

ASU's defense is led statistically by two freshmen. Defensive end Jojo Wicker has three sacks on the season and linebacker D.J. Calhoun is averaging 10.3 tackles per game. 

Fear factor (five-point scale): 3.5.  It's a road game. It's a conference game. It's against what will be by far the best offense the Ducks have faced this season. There's a lot to be worried about for Oregon. However, ASU is about as bad on defense as the Ducks were last season. If the Ducks take care of the football they would once again surpass 40 points. We will know after this game if UO's defense truly has bite if it can keep the Sun Devils in check. 

Early pick: Oregon, 47-33. Oregon's defense will be challenged but it won't give up enough points to waste what should be a strong showing by the Ducks' offense. 

Oregon pulls away in second half, wins 80-57 over Arizona State

Oregon pulls away in second half, wins 80-57 over Arizona State

Oregon 80, Arizona State 57

How Oregon won: No. 8-seeded Arizona State (15-18) hung tough with No. 1-seeded Oregon (28-4) during the first half of their second-round matchup in the Pac-12 Tournament Thursday afternoon at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nev. But in the second half, the Ducks put an end to any thoughts of a repeat of the team's 71-70 meeting that UO pulled out at home out on Feb. 2. 

The Ducks dominated the second half of play from the get go, jumping out to a 16-point lead and then cruising from there.

ASU guard Torian Graham scored 32 points on 12-of-12 shooting but he prove to be no match for Oregon's overall team game. The Ducks shot 49.2 percent from the field while ASU shot 31.1.  Player not named Graham made just seven of 36 field goals. 

What it means: The Ducks advance to the semi-finals and another step closer to a possible championship game showdown against either No. 2-seeded Arizona (27-4) or No. 3-seeded UCLA (28-3) on Saturday night. 

Key sequence: Oregon took control of the game early in the second half. Leading just 34-31 at the break, the Ducks went on an 18-5 run to go up 52-36 with 13:04 remaining. Igniting the run was sophomore guard Tyler Dorsey. He had two strong drives to the basket for layups before senior guard Dylan Ennis made a three to give UO a 45-33 lead. A few possessions later, Dorsey moved to the basket, drew some attention from ASU defenders who ignored senior forward Chris Boucher underneath. Dorsey read the defense, dumped the ball off to Boucher who threw down an easy dunk to give the Ducks a 52-36 lead. 

High-flying Ducks: Dorsey had a great all-around game with 21 points, nine rebounds and four assists. He made 8 of 14 shot attempts, but did miss four of five from three-point range.

Junior forward Dillon Brooks had 22 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Ennis shot poorly, making just 3 of 10 shot attempts, but he did have 12 rebounds and five assists. 

Fowl play: Oregon shot a mediocre 63.2 percent from the free throw line (12 of 19).

Up next: Oregon will face the winner of today's game between No. 5-seeded California (20-11) and No. 4-seeded Utah (20-10) tomorrow night at 6 p.m. 

Oregon to face Arizona State following Sun Devils' 98-88 OT win over Stanford

Oregon to face Arizona State following Sun Devils' 98-88 OT win over Stanford

LAS VEGAS - Arizona State, the No. 8-seed in the Pac-12 Tournament, defeated No. 9-seed Stanford 98-88 in overtime today during the first round to set up a second-round matchup with No. 1-seed Oregon at noon on Thursday at T-Mobile Arena.

The No. 5-ranked Ducks (27-4) should be a bit leery of the Sun Devils (15-17) given that UO narrowly defeated ASU 71-70 at home on Jan. 21.

On Tuesday, Oregon coach Dana Altman talked about the challenges ASU poses and about how important it is to Oregon to win the Pac-12 Tournament. 

In the last meeting between ASU and UO, the Ducks needed junior forward Dillon Brooks, recently named Pac-12 player of the year, to score the team's final 12 points in order to pull out the win. Brooks finished the game with 27.

Oregon on that night had trouble with ASU junior guard Shannon Evans II. He finished with 28 points on 10-of-16 shooting. Against Stanford Evans had 16 points while senior forward Obinna Oleka scored a game-high 27 with 13 rebounds.