Bri Amaranthus

Justin Herbert: the player opponents hate to love

Justin Herbert: the player opponents hate to love

LOS ANGELES— Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert has been creating problems for Pac-12 Conference defenses for three seasons. His junior campaign flashed brilliance that caused NFL scouts to project him as a top pick in the 2019 NFL Draft had he chosen to leave school. Herbert’s decision to stay surprised many, except those who know him, and caused opposing Pac-12 coaches to sigh.

“Seems like Herbert has been there forever,” Washington State coach Mike Leach said of the four-year starter. “Somehow they granted him 10 years of eligibility.”

The hot commodity quarterback certainly has an NFL future but the pros will have to wait one more season before the Eugene-native plays on Sundays. The Ducks and coach Mario Cristobal are grateful for the opportunity for another season with the senior and recognize the opportunity to make the most of his finale.

“It’s really rare… I think what’s really neat about it is that he’s just as grateful for the opportunity. There was no hesitation and no flinching in his decision,” Cristobal said. “He knows what he wants for Justin Herbert and is not going to let anyone talk him out of what he knows is the best thing for him. He has taken another giant step in terms of his development. He is a guy that- who doesn’t love him?”

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.

Yes, the media is all aboard the Herbert train and so are opposing Pac-12 coaches. While coaches raved about Herbert’s talent, they also reeled for an answer on how to defend the 6-foot-6, 240-pound passer with the powerful right arm and sneaky fast wheels. Herbert has become the most hated to love player in the conference.

“He’s such a fantastic player, arguably the best quarterback in the country,” said Cal second-year head coach Justin Wilcox. “He really doesn’t have a weakness in his game. It’s exciting to play against guys like that. We know it will take our best.”

Wilcox has known Herbert and his family his entire life. The two families are tied with a bond to UO through Josh Wilcox, who played tight end at Oregon in the mid-1990s. Wilcox and Herbert played backyard football after holiday meals. If he was home, Justin Wilcox was often the quarterback for Justin Herbert’s team.

21 years apart, Wilcox “thinks the world” of Herbert and his family until game day when Wilcox separates from their history for work. Wilcox was not surprised that Herbert returned for his senior season because “he’s wired the right way.”

36 miles north in Corvallis, second year head coach Jonathan Smith is proud of Herbert’s representation of the state.

“To be able to watch him over the last couple years turn into the player that he is, he’s just impressive, on and off the field,” Smith said. “I’m really happy for him and the future that he has ahead of him. He represents that school and this state in a great way.”

In Hollywood at Pac-12 Media Day, Herbert oozed confidence and comfort. Sitting next to him, teammate Troy Dye gushed about the respect Herbert has earned from the entire team, top to bottom.

“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 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.”

Herbert's work ethic-- you gotta love it. That is, unless your are playing against him. 

[EXCLUSIVE] Dillon Mitchell gets real: His decision to go pro, which NFL teams he met with at the Combine and chemistry with Justin Herbert

[EXCLUSIVE] Dillon Mitchell gets real: His decision to go pro, which NFL teams he met with at the Combine and chemistry with Justin Herbert

After Oregon's victory in the Redbox Bowl, Ducks star wide receiver Dillon Mitchell told the media he was undecided on whether he would stay for his senior season or declare for the 2019 NFL Draft. Mitchell felt fans didn't get the full story and wanted to clear up why he made his decision. In an exclusive one-on-one with Dillon Mitchell and NBC Sports NW's Oregon Duck Insider, Bri Amaranthus, he dives into how his decision played out. 

Which teams did Mitchell meet with at the NFL Combine? Also, apparently Mitchell's family are quite the Oakland Raiders fans, man cave and all!

As Oregon's single-season receiving yards record holder, Mitchell looks back on his chemistry he had with quarterback Justin Herbert. Also, no surprise his favorite memory from last season was beating rival Washington.

Which NFL player does Mitchell model his game after?

Stay tuned for more updates on Mitchell. The NFL Draft begins Thursday, April 25. 

READ: 

NFL combine performances may raise Ducks' draft stocks

It's do-or-die: Ducks leave it all on the field at Oregon Pro Day

Which team is going to fall in love with Dillon Mitchell?

