College football

Five things to root for to help Oregon’s CFB Playoff chances

Five things to root for to help Oregon’s CFB Playoff chances

Oregon’s No. 7 ranking in the first College Football Playoff poll this season keeps the Ducks’ National Championship dreams alive and makes their next four games extremely relevant. Whether you are freaking out (good or bad) or calm as a cucumber like Oregon Coach Mario Cristobal (who watched Oregon’s basketball game at Matthew Knight Arena during the debut rankings release), here is an ideal scenario that’d help the Ducks get into the top four.

First and foremost, it’s essential the Ducks (8-1, 6-0 Pac-12) cruise through Pac-12 Conference play undefeated. The Ducks are the second highest ranked one-loss team, behind No. 6 Georgia.

The slight against the Ducks is their best wins are against Washington and USC, a pair of unranked 5-4 teams. The combined record of the FBS opponents Oregon has beaten this is season is 30-30. Oregon’s saving grace could be a possible Top 10 showdown with No. 8 Utah (8-1, 5-1) in the Pac-12 Championship Game. A one-loss Pac-12 champion would certainly be in the discussion for one of the four spots.

[READ: "Best is yet to come" from Juwan Johnson and the Oregon Ducks]

Root for Utah… Until the championship game, of course

It’d help Oregon’s chances if Utah excelled in the committee’s “eye test” for the remainder of their conference games. Root for the Utes to destroy UCLA, Arizona and Colorado to finish the season 11-1 in dominating fashion. Then, root for a convincing Oregon victory against a strong Utah team in the Pac-12 title game.

Root for Washington to beat Oregon State in Reser Stadium, 7:30 p.m. Friday

Oregon State is still in the race for the divisional title and is the only team Oregon has not beaten in the Pac-12 North. The Beavers (4-4, 3-2) are second in the Pac-12 North standings and are trending upwards, winning three of their last four.

Ducks fans should root for the Huskies, who are coming off a loss to No. 8 Utah. If the Beavers top Washington, the Civil War would be a pivotal rivalry matchup with the potential for a disaster upset for the Ducks.  

Root for LSU to beat Alabama, 12:30 p.m. Saturday

If No. 2 LSU (8-0) badly routs No. 3 Alabama (8-0) in Saturday’s marquee matchup, it could raise major doubts about the Crimson Tide as playoff contenders (along with its soft non-conference schedule and resume).

Root for Auburn, particularly vs. Georgia (All Ducks fans roll eyes)

Yes,  No. 11 Auburn (7-2) beat Oregon in the season opener, which still stings for many Ducks fans. However, that last second loss will look better if the Tigers can win out down the stretch, specifically against No. 6 Georgia on November 16.

Penn State and Ohio State still play each other. Root for a blowout in that Big Ten clash, one convincing enough to raise serious doubts about the loser.

Root for Oklahoma to lose

Oklahoma (7-1) is ranked No. 9. Root for the Sooners to lose a game against remaining opponents Iowa State, Baylor, TCU or Oklahoma State. If Oklahoma wins out and wins the Big 12 title game, the committee may have to decide between a one-loss Pac-12 champion and a one-loss Big 12 champion.

The poll that actually matters is released on December 8th and there is a lot of football left to be played. No. 1 Ohio State still has to play No. 4 Penn State and who knows, maybe No. 5 Clemson will get upset. However, don’t forget that for Oregon to be a strong candidate, it first must take care of its own business, which Cristobal recognizes.

Overview of the Beavers 2020 recruiting class: Offense

Overview of the Beavers 2020 recruiting class: Offense

Oregon State enters their second bye of the season which not only gives the program a week to rest and prepare for Arizona, but it gives the coaching staff free time to recruit the next class of Beavers. 

Bye weeks are essential to recruiting because they permit coaches to go on visits while they do not need to worry about a game that weekend. However, much of the 2020 recruiting class has been filled already.

Let’s introduce you to all of them. This will be the first article in a series that will span articles going over each offensive commit, defensive commit and targets still being recruited. 

Now, let’s look at the offensive players already committed.

Isaiah Newell, RB, 3 Star

A 247Sports composite three-star running back out of Walnut Creek, CA. He held offers from 16 schools including Arizona, Arizona State and Colorado. At 6-foot-2, 225 pounds he rushed for 2,166 yards and 32 touchdowns as a junior last season. He also played out of the slot and due to the high talent level in the Beavers backfield should get playing time there in Corvallis. 

