Injuries

Oregon vs. Montana: 10 numbers to know

Oregon vs. Montana: 10 numbers to know

Pac-12 after dark could get ugly this week in No. 15 Oregon’s matchup against Montana. The Ducks’ massively overmatch the Griz in their final non-conference game, which kicks off at 7:45 pm in Autzen Stadium in Eugene. Montana has won four of their last five road games and look to improve to 3-0 with a monster road upset over Oregon (1-1).

The Ducks and coach Mario Cristobal aren’t looking past Montana to their Pac-12 Conference opener at Stanford and neither should you. Here are 10 stats and numbers you need to know to be the fan dropping knowledge at the tailgate:

1. INJURY UPDATES

Oregon has yet to see two of its largest offensive weapons play this season and the wait may continue. Cristobal gave an injury update on senior wide receiver Juwan Johnson and junior tight end Cam McCormick.

Johnson’s (leg) availability is likely a Friday or Saturday decision. "It’s a soft tissue thing, so we expect progress and it’s going to be close," Cristobal said. "I think now we’re coming around to this thing could actually be a go.” McCormick (ankle) is unlikely to play this week and is eyeing a return for Oregon's Pac-12 opener at Stanford. The 6-foot-5, 260-pound pass catcher went through pregame warm-ups prior to the season opener against Auburn but not before last week’s game against Nevada.

2. EAGER PITTMAN

True freshman receiver Mycah Pittman, who was expected to contribute or possibly start this season, suffered a shoulder injury in a fall scrimmage that was supposed to sideline him for six to eight weeks. Pittman tweeted, "2 more weekkksss!" on Sunday, implying a quicker than expected return.

Cristobal addressed the tweet that excited fans who are anxious to watch one of the most praised incoming freshman from teammates and coaches.

“I know everyone is excited about Mycah’s tweet," Cristobal said. "He’s pretty ambitious. We’ve still got to wait a little bit, but he’s getting better. We hope to have him with us in a couple of weeks practicing again."

The initial 6-8 weeks projection would mark Pittman healthy as early as Oregon’s game against Cal on Oct. 5.

3. CRISTOBAL ON FIRE AT HOME

Oregon is looking to improve to 8-1 at home under coach Cristobal.

4. THE SHOUGH SHOW

Back-up quarterback has been a point of contention for Oregon in the last five seasons. The Ducks have seen countless quarterbacks transfer away, leaving a void: Bryan Bennett, Terry Wilson, Travis Jonsen, Braxton Burmeister, etc.

This season, four-star quarterback Tyler Shough has earned the back-up role behind senior Justin Herbert. Shough found success in the home opener and gave fans a little insight into the future as Herbert’s heir. In the most substantial playing time of his career, Shough threw his first college pass and finished 8-of-9 for 92 yards and two touchdowns.

His performance wasn’t the type of awe-inspiring play that causes someone to bet Oregon will win the national championship next season. However, Shough made solid decisions, showed his accurate arm and toughness under pressure. He also used his legs to rush for 11 yards and made a couple heads up plays including one flick to tight end Spencer Webb while getting blitzed on third and nine.

“He was accurate and made a play with his feet as well, got outside the pocket, got tripped up or he would have gone for a little bit more,” Cristobal said. “We felt that since spring, his progress has been great. We trust him to go in there and make plays.”

5. HELLO, FUNA!

The highest ranked linebacker recruit in school history, Mase Funa, is already making an impact for Oregon. The Mater Dei High School alum is the only freshman to have two sacks in a game this season in the FBS. Funa’s four tackles for loss currently lead the Pac-12.

6. DEFENSE TURNING HEADS UNDER ANDY AVALOS

Oregon’s defense has dominated through the first two games of the season under defensive coordinator Andy Avalos. Opponents have reached Oregon territory just 10 times in 30 drives. Oregon’s defense has not allowed a first half touchdown in four consecutive games (28 drives). Also, the Ducks forced four turnovers against Nevada that resulted in 28 points.

7. A DUCK WIN WOULD…

Mark Oregon's 25th consecutive nonconference home win.

Improve Oregon to 8-0-1 against Montana.

Be Oregon's 11th win in the last 12 games at Autzen Stadium.

8. “MR. ELECTRICITY”

Montana senior punt returner Jerry Louie-McGee or “Mr. Electricity” earned ROOT Sports Big Sky Conference Special Teams Player of the Week after juking his way to a 74-yard punt return for a touchdown. Louie-McGee is the Griz’s special teams star and speed threat at wide receiver. In Saturday’s victory, he averaged 30 yards per kick on five returns for a total of 150 yards - the most in a game of any player in FCS football so far this season by a nearly 40-yards.

9. GRIZ QUARTERBACK IS “HEART AND SOUL OF THE TEAM”

Quarterback Dalton Sneed a fifth-year senior that has impressed Cristobal.

“(Sneed is) very tough, will throw his body around, there’s no hesitation in his game whatsoever,” Cristobal said. “The ball is out quick and it’s accurate. I think he’s a special player.”

Sneed has completed 67.8 percent of his passes for 696 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions this season.

10. HIGH-FLYIN’ GRIZ

Montana totaled 520 yards of offense in their victory over North Alabama last Saturday. The Grizzlies have the No. 7 passing and total offense in the FCS.

BONUS

The Ducks opened as five-touchdown favorites over Montana. Currently, the Ducks are 36.5 point favorites. 

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.

Confirmed: Justin Herbert's injury not serious, "good to go"

Confirmed: Justin Herbert's injury not serious, "good to go"

Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert's shoulder injury is a deep bruise that is not serious. I am told by an Oregon team source that the junior "should be good to go."

First reported by John Canzano. 

Herbert went down with an injury after being sacked in the second quarter in Oregon's 55-15 win over Oregon State. NBC Sports Northwest reported a photo of Herbert leaving the Oregon locker room at halftime on a cart. He returned to the sideline in the third quarter wearing street clothes. UO coach Mario Cristobal confirmed after the game that the junior “took a shot.”

Before leaving the game, the junior extended his steak with a touchdown pass to 27 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the nation. Without Herbert, backup Braxton Burmeister played and Oregon’s offense scored 34 points. 

A bruise shouldn't keep the quarterback from playing in a bowl game for Oregon. More updates to come. 

Bye week good timing for Oregon injuries

Bye week good timing for Oregon injuries

 

Oregon coach Mario Cristobal gave a bye week injury update on the Pac-12 coaches conference call, as the No. 18 Ducks prepare for No. 10 Washington. 

 

Senior running back Tony Brooks-James: Suffered an ankle injury during the loss to Stanford, played only on special teams at Cal. According to Cristobal, Brooks-James "practiced full-go" on Tuesday and is healthy.

Defensive end Austin Faoliu: After being held out of last week's game, Faoliu is close to fully healthy and Cristobal expects him to be "full go" by Wednesday or Thursday. 

Tight end Jacob Breeland: Traveled to Cal but did not play. According to Cristobal, Breeland "practiced full-go" on Tuesday and is healthy.

Backup quarterback Braxton Burmeister: Still rehabbing a minor procedure on his knee. Cristobal expects him to be practicing late next week.

Running back CJ Verdell: Reportedly had a minor knee injury which caused him to miss some of the second half. Cristobal called it "a scare" but that he could have gone back in the game. Verdell is 100 percent healthy and already practicing this week. 

Running back Darrian Felix: A bruised foot has limited his playing time but Cristobal expects him to practice this week.

 

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