3 Ducks you must watch in the Redbox Bowl

3 Ducks you must watch in the Redbox Bowl

The Redbox Bowl will feature a Duck debut, a triumphant return and the last hurrah.

It also marks the first time the Ducks are playing a bowl game in the Bay Area, facing Big Ten foe Michigan State, Monday at noon at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.

On Talkin’ Ducks (video above) I divulge the three Ducks in particular I will have my eye on; senior defensive end Jalen Jelks, freshman left tackle Penei Sewell and sophomore transfer linebacker DJ Johnson.

Why?

-I expect Jelks to ball out in his last game in green and yellow 

-Sewell's return could be a huge difference maker, considering MSU has the best rush defense in the country

-Johnson's debut will be a sneak peek of Oregon’s future at linebacker

Best and Worst from Oregon vs. Cal: Did the good outweigh the bad?

Best and Worst from Oregon vs. Cal: Did the good outweigh the bad?

Oregon flexed its resiliency at a crucial time, entering the toughest part of its schedule.The Ducks are now 1-1 in conference play and get a bye week to rest before facing rival No. 10 Washington on Oct. 13.

Did the good outweigh the bad in Oregon’s victory over Cal? You decide.

BEST

Streaks, extended! Oregon has won nine of the last 10 meetings with Cal dating back to 2009. The Ducks have scored 40-plus points in eight straight games against the Bears.

Monkey off the back: Oregon’s victory over Cal marked the team’s first win against a ranked opponent since 2016 at then-No. 11 Utah. After going winless against Pac-12 teams on the road in 2017, the victory also marked Oregon’s first conference road victory since 2016 when they upset then No. 11 Utah.

Playmaker, Ugo Amadi: The senior had seven solo tackles, two interceptions and one pick-six against Cal, earning Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week honors. Amadi leads the Ducks in interceptions with eight career interceptions and his three picks in 2018 are tied for the Pac-12 lead and rank tied for second nationally. Fun fact, the safety is the first Oregon player with two interceptions, including a pick-6, in a Pac-12 game since Ifo Ekpre-Olomu in 2012 against Arizona.

Oregon’s offense is soaring: The Ducks lead the conference and rank 10th nationally in scoring (45.6). Oregon’s total offense (503.6) also leads the conference and ranks 15th nationally. The Ducks are also getting it done on third down, leading the conference and ranking 10th in the nation with a 52.1 third down conversion percentage.

Rising in the polls: Oregon moved up to No. 18 in both the Associated Press Top 25 and Amway Coaches Poll. The Ducks moved up one spot in the AP Poll and two spots in the Coaches Poll.

Herbert’s pinpoint cannon of an arm: Quarterback Justin Herbert made it rain against one of the nation's top defenses and he did it in big play fashion. His first touchdown pass was a 30-yard bullet to transfer tight end Kano Dillon that made the nine NFL scouts present lick their chops. His second touchdown pass was a picture perfect 36-yard ball to junior wide receiver Dillon Mitchell.

The junior threw zero interceptions against a Cal team that lead the Pac-12 with seven interceptions. Herbert finished the game 16-of-22 with 225 passing yards, completing passes to eight different UO receivers.

Fe, Fi, Fo, Fumble! The Duck defense forced five Cal turnovers, two that led to defensive touchdowns. 

WORST

Painful Penalties: The Ducks had seven penalties versus Cal. To be fair, two were purposeful delay of game penalties late in the game to milk the clock.

Oregon is averaging five penalties a game, which is a big improvement from 2017’s 9.4 per game average. However, an unsportsmanlike conduct flag on senior cornerback Haki Woods Jr. in the second quarter was particularly painful.

The Ducks had forced a three-and-out but the penalty extended a drive that ended with a Cal touchdown.

Injuries: The Ducks were without senior running back Tony Brooks-James. Despite playing on special teams, Brooks-James did not receive a carry because of an ankle injury he suffered against Stanford that limited his playing time. It’ll be important for Brooks-James to rehab over the bye week and be healthy in time for the Washington game. Running back Darrian Felix and defensive end Austin Faoliu were also out due to injury.

Freshman CJ Verdell and Travis Dye handled the rushing load, both surpassing 100 rushing yards. 

Where did Oregon’s rush defense go? Oregon entered the Cal game ranked third in the FBS with just 2.13 yards per carry allowed but Cal finished the game with 241 total rush yards on 5.9 yards per carry.

