Cyrus Habibi-Likio

With Oregon Spring Game canceled, players bring Duck spirit back to community

With Oregon Spring Game canceled, players bring Duck spirit back to community

The University of Oregon spring football game and annual food drive, which raises over 50,000 pounds of food for Lane County, was cancelled this year due to COVID-19. 

However, Ducks student-athletes like running back Cyrus Habibi-Likio and safety Haki Woods Jr. refused to let their community go unserved. 

Members of the Oregon football team decided to team up with local company, Lockdown Performance, in effort to collect food items for Lane County. Habibi-Likio and Co. posted flyers then drove through neighborhoods to collect canned goods from people’s doorsteps on Thursday. 

The group, cladded in face masks and gloves, collected 5,000 pounds of food, according to Habibi-Likio’s post. It looks like they even brought a few smiles to people’s faces as well. 

The Oregon Spring Game was initially scheduled to be held on April 18 in Autzen Stadium. But you can still make a difference when it comes to the tradition of donating food as your ticket to the game. 

On Friday, they are giving those who weren't home or able to participate in door pickups another chance to give back. From 3:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m., Ducks football players and head coach Mario Cristobal will be at the Oakway Shopping Center outside Nordstrom Rack to collect items right from people’s cars.

Since we are all encouraged to be partaking in social distancing and limiting our contact with the outside world, you can still donate virtually to FOOD for Lane County as well. 

The magic number for Oregon vs. Arizona

The magic number for Oregon vs. Arizona

Oregon (8-1, 6-0 Pac-12) is on track to the Pac-12 Conference Title game and in the running as a College Football Playoff contender. The Ducks have three conference games left and Arizona (4-5, 2-4 Pac-12) is the next opponent they must beat. The Ducks are coming off a bye with a lot on line… Here are 10 numbers you need to know about the 7:30 p.m. kickoff in Autzen Stadium.


A Duck win against the Wildcats in the Pac-12-After-Dark game would clinch the North Division title and a spot in the Pac-12 championship. It would be Oregon’s third Pac-12 North crown.


Oregon is one of five FBS teams (Baylor, Clemson, Minnesota, Ohio State) off to a 6-0 start in conference play. 


Oregon opened as 26.5 point favorites over Arizona, which marks the Ducks’ sixth straight home game as a double-digit favorite.


Oregon leads the nation with 17 interceptions, which is the program's most through nine games since 1988. The Ducks' 11.78 points off turnovers per game ranks second in the country and is a major contributing factor in the Ducks’ eight-game winning streak. Jevon Holland and Verone McKinley III each have four picks, leading the team. Eleven different Ducks have recorded an interception.


Holland, a sophomore, leads active Pac-12 players in career interceptions with nine. The Jim Thorpe semifinalist is tied for the most career interceptions among sophomores in the nation.


Arizona has beaten Oregon each of the past three matchups where the Wildcats enter unranked and the Ducks enter ranked. The Wildcats topped No. 19 Oregon, 44-15 last year that featured Arizona running back J.J. Taylor rushing for 212 yards and two scores.


In the last 12 games between Oregon and Arizona, the Ducks are 7-0 when scoring more than 40 points per game and 0-5 when scoring less than 40.


Oregon’s top two running backs, backs CJ Verdell (groin) and Cyrus Habibi-Likio (quad) are expected to play against Arizona. Starting right guard Dallas Warmack (hip flexor) is also good to go.


Arizona’s rushing attack ranks second in the Pac-12, led by JJ Taylor who is ninth in the Pac-12 in rushing with 566 yards. The Wildcats’ total offense (495.8 yards per game) ranks 12th in the country and second in the conference.


Arizona has had five plays go for 70 or more yards this season. Across the country, only Oklahoma State, Alabama, Colorado State and UCF have more.


Mario Cristobal’s ear catching comments on expanding Mykael Wright’s role

Three notable changes to Oregon’s depth chart ahead of Arizona

Sabrina Ionescu jerseys are here but already sold out

A once-in-a-decade player ignites Oregon's run game

A once-in-a-decade player ignites Oregon's run game

Oregon’s 37-35 drama filled win snapped the Ducks’ four-game losing streak to the Cougars in front of a sellout 59,361 crowd at Autzen Stadium, the tenth highest attended game in history. When freshman kicker Camden Lewis nailed a 26-yard field goal as time expired, the Duck student section flowed over the fences to celebrate with the team that lifted up Lewis.

