auburn football

Oregon Ducks fall five spots in Top 25 after loss to Auburn

Oregon Ducks fall five spots in Top 25 after loss to Auburn

The Oregon Ducks (0-1) fell from No. 11 to No. 16 in the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll, after losing to then-No. 16 Auburn at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. The Tigers moved up to No. 10.

Oregon also dropped five spots in the Amway Coaches Poll to No. 18. The time is now for Oregon to bounce back from the 27-21 season opening defeat. 

The Ducks are starting the season 0-1 for the first time since 2011. No, a week one loss does not mean the sky is falling on the 2019 Oregon football season, however, the defeat initiates an uphill fight as no team has ever rebounded from a week one loss to make the final field of four. Of course, the Pac-12 conference title is still wide open.

The Ducks will play three more teams ranked in the poll; road games against No. 14 Washington and No. 23 Stanford while hosting No. 22 Washington State.

Ranked in the Pac-12: 

Washington rolled to 47-14 win over Eastern Washington behind Jacob Eason’s four touchdowns. 

K.J. Costello threw a 2-yard touchdown pass before getting knocked out of the season opener on a late hit; Stanford went on to beat Northwestern, 17-7. 

Washington State dominated New Mexico State, 58-7. 

No. 13 Utah beat BYU, 30-12.

MORE DUCKS:

Mario Cristobal's ear-catching comments about Jevon Holland

5 changes to Oregon's week two depth chart, following the loss to Auburn

Ducks started and ended their playoff run on the same night

 

Ducks started and ended their playoff run on the same night

Ducks started and ended their playoff run on the same night

If you’re one of those Oregon Duck football fans who believed your team had a real shot at getting into the Final Four this season, with a chance to play for the national championship, you just watched your season start and end on the same night.

Unless both the Ducks and Auburn Tigers go undefeated the rest of the way -- and that’s not going to happen – you have no chance. Sure, the Pac-12 conference championship is still in play. In fact, after the first week of the season, I’d have to say Oregon is the favorite to win it. But take a step back – what does that mean these days? This conference isn’t very good and that’s a fact.

The Ducks went down in a flurry of mistakes Saturday night in Arlington, Texas, and took the Pac-12 with them.

In many ways, it was an astounding defeat. Oregon owned this game most of the night – making Auburn’s freshman quarterback, Bo Nix, look like, well, a freshman. At the same time, the Ducks blended their running game with a lot of short passes from Justin Herbert to move the ball consistently. But what Oregon didn’t do was take advantage of all its opportunities.

The Ducks easily could have come away with two or three more touchdowns than they got. A dropped pass in the end zone, a fumble when on the doorstep of scoring – stuff like that matters.

All in all, I was impressed with Oregon’s discipline, demeanor and poise throughout the game. The Ducks have wiped away a lot of the silly stuff from the previous regime -- the over-the-top celebrations, posing, “sideline surfing,” taunting and extraneous stuff that doesn't help win games and can get you penalized. But right now, they’re trapped in a collision between head coach Mario Cristobal’s desire to be a power-running team and the fact that he has a quarterback touted as one of the best in the country. The end result is that it doesn’t appear Herbert has a creative and complete passing attack at his disposal.

I continue to be dismayed that this program has a big-time quarterback yet always seems low on receivers. They either can’t recruit them or for some reason can’t keep them healthy and neither of those things works very well. So we don’t see a lot of things out of the passing game that you might expect from a team with a talented and experienced quarterback.

I am not even sure that Justin Herbert's decision to return to the school for his senior season was the best move for him to showcase or develop his skills.

And Saturday night there were all those little things that can spell defeat against a good team – and seriously, I’m not even convinced Auburn is going to be anything special in the Southeast Conference. Just a few of the errors by the Ducks, in no particular order:

  • Obviously, dropped passes in the end zone come back to haunt you almost every time. Same with missed 20-yard field goals. Those things happening back-to-back are killers.
  • Down the stretch of the game, Oregon could have run more time off the clock in between plays on offense. Often, the Ducks snapped the ball with around 10 seconds left on the play clock. When he needed to do it, Chip Kelly was a master at retaining offensive tempo, yet draining the clock. That doesn’t matter too much until you lose on a touchdown with nine seconds to go in the game.
  • With five and a half minutes to play and the Ducks facing a fourth-and-one at the Auburn 41, they burned two timeouts trying to get their play and their personnel right – and the whole thing took place within spitting distance of the Oregon bench! Right in front of the coaches, where communication should have been easy. I just didn’t understand the chaos in that situation. And for a team that prides itself on its physicality and strength of its offensive line, going for it on fourth down was the right move. But it obviously wasn’t the right play. Or the right execution. And that’s when you could feel the game slipping away.
  • On its game-winning drive, I thought the Tigers, with an inexperienced quarterback, were making a huge mistake when they continued to throw the ball down the field while within field-goal range. They were out of timeouts and just one sack possibly could have ended the game. But instead, they scored. Auburn seemed to have more confidence in its freshman quarterback than the Ducks had in their senior QB, who was under wraps a good part of the fourth quarter when his coaches went conservative.
  • Why is it, by the way, that every fan in the stands and the pundits in the pressbox know when a team is playing it too safe in the late going, but the coaches don’t seem to get it?
  • By the way, what was with that Hail Mary pass from Herbert at the end? Do the Ducks ever practice that? Kid, I know you understand this, but the ball has to come down in the end zone. Games have been won that way – at least give it a chance to happen.
  • For me, it felt that all the good work the Ducks did through much of that game just went down the drain when Auburn stole it with nine second left. The storyline now won’t have anything to do with Oregon’s solid work for all but about five minutes of the game. It will be simply, when the victory was on the line, the Ducks – and the Pac-12 – didn’t have what it took to finish off what may or may not be a decent SEC team.

But what else is new?

Keys to an Oregon Duck win, Auburn Tigers to keep an eye on

Keys to an Oregon Duck win, Auburn Tigers to keep an eye on

It’s been almost 250 days since Oregon has played a football game. The anticipation is palpable for the season opener between the No. 11 Ducks and No. 16 Auburn Tigers.

BY THE NUMBERS, STATS AND GAMBLING SPREAD

A win would be Oregon’s first over a ranked team in a season opener since Wisconsin in 2001.


Numbers to know: Oregon brings back 17 positional starters from last year’s nine-win team, which is the fourth most in the nation. On offense the Ducks return 10 starters, including all five offensive linemen. The offensive line has a combined 153 career starts, which is the most in the nation.

Fun fact: A win would give Oregon its first four-game win streak (extending from 2018) since the 2015 season.


Fun fact 2: It’s not Oregon coach Mario Cristobal’s first meeting with Auburn. Cristobal’s record is 3-1 against Gus Malzhan's Tigers during his time as an Alabama assistant.

Betting line: Auburn is favored by 3.5 points.

SCOUTING REPORT

After beating then-No. 6 Washington, Auburn went 8-5 in 2018. Auburn has one of the toughest 2019 schedules in the nation and Coach Gus Malzahn enters his seventh year as head coach appearing on just about every ‘hot seat’ list in the country. The Tigers offense features true freshman five-star prospect Bo Nix starting at quarterback, three returning rushers, an unproven wide receiving corps and a veteran offensive line.

The daunting Auburn defense and possibly the best defensive line in the country is highlighted by Derrick Brown, Marlon Davidson, and Nick Coe. The battle won’t stop there. The Tigers’ defensive backs play extremely physical at the line of scrimmage, creating a challenge for Oregon’s largely unproven receiving corps.

The Tigers have ranked inside the top 15 nationally in scoring defense each of the past three seasons, allowing an average of 18.3 points per game over the three seasons.
National Stage: Hello, nation! ESPN’s College GameDay will open the football season on Aug. 31 at Sundance Square in Fort Worth, Texas to preview Oregon vs. Auburn. It marks the 25th time (14-10) in program history that the Ducks have been featured on College GameDay.

KEYS TO AN OREGON WIN

Protect quarterback Justin Herbert: It’s no secret that Auburn’s number one priority is getting consistent pressure on Herbert, who has the rare talent to take over the game. Both teams would like to lay claim to having the best offensive and defensive lines in the country. The Ducks return all five offensive lineman for a combined 153 career starts, which is the most in the nation. UO will need all that experience and for UO’s running backs to show their pass blocking improvements vs. Auburn.
"I think that is going to be a huge key,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “He can make all the throws and he's got really good receivers to throw to, so you've got to make him uncomfortable… we need to win the line of scrimmage.”

Capitalize on freshman mistakes: Nix, a former five-star prospect and top-rated dual-threat quarterback in the 2019 class, is not your average freshman. In his first ever game under the college football lights (in an NFL stadium), if he does make any errors, the Ducks must make the Tigers pay. A Duck pick-six could be the difference in this expected low-scoring game. Winning the turnover battle is key; The Tigers are 19-5 when they play turnover-free football under Malzahn.