 

MORE DUCKS:

Rivalry kickoff time set: Oregon vs. Washington

Ducks win, rise in AP Poll

Oregon flexes resiliency, Herbert makes it rain vs. Cal

What's special about Justin Herbert and his preparation?

Oregon Ducks' loss to Stanford doesn't define them, but their October might

Dear Duck Diary: Does wearing ADIDAS revoke my Oregon card?

Dear Duck Diary: Does wearing ADIDAS revoke my Oregon card?

September 29, 2018

Dear Duck Diary, 

First road trip of the season! I will be spending less than 21 hours in Berkeley... Yikes! While I was at PDX airport boarding my flight to Oakland, I checked in for my return flight back to PDX. Does this happen to anyone else?

I wore my new ADIDAS shoes. I went to the ADIDAS employee store this week. I grew up a Nike girl. Does this revoke my Oregon card?

bri

When we landed we went straight to In-N-Out Burger, luggage and all. Why is it so good? Because I don’t eat it enough? I love the simplicity of it. I’d get animal style, but I'm lactose intolerant. I used to eat animal style in college (University of San Diego), before I knew I was allergic to dairy. It’s so damn good. 

I love Berkeley. My dad went to Cal and played football there. The first time I was on campus I thought 'wow I understand why my dad is so quirky'. Fun and eclectic!

I'm really looking forward to seeing former Oregon offensive line coach Steve Greatwood. I became friends with him and his wife through my old roommate and best friend, former Oregon lineman Tyler Johnstone. Greatwood was at Johnstone’s wedding this summer and I loved catching up with him. Great human and coach.

Also, I'm going to keep my eye out for a Justin Herbert-Justin Wilcox interaction before/after the game.

On my flight there were quite a few Oregon football fans making the trip down for the Top 25 matchup. A couple came up to me to discuss football. Here are the hot topics and gossip, according to them;

-Is it possible Justin Herbert stays for his senior season? (Yes)

-Coach Arroyo as a play caller, impressive or nah? (TBD)

-Ugo Amadi is fun to watch. (Agreed) 

-Why isnt Tony Brooks-James the main workhorse? (Ankle injury and CJ Verdell)

I can write articles about all these topics if you want me to. 

Ready for the game? I sure am! I might add to this journal entry Sunday morning. But I might not. After all, I’ll be running on very little sleep and I gotta get a little rest time! I think my Sunday will involve some sort of fall activity (pumpkins? apple picking? scary movie?), certainly a lot of coffee and NFL games! For more behind-the-scenes, follow my Instagram and Twitter. 

Happy Saturday!

Bri

MORE DUCKS:

What's special about Justin Herbert and his preparation?

Oregon Ducks' loss to Stanford doesn't define them, but their October might

10 numbers you need to know about Oregon vs. Cal 

Colin Cowherd on Justin Herbert: "The kid at Oregon...That kid is special"

Uniform update: Oregon's road digs

Uniform update: Oregon's road digs

Oregon's first road game of the season is this Saturday against the undefeated No. 24 Cal Bears. The Ducks' will be wearing all white and chrome for the Pac-12-After-Dark (7:35 p.m. kickoff) matchup. 

The winged helmets are back and the jerseys feature a new large "Mighty Oregon" font. The jerseys are more simple than years past. Fans are also encouraged to wear white. 

Victory is vital for Oregon this Saturday to keep Pac-12 Title hopes alive. I wrote about how the Ducks' loss to Stanford doesn't define them, but their October might.

Did you know the NCAA tightened restrictions on CFB uniforms?

MORE DUCKS:

What's special about Justin Herbert and his preparation?

10 numbers you need to know about Oregon vs. Cal 

Colin Cowherd on Justin Herbert: "The kid at Oregon...That kid is special"

Best and Worst from Oregon vs. Stanford

Oregon RB Taj Griffin tweets that he is looking to leave

Despite loss, "Oregon football 2.0" has arrived

Oregon Ducks' loss to Stanford doesn't define them, but their October might

Oregon Ducks' loss to Stanford doesn't define them, but their October might

How Oregon fairs in October can set the No. 19 Ducks up for a nice run at the Pac-12 conference title or it can be their demise. It all starts Saturday when Oregon (3-1, 0-1 Pac-12) faces undefeated No. 24 Cal at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, Calif.