Meanwhile, Oregon coach Mario Cristobal found running back CJ Verdell to give him a congratulatory hug after the sophomore’s career night that will likely shoot him to the top as the Pac-12 Conference’s leading rusher. His 257 rushing yards ranks tied for fourth most all-time in school history and the most by a Duck in Autzen Stadium history.

There is something eerily similar between Oregon’s comeback victory vs. Washington in Seattle and its gutsy last minute triumph over Washington State at home.

The big plays to the left side.

If Verdell sparked the Ducks’ (7-1, 5-0 Pac-12) offense against Washington State, then left tackle Penei Sewell was the ignition.

Last week against Washington, running back Cyrus Habibi-Likio ran for a career-high 81 yards, all of which came in the second half, and credited Sewell for insane blocking.

Habibi-Likio and his girlfriend thanked Sewell by having him over for a home cooked meal of baked mac-n-cheese and chicken.

This week, Verdell had the hot hand and became the Pac-12 running back with the most yards in a conference game. A stunning highlight came in the first quarter: Oregon’s offensive line blew open a huge hole, wide receiver Juwan Johnson pancaked two defenders and Verdell cut, sprinting untouched to the end zone for a career-high 89-yard touchdown. The crowd lost control at the play that felt very vintage Oregon offense.

What’s it like for Verdell to run behind Sewell?

"Who was it that parted the Red Sea? Moses?” Verdell said. “Yeah, when Moses parted the Red Sea, that's how I would describe it."

Following Verdell’s three-touchdown and career-high 257 rushing yards plus 56 receiving yards on four receptions, the running back plans to also take care of lineman Sewell, but in his own way.

“Me and Penei are pretty much brothers,” Verdell said. “He pretty much lives with me. If he wants a home cooked meal then it ain't nothing. I'll make him some ramen noodles or something."

Sewell, the highest-graded offensive lineman in the country by Pro Football Focus, has had major honors roll in this season, earning Pac-12 offensive lineman of the week three times already.

He leads the team with 32 knockdowns and Oregon has a 13-2 record with Sewell as starter. Sometimes, Sewell almost out runs the running back. It’s easy to get lost watching his play during an offensive drive, he’s that impressive.

Oregon senior center Jake Hanson beams with pride when asked about Sewell.

"Penei is a guy that comes along in a program once every decade or couple decades honestly. He's that good,” said Hanson. “And on top of his natural talent he works very hard, he's passionate about the game, he's everything that you would want in a teammate… I love having him as my left tackle."

The win over WSU was another step forward towards Oregon’s first Pac-12 Title since 2014. The Ducks have more challenges ahead, starting with a trip to Los Angeles to play Pac-12 South foe, USC next Saturday. However, with a unique once-in-a-decade player like Sewell, the 2019 season is also beginning to feel very special.

Numbers to know: Oregon vs. Washington State

Numbers to know: Oregon vs. Washington State

Oregon hosts Washington State in a Pac-12 After Dark special at 7:30 p.m., Saturday in Autzen Stadium. 

The No. 11 Ducks (6-1, 4-0 Pac-12) look to stay atop the Pac-12 North Division, while the Cougars (4-3, 1-3 Pac-12) are coming off their first conference win, defeating Colorado 41-10 in a strong offensive showing. 

Here are 10 stats and numbers you need to know to be the fan dropping knowledge at the tailgate:


In Autzen Stadium, Oregon has outscored its four opponents 174-19. The Ducks have allowed only one touchdown in 53 drives by its opponents.


After WSU’s victory against Colorado, Coach Mike Leach looked ahead to the “tough” Ducks and referred to Autzen Stadium as a “great looking stadium that looks like Middle Earth”on the WSU postgame radio show.

Middle-earth is the fictional setting of British writer J. R. R. Tolkien's books The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.


The Cougars have won the last four meetings with Oregon including a 34-20 victory in Pullman last season. WSU has left Autzen victorious the past two seasons: 45-38 (OT) in 2015 and 33-10 in 2017. Oregon has never lost to WSU five-straight times.


Junior wide receiver Johnny Johnson led the Ducks vs. Washington with 90 receiving yards and five receptions, all which resulted in a first down. His 30 catches this season is already more than his sophomore season total (17) and freshman season total (21).


