Jaylon Redd

Positive Oregon football injury updates ahead of Civil War

Positive Oregon football injury updates ahead of Civil War

Oregon severely missed a few injured Ducks in their upset loss to Arizona State but head coach Mario Cristobal provided good news out of Eugene on Monday morning.

UO starting center Jake Hanson and slot receiver Jaylon Redd are expected to play in Oregon’s rivalry game vs. Oregon State this Saturday at 1 p.m. in Autzen Stadium. 

"We feel Jaylon Redd is healing up really well and feel he’s probably going to play," Cristobal said Monday. "We feel the same about Jake Hanson."

Redd, who has 42 catches for 392 yards and seven touchdowns this season, was in uniform at Arizona State on the Ducks sideline with his helmet in his hand, but did not see any action on the field. 

After the loss, Coach Cristobal said Redd didn't play because of an injury sustained late in the game last Saturday vs. Arizona. According to Cristobal, Redd tried to practice last week in a full capacity, but “couldn’t get it going.”

Hanson, who has made 47 starts over the past four seasons, did not see the field in the second half against ASU. Calvin Throckmorton moved to center from right tackle and Brady Aiello slid into the right tackle position.

Coach Cristobal indicated that Hanson “got injured,” but was unclear as to nature and severity of it.

What about CJ Verdell?

Oregon starting running back and leading rusher CJ Verdell did not finish Saturday's game with an injury of his own. Cristobal indicated Verdell left the game in the fourth quarter due to a “stinger,” but expects him to be fine to play against Oregon State. Against the Sun Devils, Verdell finished with 18 carries for 99 yards.

Despite only finishing three of the Oregon’s eight Pac-12 games, Verdell is nearing a 1,000 rushing yard season. The sophomore is currently fifth in the Pac-12 in rushing this season with 913 yards.

The Ducks (9-2, 7-1 Pac-12) and Beavers (5-6, 4-4) are meeting for the 123rd time on Saturday. An Oregon win would secure the 11th 10-win season in program history.

How Mycah Pittman's injury affects Oregon

How Mycah Pittman's injury affects Oregon

The Oregon Ducks (9-1, 7-0 Pac-12) have lost one of their most dynamic offensive weapons most likely for the rest of the season, due to injury. Freshman wide receiver Mycah Pittman’s broken arm suffered in the first quarter of Oregon’s 34-6 win vs. Arizona will sideline him for six weeks and creates a need for more contributions.

Is Pittman done for the 2019 season?

Oregon Coach Mario Cristobal communicated the possibility of Pittman returning to play in the Ducks’ bowl game. The College Football Playoff semifinal (Dec. 28) or Rose Bowl (Jan. 1) are about six weeks out.

Already this season, Pittman rehabbed back from a broken collarbone that caused him to miss the opening four games.

"He’s proven before he’s a quick healer," Cristobal said. "Our training staff, our medical staff is second to none. I mean the very best in the country… And Mycah is a guy that attacks every opportunity to get better a hundred miles per hour. If anyone can heal quickly, it will be him, and if the timeline matches up, certainly that’s a consideration."

How does this impact the depth chart?

Oregon lists freshman Josh Delgado behind starter Jaylon Redd at slot receiver, in Pittman’s role. The Ducks moved Daewood Davis once again back on offense to add depth. Listed backups Davis, Josh Delgado and Bryan Addison will likely see increased playing time with Pittman out.

How can Oregon replace Pittman’s contributions?

In six games, Pittman has 14 receptions for 197 yards and two touchdowns. His speed and relentless tenacity will be missed from the receiving corps. 

Without Pittman, look for starting playmakers Johnny Johnson III, Juwan Johnson and Jaylon Redd to continue their positive progress in the passing game with quarterback Justin Herbert.

Redd leads the team with nine touchdowns and has caught multiple passes in 13 straight games. Johnny Johnson III is coming off a four-catch performance vs. Arizona, including a 73-yard catch, the longest of his career and longest by a Duck in 2019. Juwan Johnson’s potential is also being realized, totaling 16 receptions, 263 yards, and four touchdowns in the last three games. He led Oregon with five catches, one touchdown and 93 yards vs. Arizona.