Zeriah Beason, WR, 3 Star

A former Rivals four-star, now three-star, wide receiver out of Duncanville High School (Dallas, TX). He held offers from 23 schools such as Florida, LSU, Michigan State, Arizona State, Baylor and Oklahoma State. At 6 foot, 180 pounds he lines up on the outside and is given plenty of bubble screens called for him. He’s able has good field vision to get yards after the catch.

Ben Gulbranson, PRO QB, 3 Star

247 Sports rates the 6-foot 3, 210-pound quarterback as the 33rd best pro style quarterback in the country for the 2020 recruiting class, good for a three-star rating.  He held offers from California, Arizona State, Kansas State and San Jose State. His tape shows off good accuracy and an ability to deliver balls in the right spot despite imminent pressure. 

Cooper Darling, OG, 3 Star

A 247Sports composite three-star out of Gilbert, Arizona rates as the 86th best guard in the country. At 6-foot-4, 290-pounds he has a frame to play at the Pac-12 level. His only other Power 5 offer was Arizona State. 

Silas Bolden, ATH, 3 Star

The younger brother of former Beavers receiver, Victor Bolden Jr, has a grade of three stars from 247Sports. He’s 5-foot-10, 175 pounds and held offers from Hawai’i, Idaho, Sacramento State and San Jose State. Like his older brother, he excels in the return game. In high school, he appears to operate on the outside as a wide receiver. 

Trevor Pope, ATH, 3 Star

A 247Sports composite three-star out of Tracy, CA. He held offers from Oregon State, Fordham, New Mexico and San Jose State. The 6-foot-1, 165-pound athlete played wide receiver in high school stretching the defense and getting yards after the catch on drag routes.

Samuel Peacock, OT, 3 Star

A 247Sports composite three-star out of Gig Harbor, WA. He also held offers from Georgetown, Idaho, Portland State, among others. At 6-foot-6, 265-pounds he will need to put on some weight to compete in the trenches on the Pac-12 level. 

Tommy Spencer, TE, 3 Star

A 247Sports composite three-star out of Roseville, CA and the 95th ranked tight end. He also held offers from Fresno State and San Diego State. At 6-foot-5, 248-pounds he showed proficiency at run-blocking tight end and hopes to catch passes as well in college. His college tape shows off good run blocking and route running.

Oregon State vs UCLA: 10 Things to Know

Oregon State vs UCLA: 10 Things to Know

Oregon State (1-3, 0-1) travels to Pasadena to play the UCLA Bruins (1-4, 1-1) at 6pm (PT) in search of their first conference victory of the season. 

UCLA only has one win but has shown to be a highly volatile team. The Bruins have scored over 17 points once this season, but also scored 50 in the second half in that game. Can the Beavers contain the Bruins and leave the Rose Bowl with a win?

Here are some facts to help prepare you for the game. 

IT'S BEEN AWHILE

Saturday is the first time OSU has played at UCLA since 2016. Their previous game was a 38-24 loss to the Bruins who got a 40 yard interception return for a touchdown to seal the victory with 2:14 left.  

A FAMILIAR FOE

UCLA head coach Chip Kelly has plenty of experience playing against Oregon State. The former Oregon coach never lost a Civil War game and Beaver fans are hungry to finally beat him. 

INJURIES MAY HAMPER UCLA'S OFFENSE

UCLA starting quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson suffered a leg injury in a loss to Arizona this past weekend. Beavers head coach Jonathan Smith speculated the Beavers won’t know if he’s playing until kickoff so they're preparing for both Robinson and his backup. 

BETTING LINE

The Beavers are 6-point underdogs this weekend against UCLA after opening as 8.5-point underdogs. As of Thursday, Oregon State has received 51% of bets for them to cover.

HOMECOMING FOR PITRE

Beaver running back coach Michael Pitre was UCLA’s team captain in 2006 and lettered 2003-07 for the Bruins.

THE OFFENSE HAS STEPPED UP

The offense has played efficiently so far. They have scored on 21 of 41 drives that haven’t ended due to halftime or the end of the game – 51.2 percent. The same scenario last year through four games was 37.7 percent and in 2017 29.4 percent. Their third-down conversion rate of 55.6 percent not only leads the Pac-12 but is fourth in the nation behind Air Force, Texas and Ohio State.

OSU has punted 11 times this year through four games, exactly half over the same amount of games as last year. The only teams in the country with fewer punts are Oklahoma, Florida, Air Force and Navy.