Sophomore running back Cyrus Habibi-Likio has scored six rushing touchdowns in the last three games. He has set a new career high in each of the past three games. Against Washington, all 81 of his rushing yards came in the second half.


Four members of the Oregon coaching staff have ties to the Washington State football program: Associate Head Coach/Defensive Line Joe Salave'a coached the WSU defensive line (2012-16), Linebackers coach Ken Wilson coached the WSU linebackers (2013-18), running backs coach Jim Mastro coached the WSU running backs (2012-17) and offensive analyst David Gilbertson was a WSU quarterback (2009-12).


WSU leads the country in passing (440.7 yards per game), is 4th in total offense (532.7 yards per game) and 8th in scoring (42.7 points per game). Quarterback Anthony Gordon has 2,981 passing yards with 29 touchdowns and seven interceptions.


Oregon senior offensive tackle Calvin Throckmorton has allowed just one sack over last 38 games (2,766 snaps). In his 45th consecutive start, Throckmorton earned Pac-12 Conference offensive lineman of week for his performance against Washington on Saturday.


A win on Saturday night would mark Oregon's eighth-straight win at Autzen Stadium, good for the longest streak since a 10-game run from 2013 into 2014. A victory would improve Oregon to 11-1 at Autzen Stadium under coach Mario Cristobal.


Give Oregon its first seven-game Pac-12 win streak since 2014. It’d also be Oregon’s first 5-0 start to Pac-12 play since 2013.

High expectations and laughable goals: WR Mycah Pittman's debut

High expectations and laughable goals: WR Mycah Pittman's debut

Eugene, OR- Mycah Pittman just shined in his Duck debut in No. 13 Oregon’s 17-7 win over California in which he made two spectacular diving catches that awed the sell out crowd of 54,766 in Autzen Stadium. Yet, the freshman walked off the field slowly, with a concerned look on his face that caused senior quarterback Justin Herbert to stop, put his arm around the young receiver and give him some encouragement.

Why so serious?

Because Pittman’s not satisfied.

“If he could, he’d put another hour on the clock and keep playing, that’s the kind of guy that he is,” Oregon Coach Mario Cristobal said. “You see how excitable he is when he touches the ball. Those aren’t easy catches, either… I was very happy that he’s healthy because it means the world to him. Looking forward to more explosive moments from him (and fellow slot receiver Jaylon) Redd.”

His four receptions and 43 yards helped the Ducks grind out the ugly win. The Ducks offense woke up just in time to improve to 2-0 in Pac-12 play for the first time since 2013. Oregon (4-1, 2-0 Pac-12) remains the only team in the North Division without a conference loss.

But Pittman has higher expectations.

“People tell me that I had a great game, I didn’t have any dropped passes, but at the end of the day I feel like I can do more for this team,” Pittman said. “We got a team win and I’m very grateful for that but personally, I’m very hard on myself… I’m a very competitive guy. If I told you guys my goals, you would laugh at me.”

When pressed, Pittman would only add his goals are “really high."

Since stepping foot on campus, the Pittman hype has been full go. During fall camp, he was the most talked about true freshman, making Oregon fans reel in excitement. A shoulder injury, from (of course) making a diving catch in practice set back his plans, changing course to rehabbing and exercising mental reps.

His first game proved that his athleticism and reliable hands are as good as advertised. The “fire in his belly” is also living up to the hype.

“I’ve always told everyone this, he has amazing hands, the best hands I’ve seen from a receiver,” said corner back Thomas Graham. “He’s very tough on himself and I like that, because I’m tough on myself. If you don’t hold yourself to a higher standard than what standard can you tell people to hold you to?”

Pittman’s ruthless attitude is echoed on the Duck defense, which once again came through to keep Oregon in the game. Oregon forced seven Cal three-and-outs and two turnovers.

Freshman Kayvon Thibodeaux also recorded his first sack, finishing the game with two.

“I was so excited, my blood was going I felt like a shark when there's blood in the water," Thibodeaux said. "I mean it was unbelievable."

The relentlessness is also exemplified in sophomore running back Cyrus Habibi-Likio, who couldn’t help but stop a rogue fan who ran onto the field during a TV timeout. He was toying with security when Habibi-Likio stepped up to take down the fan, even though strength and conditioning coordinator Aaron Feld told him not to.