Who else is a possible backup receiver?

“Justin Collins is a guy last year in this game proved to be very valuable, caught a slant down there and got us in the tight red zone at the end of the half,” Crisotbal said. “He’s been coming along. He’s coming off an ACL as well.”

Cristobal also mentioned Isaiah Crocker, J.R Waters and Lance Wilhoite as options UO will explore. Although, Wilhoite and Waters are both coming off injuries and are likely not caught up to speed.

The Ducks travel to Tempe for their final conference road trip to face the Arizona State Sun Devils (5-5, 2-5 Pac-12) at 4:30 p.m., Saturday.

Juwan Johnson has a sour taste for USC

Juwan Johnson has a sour taste for USC

Oregon wide receiver Juwan Johnson is in the groove and it could get ugly for USC. The Penn State graduate transfer has unfinished business against the Trojans. In his redshirt season with then-No. 5 Penn State, USC hit a field goal as time expired to steal the victory in the highest-scoring Rose Bowl in history.

“We have some history and I have a little sour taste in my mouth from the last time we played them,” Johnson added. “You have to treat it like another game. If you try to hype up or dumb down a game, we are going to get beat like that.”

Johnson is excited to face the Trojans again, this time wearing green and yellow on Saturday at 5 p.m. (PT) when the No. 7 Oregon Ducks face USC for the first time since 2016.

Coming off a clutch performance in Oregon’s win over Washington State, the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Johnson has been elevated to first-team offense and will have a more prominent role. His two massive catches on the Ducks’ final drive set up the game-winning field goal. Perhaps even more impressive is his impact by doing the little things: he pancaked two defenders to lead the way for running back CJ Verdell’s 89-yard touchdown.

“He needed to get his feet wet a little more so he could show everybody what’s going on," fellow wide receiver Jaylon Redd said. “He’s been waiting patiently. I feel like it’s about to get real, real, real ugly out here right now.”

Johnson is feeling confident, healthy and in the groove, just in time for a pivotal matchup at L.A. Memorial Coliseum. USC (5-3, 4-1 Pac-12) is tied for first with Utah in the Pac-12 South division and the Ducks (7-1, 5-0 Pac-12) look to stay atop the North and on the path to the Pac-12 Title game.

It could be a preview of the Pac-12 Championship game. It definitely will be a test. Perhaps the hardest game remaining on Oregon's regular-season schedule, it’s the kind of game players transfer for.

As Johnson grew up in in Glassboro, New Jersey, his childhood dream was to play for Oregon. From across the country he was in awe the Oregon brand, LaMichael James, Josh Huff and De’Anthony Thomas. Huff is his favorite Duck receiver, and Johnson followed Huff’s career when he was with the Philadelphia Eagles for three seasons.

All the uniforms, tradition and brother rivalries aside, Johnson has a chance to turn a sour taste very sweet.

Oregon Ducks perplexed by Mike Leach's "Middle Earth" comments about Autzen stadium

Oregon Ducks perplexed by Mike Leach's "Middle Earth" comments about Autzen stadium

Another week, another Mike “Leach-ism”. The Washington State coach described Autzen Stadium as “Middle Earth” he continued to say he likes the unique atmosphere and considers it one of the loudest in the nation.

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

[RELATED: Preparing for Autzen's crowd noise is just another Thursday for Mike Leach]

Not sure what to make of that comparison? The Ducks are with you. I asked junior wide receivers Jaylon Redd and Johnny Johnson III, who were perplexed but agreed that there is nothing like Autzen Stadium. 
Enjoy his response in the video above. 