The Ducks’ first road test comes against their second of back-to-back ranked opponents. Oregon lost to No. 7 Stanford at home in jaw dropping fashion in overtime while Cal (3-0) was resting up on a bye week.

After slugging it out with the Cardinal, it’s critical for Oregon to win Saturday because a win over Cal would set the tone for arguably the toughest stretch of Oregon’s 2018 schedule. Should Oregon go undefeated through this stretch, come November, the Ducks would be 3-1 in conference play and on a path to be challengers to win the North Division.  But just as easily, the Ducks could enter November with an 0-4 conference record, searching for answers.

“This win is crucial to show how resilient we are as a team,” said senior running back Tony Brooks-James. “In the Pac-12, any given day you can lose and any given day you can win by a 50-point margin. It all depends on how you and your team are prepared on that day.”

In order for Oregon to win the division outright, Stanford would have to lose two games. The Cardinal play at Washington and have potential upset games vs. Utah, Cal, and Washington State. Looking at the Pac-12 Conference, it seems like, for the most part, any given game is a toss up. The Ducks’ next four opponents (Cal, Washington, Washington State and Arizona) are particularly mysterious. 

Cal beat BYU on the road, a victory that looks better with each passing week as the Cougars have since upset then-Top 10 Wisconsin. The Ducks are facing a much improved Bears defense that ranks as one of the best in the country

After traveling to Berkeley, Oregon has a bye week to prepare for most likely its third consecutive ranked opponent in No. 11 Washington, the only other Pac-12 team in the AP Poll Top 25. The Huskies (3-1, 2-0) were a heavy preseason favorite to win the conference but lost to Auburn and only beat Arizona State by one touchdown.

After that mid-October rivalry game, Oregon travels to Pullman to face a Washington State (3-1, 0-1) team that is coming off its bye week. The Cougars almost beat Pac-12 South preseason favorite USC, but a blocked field goal sealed the victory for the Trojans.

The Cougar air raid is strong this season, which does not pair well against UO’s young secondary. Quarterback Gardner Minshew II is second in the country in passing, leading WSU’s offense to 401.8 yards passing per game, which also ranks second in the country.

Also, playing in Cougar territory won’t be easy, as Washington State has claimed nine straight victories at Martin Stadium.

Then Oregon travels again, to face Arizona (2-2, 1-0) in Tucson, where it’s never easy to win as a visitor. Yes, the Wildcats got off to an 0-2 start to the season, including being upset by Houston. But since, Arizona has seemed to turned it around with back-to-back wins, including a critical conference-opening road win at Oregon State. The question remains, will first year coach Kevin Sumlin and quarterback Khalil Tate electrify again?

Talk about a tough month! Oregon coaches have lived by the idea that a prepared Oregon team that executes efficiently can beat anyone in the conference and the nation.

“I think it’s really important (to set the tone against Cal),” said co-offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo. “Anybody can beat anybody. The best team doesn’t always win, the team that plays the best wins.”

Despite losing their Pac-12 opener, the Ducks can still reach their goals they set in January, to win the conference and a bowl game. The Ducks’ loss to Stanford does not have to define them, but their October might.

 

The Oregon Duck Mascot asks Bri a question

The Oregon Duck Mascot asks Bri a question

Every week I answer five of your best questions on Twitter and Instagram. Can No. 20 Oregon stop No. 7 Stanford and Bryce Love? Which team has the most to lose on Saturday? Which recruits will be on the sidelines? Also, the Oregon Duck mascot submits a question about spider 2 y banana. 

Question from Jake on Twitter: Can we stop Bryce Love and how? He ran for 147 yards and two touchdowns against us last season.

Answer: There is no doubt that Bryce Love is an offensive weapon. The Heisman Trophy runner-up reached the 100-yard rushing mark in less than five minutes against the Ducks in 2017. Containing him, while not getting burned through the air, will be a challenge for Oregon that starts in the middle, up front. It starts with sophomore nose tackle Jordon Scott. If Scott can defend the A-gaps and handle a few Cardinals, that frees Jalen Jelks, Justin Hollins and Troy Dye (among others) to contain Love.