“I had no intention to hurt him,” Habibi-Likio said. “It’s a Pac-12 game and we were down and the momentum was slipping away. Cal Coach (Justin) Wilcox seemed frustrated so he was signaling the security to get him and they weren’t able to get him. Coach Feld told me, ‘don’t do it, don’t do it’ because he saw me pacing back and forth but I had to do it.”

Habibi-Likio scored Oregon’s first touchdown late in the third quarter from a situation he is very comfortable with: on the goal line. The Ducks combined for 206 rushing yards, surpassing the rushing total against Stanford (83 yards) in the first quarter alone.

It wasn’t pretty: Travis Dye fumbled the ball twice, Herbert threw his first interception of 2019, Oregon committed eight penalties (four more than their average per game); and CJ Verdell went down an injury (although the X- Ray came back negative, ankle sprain, according to Cristobal).

However, faced with an opportunity to fold, the Ducks stood. Herbert finished 20-for-33 for 214 yards and was able to extend his touchdown streak to 33 games with a one-yard pass to junior wide receiver Jaylon Redd to all but seal the game in the fourth quarter.

All in all, it was a victory in Pac-12 play. The biggest win? The Ducks, like Pittman, aren’t satisfied.

Oregon running back Travis Dye’s spin move isn’t his only weapon

Oregon running back Travis Dye’s spin move isn’t his only weapon

As a freshman, Oregon running back Travis Dye quite literally flew onto the scene with his ferocious jump cuts and spin moves. His breakaway speed and agility amounted to 739 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 140 carries.

The 5-foot-10, 192-pound sophomore may be the hardest worker on the team based on the stories his teammates disclose about him.

Wide receiver Jaylon Redd smiled wide when talking about determined Dye. Redd detailed that on multiple occasions, when the defense gets an interception in practice, Dye will be the Duck to sprint all the way down the sideline to keep them from the end zone.

“His effort is there, his heart is there,” Redd said.

Fellow running back Cyrus Habibi-Likio complimented Dye’s integrity. Habibi-Likio was impressed with Dye after he missed a block and linebacker La’Mar Winston Jr. got around him. Later that day in film session, coaches missed the play and instead of dodging the error, Dye brought it back up so that the position room could go over it, correct it and learn from it.

His character earned A+ remarks from his team… And so did his on-field development and refined skills.

“He is a lot more physical this year,” Habibi-Likio said. “He’s able to run in between the tackles a lot more… He’s not afraid to put his head down and if there is someone in the way, he’s going to try to get through them instead of get around them.”
Over the past year, the game has slowed down for Dye, he knows the playbook like the back of his hand, his blocking has improved and he’s playing more physically. He’s ready to one-up himself, specifically when it comes to breaking runs of 10-plus yards and 20-plus yards.

“When I get the ball I’m always trying to shoot for touchdowns, not first downs,” Dye said.

The competition with the defense has been no laughing matter during fall camp. As it’s extremely difficult for any defensive Ducks to compliment their offensive teammates, including Travis’ brother, star linebacker Troy Dye.

“Iron sharpens iron, as everyone says,” Troy Dye said of his brother, Travis. “It’s always fun to compete against anybody and it’s a little more fun when it’s Travis.”

The shifty Dye is also an enticing option for the Ducks at punt and kick returner. He’s been one of a few contenders who have been taking reps and getting a shot during fall camp.

Special teams need aside, the Ducks desperately need Dye to help UO’s transition to Cristobal’s hard-pounding vision. The Ducks struggled with the physical, between the tackles rushing attack in 2018, finishing the season with the 191 rushing yards per game, the least amount for this program since 2006.

The good news? The Ducks return the entire starting offensive line and both leading rushers in CJ Verdell and Dye. Better news? Dye is trending upwards, improving rapidly towards the latter half of the season. Dye had 507 rushing yards after mid point of the season. To close out Pac-12 play, he rushed for 100-plus yards in back-to-back games, including his record setting Civil War performance.

This season, Dye is adding physicality to his determination and naturally agility… Which is just what the Ducks need for a reliable run game and success in 2019.

LaMichael James' take on Oregon's Sean Dollars: Dangerous

LaMichael James' take on Oregon's Sean Dollars: Dangerous

The best recruiting class in Oregon football history is in Eugene and preparing for their first collegiate 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.”