Strike early: Coming off a less-than-exciting offensive performance in Oregon’s 7-6 Redbox Bowl vs. Michigan State, early execution to get in the end zone would greatly benefit the Ducks. Question marks have revolved around UO’s receivers for almost nine months after the departure of leading receiver Dillon Mitchell to the NFL. A big catch from starting wide receivers Juwan Johnson, Johnny Johnson III, or Jaylon Redd would calm the team and put Auburn on its heels. Running backs CJ Verdell and Travis Dye can’t give up against the Tigers that allowed only 3.7 yards per carry last season.

[READ: Oregon running back Travis Dye’s spin move isn’t his only weapon]

TIGERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON

DT Derrick Brown, DE Marlon Davidson and DL Nick Coe

Auburn’s defensive front returns all three starters that combined for 14 sacks last season. The Tigers trio is projected 2020 first round draft selections and has set a goal to allow only 3.3 yards per carry this season.

“They’re as physical and as impressive as you can see,” said Cristobal.

Oregon preseason All-American Shane Lemieux couldn’t compare Auburn’s to any he’s seen in his career. Lemieux said Washington, Utah, and Stanford feature physical defensive fronts, they’re not “even close” to what the Ducks are going to see against Brown, Davidson and Coe.

RB JaTarvious "Boobie" Whitlow

Malzahn listed six running backs on his week one depth chart and although he feels “confident that they could all possibly play.” Whitlow will be the first Tigers on the field. Auburn operates a run heavy attack and in his freshman campaign last season, Whitlow led the Tigers with 150 carries for 787 yards and six touchdowns.

HOW AND WHERE TO WATCH

Time: Saturday, Aug. 31, 4:44 p.m PT

Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas

TV: ABC

Tune in: Oregon IMG Sports Network

More Ducks:

Enough is enough; It’s wide receiver “acrobat” Johnny Johnson’s time

10 Numbers to know: Oregon vs. Auburn

Ducks happy to meet Auburn quarterback Bo Nix in season opener

Justin Herbert and Bo Nix could be a Disney movie Pt. 1: History

Justin Herbert and Bo Nix could be a Disney movie Pt. 2: Coach’s kids

Justin Herbert and Bo Nix could be a Disney movie Pt. 3: Legacy

"Glad it went in our favor" Auburn coach Gus Malzahn on Michael Dyer play

"Glad it went in our favor" Auburn coach Gus Malzahn on Michael Dyer play

What is Auburn coach Gus Malzahn saying about No. 11 Oregon? From the SEC teleconference on Wednesday:

“We are excited the first game is here,” Malzahn said. “It’ll be a really good test. We feel like we are playing one of the best teams in the country.”

Is Oregon a typical Pac-12 conference/ West Coast team, even with coach Mario Cristobal at the helm?

“Oregon is a really good offensive team,” Malzahn said. “They’ve got a very experienced offensive line. Of course, defensively that are also very experienced. We played Washington last year, first game of the season. We were very impressed with that group. I think Oregon is in a similar category as Washington last year.”

Will wide receiver Anthony Schwartz be available?

Schwartz, who broke a bone in his left hand early in fall camp, is still recovering from surgery earlier this month and remains questionable. He’s arguably the fastest player in college football.

Malzahn said, Schwartz will make the trip but it’ll be a game time decision.

This game is a rematch of the 2011 BCS National Championship Game. Are you aware of the Oregon fan perspective that Michael Dyer was down? How important was that play?

“That was a big play in the biggest game, there is no doubt about that, that happened to be on the last drive,” Malzahn said. “Glad it went in our favor. Great memories of that game, both teams were really, really good… It was an excellent game.”

More Ducks:

10 Numbers to know: Oregon vs. Auburn

Enough is enough; It’s wide receiver “acrobat” Johnny Johnson’s time

Ducks happy to meet Auburn quarterback Bo Nix in season opener

Justin Herbert and Bo Nix could be a Disney movie Pt. 1: History

Justin Herbert and Bo Nix could be a Disney movie Pt. 2: Coach’s kids

Justin Herbert and Bo Nix could be a Disney movie Pt. 3: Legacy

Enough is enough; It’s wide receiver “acrobat” Johnny Johnson’s time

Enough is enough; It’s wide receiver “acrobat” Johnny Johnson’s time

During fall practices, breakfast check starts at 6:15 a.m. for the Oregon football team.  The first Duck to arrive through the doors of the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex in Eugene, OR, is junior wide receiver Johnny Johnson III.