ISAIAH HODGINS HAS DOMINATED

Isaiah Hodgins has been the Beavers’ best player this season. He leads the Pac-12 with 509 receiving yards, also good for eighth-most in the nation. Every player in front of him has played five games compared to his four. He’s also fourth in the nation for yards per game at 127.3 and 29 of his 33 receptions this season have either resulted in first downs or touchdowns.

WATCH OUT FOR HAMILCAR RASHED 

Hamilcar Rashed leads a much improved Beavers defense. He has two quarterback sacks in back-to-back games marking the first Beaver to accomplish that feat since Scott Crichton in 2012. Rashed leads the Pac-12 for tackles-for-loss with 7.5.

THE BEAVERS TAKE CARE OF THE FOOTBALL

OSU and Iowa lead the country for fewest turnovers with one. Oregon State’s lone turnover was an interception thrown by Tristan Gebbia in the fourth quarter against Cal Poly. Starting quarterback, Jake Luton is fourth in the country for most pass attempts without an interception at 140.

Oregon State vs Stanford: 10 Things to Know

Oregon State vs Stanford: 10 Things to Know

Coming off a bye, the Oregon State Beavers (1-2, 0-0 Pac-12 play) open their conference schedule against the Stanford Cardinal (1-3, 0-1 Pac-12) at Reser Stadium at 4 p.m. (PT). 

The Cardinal have struggled so far this season but are better than their record indicates given three consecutive losses to ranked opponents. Can the Beavers take advantage of the Cardinal’s slump and open Pac-12 play with a victory? We’re optimistic. But before kickoff you’ll need to prepare for the game.

Here are 10 facts to get you ready for the contest!

  1. The game kicks off at 4 p.m. on Pac-12 Network with Roxy Bernstein, Anthony Herron, and Jill Savage on the call. 

  2. At 1-3, Stanford is off to their worst start to a season since 2007, the first year under Jim Harbaugh as the Cardinal head coach. In their 5th game that season, the Cardinal defeated #2 USC despite being 41-point underdogs. The Cardinal are 4-point favorites over the Beavers on Saturday.

  3. RB Jermar Jefferson is 15th in the OSU record book with 1,650 rushing yards and Artavis Pierce is 20th with 1,476 yards. Pierce is currently on OSU career record pace for rushing yards per attempt at 6.0; Jefferson is tied for second at 5.8. In Jeffeerson’s absence, Pierce had 12 carries for 90 yards against Cal Poly. 

  4. WR Isaiah Hodgins leads the Pac-12 (8th nationally) for receiving yards per game at 115.7. Of his 23 receptions for the season, 19 were for either touchdowns or first downs. Pro Football Focus also grades Hodgins out as the top receiver in the Pac-12.

  5. Former head coach Dennis Erickson will be honored at the end of the first quarter for his upcoming induction into the College Football Hall of Fame in December in New York City. Erickson coached at OSU from 1999-2002 leading the program to new heights, including a 41-9 Fiesta Bowl victory over Notre Dame. He was honored last week at Washington State and will be next month at Miami.

  6. Head Coach Jonathan Smith had great success playing Stanford when he suited up for Oregon State. His 405 yard passing performance at Stanford in 1999 remains a school record. Smith also set the school record that stands today with a 97-yard touchdown pass to Chad Johnson at Reser Stadium the following year against Stanford.

  7. The offense has scored a touchdown on the first drive of every game this season. Isaiah Hodgins has two of these touchdowns, against Oklahoma State and Cal Poly respectively.  Against Hawai'i, Jermar Jefferson ran for a 4-yard touchdown to cap off the Beavers’ opening drive. 

  8. OSU co-leads the country for fewest turnovers (1). The Beavers are tied with Appalachian State, Boston College and Iowa. 

  9. The Beaver offensive line is rated second in the nation by Pro Football Focus for pass blocking efficiency. They have allowed only two QB sacks through three games; the best start to a season since the 2003 team gave up two sacks in as many contests.

  10. The Beaver defense has 24 tackles-for-loss this season through three games; nearly half the total for the entire season last year. That ranks 3rd in the Pac-12.

Don't worry, there will always be those willing to play football, and watch it

Don't worry, there will always be those willing to play football, and watch it

Would you want your child to play football?

That’s the question I found myself asking this morning, in the wake of the sudden retirement of Andrew Luck.

I was lucky. My son got through high school concentrating on basketball and baseball, two sports he played well. He never asked to play football and that was fortunate because I might have said yes.