So far this season, Oregon’s defense is among the nation’s best in stopping the run. Jelks and Hollins are a dangerous duo, combining for 9.5 tackles for loss with 5.5 sacks through three games.

Question from Mark on Twitter: Which team has more to lose on Saturday?

Answer: The correct answer here is both. The winner will take the early lead in the race for the Pac-12 North Division, be the front-runner for Pac-12 champion and announce its presence as a college football playoff contender.

Question from Thurios on Twitter: Given Coach Cristobal's confidence in Justin Herbert, how much freedom does Herbert have to audible based on shifting defensive looks?

Answer: A lot. The offense relies heavily on Herbert’s advanced knowledge of protections and the running game. Cristobal has repeatedly called Herbert a “field general” who understands the run game like a coordinator does. Cristobal has prepped Herbert to able to quickly get the offense into the right play, based on shifting defensive looks.

Question from The Oregon Duck (yes, the official mascot) on Instagram: Who is the primary receiver in spider 2 y banana?

Answer: Wow, who knew the Duck has such a high football IQ when it comes to play calling?! Is the Duck calling plays?!

The fullback is the primary target in Spider 2 Y Banana (craziest name ever) and it’s Jon Gruden’s favorite play. He actually taught it to former Duck Marcus Mariota on Gruden’s QB camp, check it out! The breakdown of the play is; The quarterback fakes the hand off and has two options: dump it off to the fullback rolling out in the flat or hit the tight end running a post route downfield.

[Five reasons why Oregon vs. Stanford is worth the hype]

Question from NBCSNorthwest on Twitter: What implications will Saturday's game have on the Oregon football program?

Answer: Besides putting Oregon in position to run the North Division, this game has major recruiting implications. Among the prospects in Eugene on Saturday will be 5-star quarterback DJ Uiagalelei, who announced his visit on Twitter. Uiagalelei is the No. 1 quarterback prospect in the 2020 class, according to 247sports.

There is a lot on the line… It’s show time for Oregon.

[Uniform update: All eyes on the "traditional" Ducks]

Jordon Scott: Oregon's secret to stuffing Stanford

Jordon Scott: Oregon's secret to stuffing Stanford

Oregon’s starting nose tackle Jordon Scott could be a future president of the United States. At least, that’s what coach Mario Cristobal said he “would most likely be”.

"Does he get my vote? Oh, yeah," Cristobal said. 

Scott’s big personality and high football IQ are crucial to Oregon’s front seven. The sophomore lightens up stuffy meeting rooms and his teammates gravitate toward and replicate his humble yet hungry attitude.

Even more essential than Scott’s personality, is his ability to defend the middle and control the A-gaps, the space between the center and either guard. Cristobal says Scott’s combination of size and speed make him a perfect fit for Oregon's 3-4 defense. Linebacker Troy Dye appreciates Scott’s consistent play that he considers the foundation of the Duck defense.

“You can’t even put into words what he does for our defense,” Dye said. “He’s probably the most integral part of our defense because it all starts up front and it all starts in the middle.”

Scott is going to have to continue his work in the trenches this Saturday against No. 7 Stanford and Heisman-Trophy runner up Bryce Love.  Love is an offensive weapon with quick change of pace and explosive speed, at any moment he can burst through a hole and take it the distance.

So far this season, Scott’s hard work has been evident in how his teammates have shined. He can hold down a double or triple team, freeing up Jalen Jelks and Justin Hollins to put up impressive numbers. The duo has combined for 9.5 tackles for loss with 5.5 sacks through three games.

“I think he's undervalued in the passing game. You don’t hear his name much, but he creates so much push in the pocket that it prevents the quarterback from stepping up and allows the edge rushers to get there,” Cristobal said.

While Scott has proven invaluable to the Ducks’ front seven, the stat sheet doesn’t accurately show his domination of the middle. That may change this week, as Scott has been putting in extra practice time to work on his pass rush moves. Stanford quarterback K.J. Costello could have number 34 barreling his direction. 

[Five reasons why Oregon vs. Stanford is worth the hype]

Scott came to the Oregon football program from Largo, Fla., weighing in at 370 pounds. He shed 40 pounds and became a Freshman All-American. His progression from year one to year two makes defensive line coach Joe Salava’e grin from ear to ear.