The early bird wide receiver has attacked the 2019 season with a different approach and the team is feeling the dividends. Now the question remains; After an up and down Oregon career, when injuries have shrunk the pool of eligible receivers, is this the season Johnny Johnson truly arrives as a reliable option for quarterback Justin Herbert?

“I’m fired up for him because of the type of camp that he’s had… He’s said ‘Enough is enough. It’s my time,’” Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said. “He’s been through a lot. We all have our ups and downs but we like sticking by our guys. We’ve stuck by him. He knows it. He feels it.”

The 6-foot, 200-pound former three-star recruit from Chandler, Arizona has started 16 games in the past two seasons. He had more receptions and yards as a freshman than last season; in his 10 starts in 2017, Johnny Johnson totaled 21 receptions for 299 yards and one touchdown. As a sophomore, he had 17 receptions for 215 yards and four touchdowns but most concerning was his dropped passes and decline in production in UO’s final eight games.

Hence the ups and downs that Cristobal referenced.

“Whether it’s an up and down season for (Johnny Johnson), he’s always going to come in and work hard,” said senior linebacker Troy Dye. “He’s the first dude in the facility every day, getting extra treatment, stretching out, rolling out. He’s one of the last dudes off the field every day… I think this year will be a big year for him”

2019 is a fresh slate and Johnny Johnson has prepared to take advantage of his prime opportunity. His veteran presence is rare; as Johnny Johnson and junior Jaylon Redd are the only healthy receivers who have caught more than one pass from Herbert. The majority of his reps have been with the first team and he was a top performer in Oregon’s most recent scrimmage with four catches and 53 yards.

His teammates and coaches have noticed his soaring confidence translate to excellent play.

“(Johnny Johnson) has gotten a lot better from last year,” Junior cornerback Deommodore Lenoir said. “To summarize his whole game, he’s an acrobat; He makes crazy catches, diving catches, all types of catches.”

Lenoir also tabbed Johnny Johnson and Juwan Johnson as Oregon’s most physical receivers. An important title, considering the No. 11 Ducks have a date with No. 16 Auburn on Saturday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX.

The Tigers’ secondary is filled with veterans, returning four of five starters including two seniors at safety. Auburn’s athletic, smart and daunting defense will test the Duck’s pass catchers as they’ve proven to be pesky; breaking up 39 passes and picking off 12 in 2018. While the Tigers’ defensive line gets attention for being one of the best in the nation, Cristobal’s been impressed with Auburn’s explosive secondary.

“They’re as physical and as impressive as you can see,” Cristobal said.

It’s a perfect time for everything to come together for Johnny Johnson. He’s confident in his football IQ and has worked to become “better at it all; mentally, physically, running routes and catching the ball”.

His versatility will be key. As injuries have mounted, Johnny Johnson has been working outside and in the slot for the Ducks. The Ducks receiving corps is coping with injuries to Brenden Schooler (right foot), Mycah Pittman (shoulder), JR Waters (lower leg) and Lance Wihoit (limited). Oregon needs Johnny Johnson, Redd and Juwan Johnson to own their starting spots from the jump.

Johnny Johnson’s confidence in himself spills over into this praise for Oregon’s wide receiver unit.

“They’ll see on Saturdays. They’ll see,” said Johnny Johnson. “I ain’t got nothing to say. They’ll see…”

Justin Herbert and Bo Nix could be a Disney movie Pt. 3: Legacy

Justin Herbert and Bo Nix could be a Disney movie Pt. 3: Legacy

The season opener between No. 11 Oregon and No. 16 Auburn is beginning to look like the plot of a Disney movie. Two ranked opponents in the national spotlight, led by hometown quarterbacks who have been preparing their entire football career for a moment like this.

Oregon senior quarterback Justin Herbert and Auburn freshman quarterback Bo Nix have the opportunity to write the introduction to the 2019 football season. August 31st is the beginning of Herbert’s swan song and the start of Nix’s legacy.

A win for the Ducks would mark their first over a ranked team in a season opener since Wisconsin in 2001 and arguably Herbert’s most substantial victory in his career as a Duck.

[The plot thickens with Herbert and Nix’s family histories in part one]

[Part two: Coach’s kids groomed for starting roles at childhood dream schools]

Lasting legacy

While Herbert and Nix have strangely Disney-esque comparable pasts, this is where the story narrative differs.

A projected top 2019 NFL Draft selection, Herbert passed on millions from for one more season in an Oregon uniform with an opportunity to bestow a lasting legacy.