But we know a lot more about the long-term consequences of playing the sport now than we did a few years ago. And when we see someone like Luck walking away from the game, it has an impact.

He was raised in a football family. His father, Oliver, was an NFL quarterback. The kid became a better quarterback than his dad, earning a scholarship at Stanford and eventually becoming the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft.

But then the injuries started to mount.

I don’t need to list them all now, but when he said he’s spent the last four years in year-round rehab, that should tell the story. This game is a legalized crippler. If you’ve ever watched an NFL game from the sideline, you know what I’m talking about. Every play sounds like a head-on collision, which it often is. I will try to be delicate here, but the fact is, it’s played by a lot of people who are crazed physical specimens who thrive on contact and even pain.

You don’t want to be there in the middle of that. And I doubt you want your children there, either.

Yes, the talent pool will inevitably shrink for this league and even for college football. But don’t worry about the long-term viability of the sport. There will still be people who need the money so bad they’re willing to take their chances with the injuries or simply those crazies who just love legally hitting people.

And, of course, there will still be plenty of people willing to spend good money watching them do it.

Oregon football most valuable program in Pac-12 conference

Oregon football most valuable program in Pac-12 conference

The Oregon football program is rising in value, according to Forbes. Want to be the Duck fan at the tailgate with all the Oregon knowledge? Here are the numbers you need to know about No. 20 Oregon

Money, money, money: Forbes released its list of 'Most Valuable College Football Programs', and Oregon ranks 12th. The Ducks make $92 million in revenue and $54 million in profit. Notable Oregon football transaction include; Mark Helfrich's $5 million severance pay in 2016 and UO's Nike deal of $88 million in cash and gear over 11 years.  

Oregon is the highest team from the Pac-12 conference, while Texas A&M takes the top spot. The list is created on the basis of average annual revenue, rounded to the nearest million, and is the first Forbes list since 2015 to rank the nations top college football programs. In 2015, Oregon was ranked 14th. 

9 years of dominance: Oregon’s 39 games with 50-plus points since 2009 are the most by any FBS program in that span. The Ducks are also 79-0 all-time when scoring 50+ points.

San Jose State Family? Four Oregon coaches have also coached at San Jose State; Marcus Arroyo (2006-08), Jim Mastro (1996), Joe Salave’a (2008-09) and Donte Williams (2013-15). Also, Arroyo played quarterback there from 1998-2002.

Blur offense: In the first two games, 10 of Oregon’s 16 touchdown drives have lasted two minutes or less... Don't blink!

The Herbert Advantage: Oregon is averaging 43.4 points per game in quarterback Justin Herbert’s 17 career starts.

Sharing is caring: 12 different Ducks have scored a touchdown through two games, the most in the nation.

Seeing Redd: Sophomore wide receiver Jaylon Redd is tied for the Pac-12 lead with three touchdown receptions. Redd has scored a touchdown in four straight games dating back to Oregon State game in 2017. 
Career-Highs vs. Portland State: Defensive lineman Austin Faoliu set a career-high for the second straight week with seven tackles. Starting running back Tony Brooks-James carried the ball a career-high 21 times for 107 yards and scored two touchdowns. Running back CJ Verdell surpassed 100 rushing yards for the first time in his career with 106 yards on 11 carries with one touchdown.

 

More Ducks:

Oregon Ducks quarterback Justin Herbert doesn't play favorites

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

Travis Dye and his ferocious jump cuts could be special this season

"Grandpa" Tony Brooks-James has goals to dominate in his final UO season

Oregon football rises to No. 20 the AP Poll

 

Wille Taggart loses opener at FSU, suffers wrath of Twitter trolls

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USA Today

Wille Taggart loses opener at FSU, suffers wrath of Twitter trolls

Willie Taggart left Oregon for Florida State after just one year in Eugene, and fans of Oregon weren't very happy about it. But the sour taste he left in the mouths of fans is a little sweeter after the blowout loss his Seminoles suffered at the hands of Virginia Tech last weekend. FSU is not off to the start it had hoped, Taggart is not off to the start he had hoped, but for Duck fans, they are both off to the best start imaginable. During and after the game, Twitter was on fire. The trolls came out in force and it was hilarious. Just take a look. #DoSomething, amirite?! 

https://twitter.com/duckscrootin/status/1036774826617143296 https://twitter.com/danegado/status/1036817026000408576

Taggart tagged as most overrated coach in CFB

Taggart tagged as most overrated coach in CFB

College football coaches plus anonymity equals eye-catching quotes and hot takes.