MORE DUCKS:

Numbers to know: Oregon vs. Washington State

How Brenden Schooler's transfer does/doesn’t affect the Ducks

Why a healthy Deommodore Lenoir is crucial for Oregon vs. Washington State

How Brenden Schooler's transfer does/doesn’t affect the Ducks

How Brenden Schooler's transfer does/doesn’t affect the Ducks

Senior wide receiver Brenden Schooler has entered his name into the transfer portal, sources have confirmed to NBC Sports Northwest.

Schooler, a two-time first-team All-Pac 12 special teams selection, made his debut against Cal after missing Oregon’s first four games due to a broken foot. He played in three games this season and has not used his redshirt, meaning he has one more year of eligibility as a graduate transfer.

In his three games, Schooler has only had two catches for 44 yards. During his absence, Johnny Johnson III, Jaylon Redd and Bryan Addison took over production as reliable targets for quarterback Justin Herbert.

Redd leads the nation with a touchdown reception in six straight games. Johnson III’s 30 catches this season is already more than his sophomore season total (17) and freshman season total (21).

Schooler returned from injury at the same time as freshman Mycah Pittman, who has found a more regular rotation with the receivers than Schooler has. Pittman has 148 receiving yards on nine receptions and one touchdown.

Schooler’s senior leadership and intangibles on the field would be sorely missed, especially considering senior Jacob Breeland is out for the season with injury. 

“The thing about Brenden is he’s not only a great player, he’s a great leader and I feel terrible for him because he is a tremendous human being… Off the charts,” Cristobal said in August after Schooler’s injury.

Schooler's decision to leave is likely playing time oriented. Simply put, the Ducks were forced find their groove while Schooler was out.

His departure would also be a hit to Oregon’s receiving unit depth. Will graduate transfer Juwan Johnson or Josh Delgado step into a contributing role?

The Dana-Point, California native has a brother, Colin, who plays for the Arizona Wildcats.

Schooler has totaled 43 career catches for 521 yards and four touchdowns in his Duck career. He started at safety as a true freshman finishing with 74 tackles and four interceptions.

Numbers to know: Oregon Ducks vs. Washington Huskies

Numbers to know: Oregon Ducks vs. Washington Huskies

No. 12 Oregon is flying into Seattle, WA on a five game winning streak to face rival No. 25 Washington. The Ducks (5-1, 3-0 Pac-12) look to stay atop the Pac-12 North Division, while the Huskies (5-2, 2-2) are in the hunt to stay in the mix for the division title. It’s the 112th meeting between the Northwest foes and a ranked pivotal division matchup.

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

BETTING LINE

Oregon is a road favorite. The Ducks opened as 3.5-point favorites against the Huskies. The line has since moved to 2.5-points. The over/under is 55 total points.

FIVE-GAME DUCK DOMINANCE

Oregon has outscored its last five opponents 195-25. The Ducks have scored 27 touchdowns while giving up just one touchdown. UO has held all five opponents to under 10 points, the first time they’ve done so since 1958.

RED ZONE STOPS

Opponents haven't scored a touchdown against Oregon in nine red zone trips. On the season, the Ducks have only allowed two touchdowns of opponents’ 14 red zone trips, a rate of 14.3 percent that leads the nation.

FAST WASHINGTON STARTS

Through seven games, UW has outscored opponents 90-6 in the first quarter.

HUSKIES STOUT PUNT GAME

Washington is 13th in the nation in net punting (42.78 yards). The Huskies have allowed only one touchback and seven punt return yards this season.

HISTORY

In games played in Seattle, the Huskies are 32-21-4 vs. Oregon. In games played in Eugene, the Ducks hold the edge over UW, 18-13. Oregon has won 18 of the last 24 games against Washington, including last season’s 30-27 overtime win in Eugene.

PENEI SEWELL, BLIND SIDE BODYGUARD

Oregon sophomore left tackle Penei Sewell has been racking up the honors this season. Sewell has been named to Pro Football Focus’ National Team of the Week three times, received Outland Trophy's Offensive Lineman of the Month award in September and earned Pac-12 honors four times. His PFF running grade (94.1) leads the nation and has only committed one penalty in 846 career snaps. Oregon is 11-2 in two seasons with the 6-foot-6, 325-pound lineman starting.