“I think he will be a special player once he gets his opportunity,” James said. “He’s the highest rated running back to come to Oregon since Jonathan Stewart. You pair that with the best offensive line Oregon probably has ever had and it could be a dangerous combo.”

Dollars is the highest rated running back on Oregon’s 2019 roster and the nation’s No.1 all-purpose back, per 247sports. He is one of three Mater Dei High School players to sign with Oregon in the 2019 class. The 5-foot-10, 185-pound special talent is praised for his versatility to be a workhorse, every-down type of back that can also catch the ball out of the backfield.

"Can do it all,” Coach Mario Cristobal said. “Line him up in the slot, line him up in the backfield, empty, wildcat — you name it, he can do it. Excellent as a kick returner, also."

But exactly how can the Ducks’ utilize Dollars and where does he fit on the depth chart?

2018 saw the emergence of Ducks duo CJ Verdell and Travis Dye, who will be excellent for years to come. Cyrus Habibi-Likio is poising himself for a breakout season and Darrian Felix had a strong spring showing before being sidelined by illness.

[READ:Underdog Ducks will beat Auburn: Oregon football prediction]

That’s enviable veteran experience, which creates a good problem for UO offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo and running back coach Jim Mastro.

Should Dollars enter Oregon’s fall camp in peak physical and mental shape, he could be an elite addition to the backfield. James compared the potential blend of speed and power of the 2019 UO backfield to when he was a Duck (2009-11).

“Verdell is a downhill runner; north and south with force… I love how he runs,” James said.  “Dye is a slasher and a smooth transition from Verdell. Then you have Dollars who can be used in unique ways. (It reminds me of) me, Kenjon Barner, DeAnthony Thomas and Josh Huff, who were all pretty exchangeable in backfield.”

Undoubtedly, Dollars’ elusiveness and versatility will make him a special player at Oregon. In the right role, Dollars’ could climb the depth chart and start his Duck career right away with a money freshman season.

Oregon Mailbag: Who is really calling plays? What's the deal with the horn?

Oregon Mailbag: Who is really calling plays? What's the deal with the horn?

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

Who is really calling plays? Will that screeching horn continue to roar through Autzen Stadium? Which running backs will get the most touches? Plus, a look ahead to the toughest road game and how you can stay informed on all things Duck football related.

Question from Thurios on Twitter: Coach Cristobal has said he reserves the right to change a defensive or offensive play call by the respective coordinators. What criteria must occur to cause him to do that?

Answer: Co-offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo and defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt are Oregon's play callers. With that said, Cristobal meets with Arroyo and Leavitt throughout the week to help game plan, including game day to review and change any schemes and all situations. As head coach, he reserves his veto right. Therefore, the criteria for him to change a play is up to him.

 “I’m always on the headset with both sides because if there is a call that I feel really isn’t the best call for us at the time, then I’ll do whatever necessary to make sure we get the best call,” Cristobal said.

Question from Penny on Twitter: Will that horrible horn sound continue in Autzen?

Answer: According to 247 sports, the loud siren sound you may have heard blaring through Autzen stadium when the Duck defense faced a third down is taken from the horror movie, The Purge.

The idea to have the horn blasted on crucial downs came from the team, specifically defensive lineman Jordon Scott and defensive back Ugo Amadi, to alert the fans to get wild and loud. It also serves as an alert to the Duck defense that it’s time to bear down to get a stop.

I’ve seen the movie (it’s terrifying), so while it might take some getting used to, if the horn riles up the fans and team, I’m all for it. According to Eric Skopil’s report, the horn appears to be staying.

Question from Tyler on Twitter: Who separates themselves from the others at RB before Stanford? Which 3(ish) can we expect to get the majority of touches by month’s end?

Answer: It’s no secret that Oregon flexed its depth by spreading the ball out to all six of its scholarship running backs in its 58-24 victory over Bowling Green. Freshman CJ Verdell led the way with 51 yards, Cyrus Habibi-Likio was the only running back to score, while freshman Travis Dye was the first running back off the bench.

Going forward, will Oregon's stat line show six running back rushers? Not once Pac-12 conference play begins.

Yes, there is a plethora of talent, but expect the old man of the group to be the lead workhorse, “Grandpa” Tony Brooks-James. Behind Brooks-James, each back has a select skill set that could be used differently to game plan for opponents.