The sand is in the hourglass is running low for Herbert and the Ducks… If not now, when?

Nix’s hourglass hasn’t been flipped yet. He’s already making history.

Nix will become the first ever true freshman quarterback to start for the Tigers during week one of the modern era. The starter is expected to split some time with backup redshirt freshman Joey Gatewood. However, this is Nix’s chance to make this team and this season his own. Nix’s performance and the game outcome explicitly also effects Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, who has been featured on just about every ‘hot seat’ list in the country.

Nix holds the opportunity to start the ‘Bo Nix era’ at Auburn with a bang in front of the entire nation. His career will undoubtedly contain natural comparisons to his father, Patrick Nix who played quarterback for Auburn from 1992-95, while he attempts to get into the conversation with Tiger quarterback greats like Cam Newton (2010), Pat Sullivan (1969-71) and Jason Campbell (2001-04). The window to Nix’s college football career is just opening and his potential legacy is endless.

For Herbert, limited opportunities in an Oregon uniform remain. Time is of the essence for the senior.

The 6-foot-6, 237-pound quarterback with the powerful right arm and sneaky-fast wheels couldn’t leave the Oregon football program with unmet goals. His hunger to come back for another year was partly fueled by his desire to win big for the team he grew up cheering for.

“I don’t think we ended the year last year like I wanted to, we kind of fell off,” Herbert said in an interview with Talkin’ Ducks host Jordan Kent. “At times we were playing really good football and I know we were better than our record says. Coming back, I wanted to finish better.”

His rare talent emerged in his tremendous junior season, where he threw for 3,151 yards, 29 touchdowns and eight interceptions. However, the Ducks fell short of a Pac-12 title and barely squeaked by Michigan State in the Redbox Bowl to get their first bowl game win since 2014. Herbert entered last season as a dark-horse Heisman Trophy candidate and ended the season cut from All-Pac-12 teams… Hardly the “mic-drop” accomplishments that Herbert envisioned as a young athlete growing up a Ducks fan.

During his Oregon career, Herbert has overcome a broken collarbone that sidelined him for five games during his sophomore season and unprecedented coaching turnover. The Eugene-Native is the only quarterback in UO history that has played for three different head coaches in three seasons. In his 28 career starts, the Ducks win/loss record is an unimpressive 17-11, which doesn’t match the impressive natural football ability that compels NFL scouts to keep an analyzing eye on Herbert.

In the Herbert era, year-over-year the Ducks have shown progress; winning four games in 2016, seven games in 2017 and nine games in 2018. With Herbert at the helm, Oregon is averaging 38.3 points per game and has big wins over then-ranked No. 11 Utah in 2016, an overtime upset over rival Washington in 2018 and a victory against MSU in the Redbox Bowl.

The improving momentum is apparent and while those wins were significant, they were not legendary. Herbert’s resume is lacking championship recognition needed to be remembered alongside Duck quarterback greats like Marcus Mariota, Joey Harrington, Dan Fouts, Jeremiah Masoli, Darron Thomas, etc.

Entering his fourth season, and second under coach Mario Cristobal, much of Herbert’s legacy is yet to be determined.

The expectations are high. Herbert, who is on most short lists for this season’s Heisman Trophy, was named first-team quarterback in landslide fashion at Pac-12 Media Day. The senior received a first-team nod on 31 of 33 media members ballots.

His teammates gush that Herbert has never been better.

“He can make any throw in the world. I swear, I’ve seen him make every throw and it pisses me off every day,” linebacker Troy Dye said. “It’s super cool to have a quarterback like that because he’s a great leader, a great person and a great friend.”

Herbert enters his final season as a Duck with a streak of 28 consecutive games with a touchdown pass, the longest in the nation. His veteran offensive line is projected to be the best in the country and he utilized the summer break to better connect with his receivers. His leadership skills have grown immensely, altering the perception of his shy personality. He is receiving instruction from legends at his position.

Long story short, Herbert is putting it all together for an epic senior season that could be record shattering.

“He’s exactly what you want on your football team,” Cristobal said. “He acts like he’s a freshman that just got here and is trying to prove something.  He lives each day as if he’s the guy who’s trying to prove that he belongs here. When your best players are doing that, you’ve got a chance to be a good football team."

The Ducks are projected Pac-12 North Division champions. Oregon will have to overcome road battles at Washington, Stanford and USC to get to play for the conference title. If UO emerges atop the Pac-12 with double digit wins including a marquee victory over an SEC team, playoff discussions ensue.