“He’s a big body that can move and cover short distance bursts, and can cover sideline to sideline,” said Salava’e. “For a big guy, that size moving that fast, that’s a tremendous attribute to have.”

Whether his stat line jumps off the page or not, Scott is confident heading into Saturday.

“Right now, our front seven versus their front seven… I like our guys,” Scott said.

His own guys like him, too. Jelks, who rooms with Scott on the road, says his teammate is a “goofball” that constantly makes him laugh. Jelks spending so much time on the road with Scott begs the question, does he snore?

“No," Jelks said before calling out former UO defensive lineman DeForest Buckner.  “I roommed with De-Fo before. He is the biggest snorer ever. (Scott) does not snore so I can sleep.”

Just another way Scott is helping the Oregon defense.

Oregon Mailbag: Herbert's insane stats and what's going on with Taj Griffin?

Oregon Mailbag: Herbert's insane stats and what's going on with Taj Griffin?

Each week I will answer five of your best questions from Twitter or Instagram.

Who is Oregon's hype man this season? Will the Ducks put up 50 points on Saturday? What's going on with Taj Griffin? Which Duck is the best interview? Is there a weak link on the offensive line? 

Question from NBC Sports Northwest on Twitter: Does the Oregon football energy feel different this season? What differences have you noticed at practices and games? 

Answer: I have noticed a more controlled, disciplined excitement under Mario Cristobal. Cristobal puts major emphasis on details and schedule, which is a major change from last season under Willie Taggart.

The game day energy is different this season. Oregon’s strength and conditioning coach Aaron Feld is the Ducks’ hype man. He stands at the end of the tunnel and pumps up every player that walks on the field with his electric enthusiasm.
This team doesn’t “win the day” and it doesn’t swag surf. I don’t think this team has found its identity yet, but it will (which is fine, we are only two games into the season).

Question from Corey on Twitter: What is your over/under on the Ducks putting up 50+ points on the board against San Jose State?

Answer: San Jose State is near the bottom of the FBS level statistically in a number of defensive categories, so it’s very likely that Oregon scores over 50 points. I expect Justin Herbert to throw up insane passing numbers.

San Jose State ranks second to last nationally defending the pass. In SJSU’s first two games, UC Davis quarterback Jake Meier and Washington State quarterback Gardner Minshew each finished with over 400 passing yards.

Question from Jere on Twitter: Which player on the current roster is the most fun to interview?

Answer: There are a lot of Ducks with good personalities on this team. Senior running back Tony Brooks-James is a great interview because I’ve interviewed him for five years and we’ve built a fun rapport. He can be silly and serious when he needs to be.

Linebacker La’Mar Winston Jr. has a lot to say and great stories to tell. On Oregon’s media day he told me about eating Duck for the first time while he studied art abroad in Paris this summer.

Question from Chip on Twitter: I am curious why Taj Griffin has not been more involved in the offense?

Answer: Taj Griffin has a very specific set of skills that Cristobal has planned on utilizing in UO’s offense. The speedy senior shines brightest in space, like when he took a screen pass from Herbert 83 yards to the end zone in Oregon’s opener. Expect him to be involved in the offense by contributing at running back and receiver, as he has worked on his blocking skills to stay in the backfield on more downs.

“We all know what Taj can do when he has some space," Cristobal said. 

Question from Jon on Twitter: Which player on the offensive line do you figure will be the most pivotal over the course of the season? 

Answer: Penei Sewell, the first true freshman offensive lineman to start the season opener since 1997 (last true freshman to start a game on the offensive line was right tackle Tyrell Crosby in 2014).

Sewell is protecting Herbert’s blind side at left tackle and, so far, has exceeded expectations and gained the trust and praise of his teammates. Will his inexperience play a factor as the Ducks play better opponents? We will see, but so far so good.

More Ducks:

The Ducks aren't looking past San Jose State to Stanford, but I am

Oregon Quarterback Justin Herbert is seeing Redd

Oregon football most valuable program in Pac-12 conference

Official: 4-star WR Jalen Hall off Oregon football team

Oregon Ducks quarterback Justin Herbert doesn't play favorites

The best and worst from Oregon's domination over Portland State

Oregon football rises to No. 20 the AP Poll