BIG REDD

Junior wide receiver Jaylon Redd has scored a receiving touchdown in five consecutive games, tied for the longest streak in the nation and the first Duck to do so since Josh Huff (2013).  Against Colorado, he scored a rushing and receiving touchdown for first time in his career and the first Duck wide receiver to do so since Bralon Addison (2015).

TO DYE FOR

Senior linebacker Troy Dye left the Colorado game with an injury but is cleared to play at Washington. Saturday will be his 40th consecutive start. His career statistics are among the best in the nation: 3rd in tackles, 4th in solo tackles, 7th in tackles/per game and 11th in tackles per loss/game.

A WIN WOULD...

Improve Oregon to 4-0 in Pac-12 play for the first time since 2013 and become the first Pac-12 team since Stanford in 2017 to start 4-0 in conference play.

BONUS: Good and bad injury updates

[READ: How Oregon's offense changes without Jacob Breeland]

With NFL Scouts in the house, Justin Herbert shows why he is the "best quarterback in college football"

With NFL Scouts in the house, Justin Herbert shows why he is the "best quarterback in college football"

Quarterback Justin Herbert gave the people the show that they’ve longed for.

With an astounding amount of NFL scouts present, Herbert provided highlights that won’t soon be forgotten by Oregon fans, Colorado’s defense or the professional teams with a top-10 draft selection.

No. 13 Oregon’s offense exploded to thump Colorado 45-3 on a chilly Friday night game in Autzen Stadium. The chills weren’t caused from the wind, but instead from thrilling throws from the 6-foot-6 240-pound passer with deadly arm.

“The offense was scoring so fast, we would sit down to try to drink some water and the offense had already scored,” junior safety Brady Breeze said. “It’s amazing to see.”

Herbert made it look easy to his leading receiver, senior tight end Jacob Breeland. On the first drive, Herbert connected with Breeland for a seven-yard touchdown to give the Ducks (5-1, 3-0 Pac-12) a quick lead. The touchdown extended Herbert’s nation leading touchdown pass streak to 34 straight games. It also marked Breeland’s sixth touchdown of the season, first among tight ends.

RELATED: [Breeland was off to a hot start before suffering an game-ending injury in the first quarter]

Junior wide receiver Jaylon Redd may need to ice his hands after Herbert’s 13 yard touchdown bullet in the third quarter. Redd's diving touchdown grab was his second touchdown of the game and marked his fifth straight game with a receiving touchdown, the longest streak in the country.

“It’s sensational,” said Redd describing catching passes from Herbert.

“Herbert is the best quarterback in college football right now, so anytime I get an opportunity I’m doing whatever I can to please him.”

Then there was the multiple highlights between Herbert and freshman phenom Mycah Pittman. Oregon Coach Mario Cristobal decided to go for it on fourth and five, and the Ducks converted the first down with a crossing route to Pittman, moving the chains and sparking the offense.

The duo shined again to set up a last second touchdown before the half came to a close. Herbert let it fly to Pittman for a 39-yard reception to put the Ducks in the red zone.

He finished 18-32 for 261 yards and two touchdowns. Yes, Herbert’s stunning passes were against a Colorado pass defense that entered the game ranked 124th in the nation.

But, they could have played down to their opponent. They didn’t and the Duck offense gained rhythm and confidence as they enter the toughest part of their schedule. Herbert showed up in the spotlight and now he must shine the rest of the way for Oregon to stay atop the North Division through tougher opponents.

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.

Which Ducks receiver could be Oregon's next offensive weapon?

Which Ducks receiver could be Oregon's next offensive weapon?

The departure of Duck Dillon Mitchell to the NFL begs the question... Is there a reliable pass-catcher on the Oregon roster who can be an offensive weapon?

In the video above, I lay out the options of who quarterback Justin Herbert could sling the ball to in 2019. 