As the Pac-12 Conference’s best shot at the college football playoff, Herbert has the chance to validate his stamp of greatness and accomplish the goals he returned for in his final Oregon football season. It begins Saturday, when the Ducks have a shot at upsetting the Tigers on a national stage behind Herbert’s right arm.

Beating one of the best defensive lines in the country in a rematch of the 2011 BCS National Championship game in prime time… To me, that sounds like a perfectly defining game to add to Herbert’s resume. Get the popcorn ready. 

Justin Herbert and Bo Nix could be a Disney movie Pt. 1: History

Justin Herbert and Bo Nix could be a Disney movie Pt. 1: History

The season opener between No. 11 Oregon and No. 16 Auburn is beginning to look like the plot of a Disney movie. Two ranked opponents in the national spotlight, led by hometown quarterbacks who have been preparing their entire football career for this moment.

Oregon senior quarterback Justin Herbert and Auburn freshman quarterback Bo Nix have the opportunity to write the introduction to the 2019 football season. August 31st is the beginning of Herbert’s swan song and the start of Nix’s legacy.

History

Herbert, the 6-foot-6, 237-pound quarterback with the ability to make any throw is a main reason Oregon is the favorite to win its first Pac-12 title since 2014. Before he was projected as a top pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Eugene-native was a Ducks fan, a passion passed down from birth.

“I grew up in a family that was Duck fans for as long as they can remember,” Herbert said in a Talkin’ Ducks interview with host Jordan Kent. “I grew up with a grandfather that went to every single game and played (at Oregon). My parents both love Oregon football and my brothers, so I just assumed I had to be a Duck fan.”

Herbert’s grandfather, Rich Schwab, played receiver at Oregon from 1960-63 and introduced Herbert to Oregon football. Herbert remembers experiencing Autzen Stadium with him. As an 11-year-old, Herbert stood next to Schwab in awe during the 2009 Civil War. 

“One of my favorite games was the Oregon-Oregon State civil war game with Jeremiah Masoli,” Herbert said. “I think it was third or fourth down, late in the game and he ran over a guy. I thought that was really cool.”

Schwab passed away in January of 2018, but his impact is everlasting on his grandson.

When Herbert got the call from then-Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich with an offer from the program in his backyard, he didn’t hesitate. It was a no-brainer to follow in Schwab’s footsteps. In fact, Herbert “didn’t think it was real” until he answered the call in the back of the Sheldon High School parking lot.

“I jumped on the bandwagon as soon as I could,” Herbert said. The three-star prospect had taken visits to Northern Arizona and Portland State.

In contrast, Nix was offered by 18 different schools. However, Alabama’s 2018 High School Player of the Year only had eyes for Auburn. The five-star prospect and top-rated dual-threat quarterback in the 2019 class never visited any other schools.

The 6-foot-2, 215-pound quarterback is following in his father’s footsteps. Patrick Nix threw for 4,957 yards and 31 touchdowns over 32 games for the Tigers from 1992-95. Patrick met his wife in college and Bo was raised a Tigers fan since birth. (Sound familiar?)

Nix is the first ever true freshman quarterback to start for the Tigers during week one of the modern era. It’s very likely that Oregon will see both Nix and back-up Joey Gatewood at quarterback on August 31. 

Fittingly, Nix’s favorite Auburn memory as a fan includes the Ducks. Nix’s dream to lead Auburn to a national championship intensified while he watched the 2011 BCS National Championship game. From his seat at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, Nix cheered as quarterback Cam Newton and the Tigers defeated the Ducks, 22-19, to win the program’s first national championship game in 63 years.

Nine years later, it almost feels predestined that these two quarterbacks would meet in a nationally televised, primetime game with major legacy and conference implications on the line.

[RELATED: Ducks happy to meet Auburn quarterback Bo Nix in season opener]

The plotline of this Disney movie doesn’t stop there. Neither do the parallels: Both Herbert and Nix were coached by their fathers and will be relying heavily on their father’s advice come August 31 in AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX.  The difference? It’s in the legacy.

[Part two: Coach’s kids groomed for starting roles at childhood dream schools]

[Part three: Time dwindling for Herbert's lasting legacy]

Injuries piling for Auburn wide receiving corps

Injuries piling for Auburn wide receiving corps

Auburn may be without Anthony Schwartz, its fastest receiver, when the season opens Aug. 31 against Oregon, according to Auburn undercover.