If I had to predict who will receive the majority of touches after Brooks-James, I’d say Verdell, Habibi-Likio and sophomore Darrian Felix. Verdell’s strength is his breakaway speed, Habibi-Likio is the largest back on the roster and uses his power to barrel through a defense, and Felix has the experience and explosive lateral quickness.

Question from NBCSportsNW on Twitter (my employer so I had to include!): Which Oregon football away game will be toughest for the Ducks to win?

Answer: Oregon plays at Cal (9/29), Washington State (10/20), Arizona (10/27), Utah (11/10) and Oregon State (11/23). Of those five away games I think Arizona is the most dangerous. The Ducks take on the Wildcats in Tucson on the second of back-to-back road games.

Yes the Wildcats did lose to BYU in their opener, but the duo of new coach Kevin Sumlin and dual-threat quarterback Khalil Tate makes the Wildcats (7-6 last season) an intriguing team to watch this season.

Arizona returns its leading passer and rusher in Tate, who electrified with 1,591 passing yards and 14 touchdowns while rushing for 1,411 yards (9.2 per carry) and 12 touchdowns.

Question (from multiple people on Twitter): What kind of Duck TV coverage does NBC Sports NW plan on?

Answer: Talkin’ Ducks will be our weekly Oregon show. It airs at 7pm on Friday nights and is hosted by Jordan Kent, with me, Aaron Fentress and Joey Harrington as panelists.

If you are looking for supplemental Oregon coverage, I will be on the Brian Noe Radio show (Rip City Radio 620) at 1:45pm every Friday. Also, our website is jam packed with video and written content.

Oregon's rushing attack led by seven-headed monster

Oregon's rushing attack led by seven-headed monster

Who will be the next president of Running Backs University, also known as, Oregon Football? 

Turns out, No.24 Oregon (1-0) has a seven-headed monster leading its rushing attack. In the Ducks' 58-24 win over Bowling Green tonight, six running backs played and totaled 212 rushing yards with an average of five yards per rush.

Who makes seven? Quarterback Justin Herbert who finished with 41 rushing yards on six attempts.

Herbert was 10-of-21 for 281 yards passing with five touchdowns (an Oregon season opener record) and two interceptions.

"(Our running backs) are a young group that worked hard this offseason," Herbert said.  "I’ve got confidence in them.” 

Coach Mario Cristobal made a statement today in his first season opener as UO's head coach. The dominant victory removed the unease left by the Las Vegas Bowl loss to Boise State in Crisotbal’s debut and set up the Ducks to dominate their nonconference opponents.

"We wanted to spread the ball out a little bit and give each guy a turn,” Crisotbal said. "For the most part (the running backs) had some pretty good success. Whatever form that works to keep moving the chains and scoring points, is what we are going to do."

Ready for the running back monster break down?

Redshirt freshman CJ Verdell led the Ducks with 51 yards on 13 carries and showed glimpses of his breakaway speed. 

Sophomore Darrian Felix barreled for 38 yards on eight attempts. He did not look afraid of contact, and his explosive lateral quickness makes him an intriguing option.

Freshman Travis Dye, who enrolled early at Oregon for spring football, rushed for 37 yards on seven attempts. He is the younger brother of UO junior linebacker, Troy Dye.

After the game, Troy Dye praised his younger brother’s first college football performance but also poked fun at his sibling. "At the end of the day he's still a bum," Dye said. 

Redshirt Senior Tony Brooks-James, who started the game, finished with 27 on five attempts. He utilized his explosiveness during one 15-yard run and on a 53-yard reception.  

Senior running back Taj Griffin only rushed once for four yards but took a screen pass from Herbert 83 yards for a touchdown. 

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

Cyrus Habibi-Likio, a redshirt freshman, scored his first college touchdown and finished the game with five rushing yards on one attempt. 

“(Habibi-Likio) is a big power guy that can make things happen,” Cristobal said.

[WATCH: Cyrus Habibi-Likio, the next LeGarrette Blount?]

Going forward, will Oregon's stat line show seven rushers? Maybe not. But it sure did give reason for optimism for Oregon's power-tempo offense. 

Said Cristobal: “Will it be like that every single game? It’s hard to do that every single game.”

Oregon's RB situation has reached boy band status

Oregon's RB situation has reached boy band status

Oregon appears to be going with the boy band approach to the running back position. Oregon's depth chart lists redshirt senior Tony Brooks-James as the starter followed by the word, "situational" for the backup position. 