A coaching panel was asked to name the most overrated coach in college football and former Oregon coach Willie Taggart topped the list.

According to a poll in which CBS Sports spoke with one-fifth of the 129 active coaches leading FBS teams entering the season, Taggart and Penn State’s James Franklin each received 20 percent of the vote.

Taggart enters his first season at Florida State, replacing Jimbo Fisher, after one year at Oregon. He is 47-50 overall as a head coach with stops at Western Kentucky and South Florida. He repeatedly called FSU his “dream job”.

A “dream job” that some FBS coaches don’t believe he had earned.

“He was only at Oregon for one year, and it’s not like he really transformed that program — and that’s a place that’s won for a long time,” one coach said of Taggart. “Not that he isn’t good — he’s won. But usually when you get a job like Florida State, it’s because you’ve won some championships or done something really amazing.”

Another coach said he voted for Taggart because “he still has a career losing record.”

Taggart is universally respected as a recruiter, but because of his losing career record and relatively short resume (plus probably some jealousy) his peers seem to question the new Seminoles head coach’s validity.

Or maybe it's his showmanship and confidence that turns off his peers. Taggart brought the "swag surf" to the Oregon student section, the "juice" to the football team and smeared the "Do Something" slogan all over Autzen stadium.

[READ: Oregon linebacker Troy Dye calls out Willie Taggart on Twitter]

It should be noted that Taggart took over three losing programs that went a combined 7-29 before his arrival and got them all to bowl games before departing for better job.  

Taggart wasn’t the only coach who was criticized. Nick Saban was labeled a “cheater” by one head coach.

"If you had the No. 1 recruiting class in the country every year [you'd win like Nick Saban]," one coach said. "He shows up at every single game with a better roster than the teams he's playing. … If you count cheating and getting the best players in the country as part of running a program, he's the best in the country. It's like saying an NFL coach is the best coach in the league if he gets 25 first-round picks every year."

Noteably, three of five of the most underrated coaches hail from the Pac-12 conference. Twelve percent of coaches panel voted for Stanford’s David Shaw and Washington’s Chris Peterson as the most underrated head coaches in the nation.  Utah’s Kyle Whittingham wasn’t far behind, grabbing eight percent of the votes.

It's hard enough to keep QBs healthy these days without asking them to run the ball

It's hard enough to keep QBs healthy these days without asking them to run the ball

OK, I don't pretend to know a whole lot about football. Unlike baseball and basketball, I never coached it.

But I do have a tip for young offensive coordinators who weren't even born when I started watching college football. I mean, this is just a tip built on what I've seen over the last several decades of watching games. Take it or leave it:

If you have a quarterback who can throw the ball, maybe even a quarterback considered a blue-chip NFL prospect, TAKE THAT OPTION PACKAGE OUT OF YOUR OFFENSE, PUT IT IN THE TRUNK OF AN OLD JUNK CAR AND RUN IT INTO A VERY DEEP RIVER!

Guys, it's hard enough to keep a quarterback healthy and upright these days without asking him to carry the ball 10-15 times a game. You know better than I do that defenses are going to see a target on his back -- a way to take your most important player away from you. I've written about this kind of thing before and I usually get a bunch of people telling me, "You can't put bubble wrap around these guys. It's football and people get hurt."

Yeah, they do. But why increase the chances of that happening? My goodness, even big strong, tank-like running backs like Royce Freeman have trouble getting through a season without an injury. Most quarterbacks just aren't built to withstand the pounding. Nor should they have to take that abuse. They're too important.

And honestly, it's possible to run an effective offense without some sort of option that includes the quarterback running the ball. Take a look at your TV on Sunday -- the pros have no trouble doing it.

Oregon lost two quarterbacks Saturday night and obviously, Justin Herbert is going to be impossible for them to replace. For what? A short run to the end zone that any one of three or four Duck running backs could have accomplished?

It made me sick to see Herbert hurt on such a play. What a waste. The guy's future is NOT as a runner. His team's future is not with him running the ball. You CAN get along without that play and the entire option attack -- particularly if your offensive line is as good as people say it is. But you can't get along without Herbert -- at least not nearly as well.

And don't get me wrong, it's not just the Ducks who do this. It's a virus all over college football.

No, you can't put bubble wrap around your quarterback. But you can ask him not to run the ball unless he has to AVOID getting tackled. And don't play him with a big lead late in games, either.

Because he's that valuable -- and you're soon going to find that out.