Schwartz will need surgery to repair at least one broken bone after injuring his hand in practice Sunday during a blocking drill. Its unclear if Auburn’s star receiver will be available yet for the season opener at the AdvoCare Classic in Arlington, Texas.

Schwartz holds the under-18 world record with a time of 10.15 seconds in the 100-meter dash.

Eli Stove will likely be the next receiver up. However, Stove sustained a knee injury in practice on Sunday. The injury is believed to be minor, according to Al.com.

Auburn’s offense is retooling with a first-time starting quarterback between either redshirt freshman Joey Gatewood or true freshman Bo Nix. The Tigers operates a run heavy attack and return their top three rushers.  

In 26 days, Oregon football grasps the chance to upset Auburn in prime time and become the Pac-12’s best chance for a spot in the playoff. It’s hard to count out a determined Gus Malzahn, who has been featured on every ‘hot seat’ list in the country, and a resilient Auburn team, but the Ducks have the star power, size and experience to beat the Tigers.

[READ: Prediction, Underdog Ducks will beat Auburn]

Shining personalities, injury updates and first Oregon football fall camp impressions

Shining personalities, injury updates and first Oregon football fall camp impressions

EUGENE- After the first practice of Oregon’s 2019 fall football camp, coach Mario Cristobal oozed preparation and organization. When meeting with the media, the second-year head coach literally brought out a paper list of freshmen capable of making an instant impact this season.

Tremendous organization and infusion of new talent are just two parts of the equation that is adding up to an optimistic outlook for the 2019 season. The Ducks are trying to make the most of Heisman hopeful quarterback Justin Herbert’s final year. UO returns a combined 17 positional starters, a veteran offensive line, running back weapons CJ Verdell and Travis Dye, deep competition at receiver and a defense led by projected first round NFL draft pick linebacker Troy Dye.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

It should come as no surprise that the first thing Cristobal stated he is looking for during fall camp is “physicality.”

He liked what he saw. The Ducks practiced so aggressively in helmets, without pads, that the coaching staff had to tell some players to tone it down a little.

"Certainly they’ve been eager for this day to come. The day has arrived, and they got after it,” Cristobal said.

UO is facing an especially important fall camp due to a pivotal and polarizing week one showdown against Auburn. The desire is to have competition at every position and build depth. Oregon is putting major emphasis on improving explosiveness at the lines of scrimmage and the run game to lead the Pac-12 in rushing yards.

AUBURN 

Typically, fall camp is not a time to focus on one specific team. However, with the lofty implications of Oregon’s week one SEC battle, Cristobal addressed if that philosophy will shift.

About 10 days before Oregon’s polarizing matchup against Auburn on August 31, the Ducks will shift focus entirely to game planning for the Tigers.

"We all know it’s an incredible opportunity,” Cristobal said. “But we also know you can’t skip step one, two and three, which is camp. After that we’ll get dialed in on our first opponent."

BEST PERSONALITY

Two of my favorite personalities at Oregon media day were surprises: freshmen Patrick Herbert and Kayvon Thibodeaux.

Tight end Herbert physically resembles his older brother Justin in a double-take type way. Patrick plays with his long locks similarly to how his brother did when he garned the “Hairbert” nickname as a junior. Patrick is gifted with the same calm presence that Justin evokes and answers questions without hesitation in a precise manner- he doesn’t waste words. He made eye contact and politely thanked me for the interview.

He is already making his own name as a Duck and getting in the mix to contribute this season. Herbert’s listed weight increased 25 pounds from 220 to 245. The lone in-state prospect in 2019, four-star Herbert’s strength is catching the ball in traffic.
“Well, he (Justin) is lucky he's a senior because he'd be in the shadow (of Patrick)," Cristobal said.

Patrick has humble confidence and lights up when he talks about his family and Justin. When the brothers were a senior and freshman at Sheldon High School in Eugene, Patrick loved catching passes from Justin and called it a “highlight of his high school and football career." He continued to say it’d “mean the world” to connect in Autzen Stadium.  

Thibodeaux also opened up on emotions he expects to feel as he runs out to his first college football game in and Oregon Duck uniform. ESPN's No. 1 recruit in the 2019 class may shed a tear or two.

The 6-foot-5, 240 pound elite pass rusher is sporting a beard because he made a bet with a friend to see who could grow it out a longer.

The true freshman’s goal is to have 10 sacks every season. Justin Hollins led UO last season with 6.5 sacks. Thibodeaux is poised to lead Oregon this season: he enrolled early, quickly adjusted to college pace and has displayed an array of pass-rushing moves that indicate he will be a high-impact player right away.