That's because the Ducks, who open the season Saturday at home against Bowling Green, have yet to identify a clear backup. The plan for now is to shuffle up to five other running backs in and out of the game: Redshirt freshman C.J. Verdell, sophomore Darrian Felix, senior Taj Griffin, redshirt freshman Cyris Habibi-Likio and freshman Travis Dye.  

"They all deserve to play," Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said. 

Adding to the madness is the fact that Brooks-James doesn't appear to have established himself as the clear No. 1 back, but instead he is the best among the group. Consequently, we could see as many as four to six running backs in a given game. 

This isn't good news for Oregon. The most successful boy bands of all time had a clear front man, such as Michael Jackson (Jackson 5) and Justin Timberlake (NSYNC). The same can be said about the most successful Oregon teams. One, maybe two running backs got the job done. Not five or six. You only roll with that many when you don't have a clear leader and maybe a sidekick.  

This is an unusual approach for the Ducks, or any other team for that matter.

For the first time since 2013, Oregon does not have a clear No. 1 running back. Oregon's front man the past four years, Royce Freeman, is now with Denver in the NFL, leaving the Ducks to use a running back by committee until someone emerges. Brooks-James is the starter, but Cristobal didn't make it sound like he is the clear top dog. 

"We've all seen through the years that he has flashed some greatness...," Cristobal said. "When we come off the sideline he deserves to be the first running back out there." 

That's not exactly a ringing endorsement for your lead running back. It smacks of being loaded with reservations that Brooks-James is the go-to, 20-carry-per-game guy.

Oregon faced similar questions in 2013. That season, sophomore Byron Marshall rose to the occasion to rush for 1,038 yards and 14 touchdowns. The following season, UO moved Marshall to wide receiver because the Ducks had Freeman, Thomas Tyner and Taj Griffin at running back.

Oregon has been set at the position ever since. Prior to 2013, the Ducks featured Kenjon Barner, LaMichael James, LeGarrette Blount, Jeremiah Johnson and Jonathan Stewart, dating back to 2006. 

Oregon would be quite pleased if Brooks-James performed this year as Marshall did in 2013. But it appears that that doesn't prove to be the case, Oregon is prepared to give a ton of players a chance to contribute. 

Having a glut of good running backs is not a bad thing when all is going well. It truly doesn't matter who is carrying the ball when the holes are huge and the offense is rolling. We saw that in 2016 when Royce Freeman went down at Nebraska but the trio of Kani Benoit, Brooks-James and Taj Griffin ran wild for a combined 205 yards.

But when Oregon needed a steady running back to grind out games against tougher opponents in Freeman's absence (or when he returned but was hindered by a bruised sternum), that guy was not to be found and it hurt Oregon.

The easiest part of being a running back is jolting through a huge hole. The toughest part is finding a couple of yards when they don't appear to be available. That's what made Johnson, Stewart, James, Barner and Freeman so great.  

Brooks-James failed to rise to the occasion in 2016 but did show flashes of being a great back. Now, two years older, he could be ready to answer the call. 

"I've never had (a back) that fast before, in my career," new UO running backs coach Jim Mastro said. "That's a strength. Obviously, when you can take the ball and any minute go 100 yards, 90 yards, that's unique. He's being a great leader. He's took on the role of trying to be the guy. He's done some really good thing."

Again, not exactly a clear declaration that Brooks-James is the man. 

Cristobal said he hopes that each running back's unique skills can help the team. Verdell is a good downhill runner. Dye can juke anyone with his jump cuts. Felix is an elite athlete. Habibi-Likio offers size. Griffin is a prove home run hitter. 

Splice them all together in a lab (the one we all know exists in the bowels of the Hattfield-Dowlin Complex) and Oregon would have the perfect running back. Right now, Oregon simply has a glut of talented backs backing up a senior yet to show that he can carry a team's rushing attack. 

Cristobal said that UO's up-tempo offense would provide plenty of opportunities (80-90 plays per game) for all of the backs to display their talents. The first three opponents, which includes Portland State and San Jose State, should provide easy victories and plenty of opportunities for Oregon to give all of its running backs a fair look. 

"They are all going to get their touches," Cristobal said. 

But once Pac-12 play starts, Oregon would be better off if the field behind Brooks-James has shrunk and he has established himself as the MJ or JT of the 2018 Oregon running game.