[READ: The hunt is on for Oregon football’s next leading receiver]

The hunt is on for Oregon football’s next leading receiver

The hunt is on for Oregon football’s next leading receiver

Ring the alarm bells, warm up the searchlight, the hunt is on for Oregon’s next leading receiver. Quarterback Justin Herbert has lost his most reliable target for 2019.

Coming off of one of the best seasons a Duck has ever had, Dillon Mitchell will not return to Oregon for his senior season and has declared for the 2019 NFL Draft.

Mitchell’s parting moment following Oregon’s victory over Michigan State in the Redbox Bowl was touching. After setting a new program single-season receiving record with 1,184 yards (breaking Josh Huff’s 1,140 record set in 2013) and catching the game-winning touchdown pass, he was awarded offensive MVP during the on stage trophy presentation… Which he then gave to his dad in the stands.

"It has been great living a childhood dream these last three years. Ever since 7th grade, I wanted to be an Oregon Duck. I fell in love with the uniforms, the players, the fast spread offense, and the Nike brand,” Mitchell said in an announcement on his Twitter account. “I will always cherish my time here and know that I am an Oregon Duck for life.”

Mitchell, the Pac-12 leader in receiving yards this season, had 75 receptions for 1,184 yards and 10 touchdowns, both ranking as third-most in a season in program history. He became quarterback Justin Herbert’s go-to receiver, and in a season plagued with dropped passes, his most reliable target. Herbert was even criticized for throwing to Mitchell too often.

Oregon's receiving corps will severely miss Mitchell. UO's second returning receiver, sophomore Jaylon Redd, has less than half of Mitchell's receptions and yards with 368 yards on 31 catches.

The Ducks will return all 10 of their other starters on the offensive side of the football for the 2019 season including; Herbert and offensive linemen Calvin Throckmorton, Shane Lemieux, and Jake Hanson. But is there a reliable pass-catcher on the roster who can be an offensive weapon?

The pool is large for Oregon’s next No. 1 receiver, with new names added to the list that could make an impact immediately.

Redd, a junior next season, is an option. He finished second on the team in receptions (38), yards (433) and touchdowns (5). He’s listed as 5-foot-8, 178-pounds, but his smaller stature doesn’t stop him from getting physical. His blocking ability has impressed his coaches and teammates. He gives Oregon a speed option in the slot.

Also returning is Brenden Schooler and Johnny Johnson. Neither had much production in 2018, dropping key passes, and would need to greatly improve to become a go to target for Herbert.

The jury is still out for Bryan Addison and Isaah Crocker, who both redshirted this season. Addison, the 6-foot-5 former Top 100 recruit, played in four games and caught one pass for 12 yards. Addison made huge strides as a redshirt, according to offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo. At 6-foot-1,175-pounds, the former four-star recruit, Crocker, has the tools to also make an impact in 2019.

The Ducks needed talented pass catchers in the 2019 class and they signed four, four-star receivers and one underrated three-star athlete during the early signing period. There are at least two commits that could conceivably make an impact as soon as next season.

Mycah Pittman, remember that name. Pittman is the third-highest rated wide receiver to ever sign with the Ducks. The 5-foot-11, 200-pounder is the type of talent that could step in from the start. Pittman has strong hands, a running back body and excels at getting separation. He also could make an impact on special teams. Cristobal called him, "an explosive and strong route runner.”

The lone in-state prospect, four-star tight end Patrick Herbert, also could contribute right away. He is the fourth highest-ranked tight end prospect to ever sign with Oregon and the little brother of quarterback Justin Herbert. At 6-foot-5, 225-pounds, Herbert’s strength is catching the ball in traffic.

Oregon also adds four-star athletes Lance Wilhoite and Josh Delgado, two of the 10 highest-ranked wide receivers to ever sign with Oregon, to its roster.

The opportunity for playing time is plentiful. Can Oregon’s young talent make the transition to college football, impact the 2019 season and live up to expectations? Will the returning Ducks find a way to increase production from 2018?

Hopefully the answer to those two questions is yes, otherwise Herbert and Oregon’s offense could be in trouble.