While 10 sacks is his personal goal, Thibodeaux says he would trade it for one sack and nine wins.

INJURY UPDATES

Oregon opened fall camp at almost complete health and with virtually full participation. The short injury list is an ideal situation for Oregon.

The only player out was walk-on receiver Justin Collins.

Junior tight end Cam McCormick (minor ankle injury) and offensive lineman Sam Poutasi (rehabbing ACL) were limited but plan to be back to action in a few days. Cornerback Haki Woods Jr., who was given a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA, has recovered from an ankle sprain in the summer.

NEXT

Letting catchable balls hit the turf was one of the main problems for Oregon’s offense, registering 52 dropped passes last season. Stay tuned for an update on how Oregon has improved their drop problem and which young Ducks are impressing veterans.

Oregon football predictions: Ducks beat Auburn, Dye smashes record, McCormick back with vengeance

Oregon football predictions: Ducks beat Auburn, Dye smashes record, McCormick back with vengeance

Optimism is high for Oregon football’s 2019 season. 

The anticipation is palpable. The Ducks are trying to make the most of Heisman hopeful quarterback Justin Herbert’s senior year and Cristobal’s second season at the top. UO returns a combined 17 positional starters; a veteran offensive line, running back weapons CJ Verdell and Travis Dye, an influx of new talent at receiver, projected first round draft pick linebacker Troy Dye and a few extraordinary freshman who could make instant impacts.

Before the action begins, here are six predictions for Oregon's season. Let me know if you agree or disagree on Twitter

1. Underdog Ducks will beat Auburn

Oregon football grasps the chance to upset Auburn in prime time and become the Pac-12’s best chance for a spot in the playoff. It’s hard to count out a determined Gus Malzahn, who has been featured on every ‘hot seat’ list in the country, and a resilient Auburn team, but the Ducks have the star power, size and experience to beat the Tigers.

2. Troy Dye, projected first round 2020 NFL draft pick, will smash Oregon record

Dye’s reign of terror on Pac-12 offenses will continue and the senior will take down the Oregon record for career tackles, set in 1971. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Dye will undoubtedly be the leader of Oregon’s 2019 defense and he’s already etched his name in UO history books: leading the team in tackles for three straight seasons, only the third Duck to do so since 1970.

The “freak athlete” as NFL scouting reports often refer to Dye, finished the 2018 season with 115 total tackles totaling 313 in his collegiate career. He needs 121 tackles, six more than he had last season, to set the record.

3. Justin "Record Breaker" Herbert; will set new record for career pass completions

Herbert’s teammates gush that he has never been better. His leadership skills have grown immensely, altering the perception of his shy personality. He is receiving instruction from legends at his position. He is utilizing the summer break to better connect with his receivers. Long story short, Herbert is putting it all together for an epic senior season that I predict will be record shattering.

The senior will break Oregon’s record for career pass completions, set by Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota with 779 completions.

4. Cam McCormick back with a vengeance

The Ducks have six options at tight end but I predict you will be hearing Cam McCormick’s name ringing through Autzen Stadium a lot this season.

McCormick won the starting spot last year but suffered a season-ending left leg injury in the first game of the season. The Bend, Oregon. native is back in action and poised to have a breakout junior season. He returned for Oregon’s spring football and practiced with the first team. 

Expect the 6-foot-5, 260-pound pass catcher to be a big (literally) weapon for Herbert. As the Ducks’ largest tight end, McCormick has NFL size and tools to make an impact this season.

5. "Dangerous" running back Sean Dollars to have a money freshman season

Hype surrounds the star-powered 2019 class looking to make an instant impact, including Sean Dollars, who has all the tools to have a stand out freshman season and develop into a starting running back before his time is up at Oregon. He’s also caught the eye of former Duck running back star and Heisman Trophy candidate LaMichael James who believes Dollars is already “college ready.” Should Dollars enter Oregon’s fall camp in peak physical and mental shape, he could be an elite addition to the backfield. 

6. True freshman Kayvon Thibodeaux poised to lead Oregon football in sacks

Cristobal named Kayvon Thibodeaux a “game changer” from the moment he committed to the Ducks. Undoubtedly, ESPN's No. 1 recruit in the 2019 class is competing for a starting job and I predict the defensive end will lead UO in sacks this season. At 6-foot-5, 240 pounds, he’s an elite pass rusher with explosiveness, scary speed and agility that creates major issues for offensive lines.

Do you have any predictions of your own?