justin herbert

Welcome to big-time college football -- and Guaranteed Slaughter Nights

Welcome to big-time college football -- and Guaranteed Slaughter Nights

Well, how do you think Oregon and Oregon State looked Saturday?

I’m asking you because I couldn’t tell. Mismatches don’t reveal much about a team and college football is in such a terrible rut when it comes to these kinds of games that I’m shocked there isn’t some sort of fan revolt. Oh, wait – fans LOVE these games when they’re on the winning side. No matter who they’re beating, they seem to take great pleasure in those 40, 50, even 60-point routs.

Anyway, I have no real idea who is good in college football – other than Clemson and Alabama, simply because they are who they are.

Do you realize that the top nine teams in the country yesterday outscored their opponents 457-118? That’s an average score of 51-13, by the way. And those games probably took in millions of dollars, not even including the TV treasure trove. Fans don’t like competitive games as much as they like blowouts in their favor. And the schedule for a lot of these teams this time of the year includes a few Guaranteed Slaughter Nights.

I guess there are a few things you can watch for in such games. They can be fun. But making judgments about a team’s worth? Hardly possible.

Still, here are my thoughts after a long day of dial-switching and DVR-draining while watching college football:

  • When will the winning coach take his starters out? For the Ducks, quarterback Justin Herbert played virtually the entire game. For the Beavers, Jake Luton was out after one series in the second half. Of course, Oregon State doesn’t have to worry about impressing voters every week. And really, the Duck win wasn’t as impressive as most people expected. UO Coach Mario Cristobal wanted to get his starters more snaps, he said. He should have scheduled Central Florida.
  • FBS teams shouldn’t be allowed to play FCS teams. Period. And no, I have no idea where those smaller-division athletic departments are going to find the money to fund their programs without these games. Aren’t there enough lousy teams for the Pac-12 to beat without scheduling teams from the Big Sky? Well, from what I’ve seen from the Pac-12 lately, maybe not. And yet the schools complain about having to play nine conference games! They ought to play 12 of them if they want to give all their schools a chance to win a few games.
  • I think Oregon is good. Actually, I think Herbert is REAL good. He’s the heart of that offense and makes it all go. The defense looks pretty good, and in the Pac-12, it doesn’t seem as if it’s going to get a real test against any offensive juggernauts. Even Washington State isn’t humming the way it has in the past. Oregon just may be the best of the lot – but I’d get Herbert encased in bubble wrap when my lead is more than 30 in the fourth quarter.
  • The Beavers did what they were supposed to do against a school named Poly Saturday. But they have a way to go. A long way, actually, But I think patience is required, just as it is at UCLA, where Chip Kelly inherited a dumpster fire. It takes years to turn these programs around. Give them time. Perhaps a lot of time. OSU was a mess when Jonathan Smith arrived.
  • Portland State stayed with Boise State longer than I thought possible on that horrid blue turf. By the way, until somebody invents grass the color of Boise State’s turf, they shouldn’t be allowed to use that stuff for games.
  • I heard all the hype about the Oregon offensive line prior to the start of the season but I don’t think the running game is where the Ducks want it to be. However, if Herbert stays as accurate as he has been, the runs will be there. Pac-12 defenses are going to have to respect the UO passing game to a degree that should make running easier.
  • Up next for Oregon and Oregon State? Stanford. Ironically, both teams will open conference play with the Cardinal. And if there was ever a season to do that, this might be it. Stanford gave up 45 points to USC and another 45 to Central Florida in the last two weeks.

Justin Herbert and his successor Tyler Shough are “two of the same”

Justin Herbert and his successor Tyler Shough are “two of the same”

At Oregon football practice, senior quarterback Justin Herbert lines up, commanding the quarterback unit with precise stretching, smiles and quiet high-fives. Lingering nearby, a Los Angeles Rams scout dutifully watches him.

The Eugene-native is months away from making millions in the NFL but first he has major goals in mind at Oregon. Intentionally or not, Herbert’s passion in his final season is bestowing major impact on the future of the Ducks program.

Back-up quarterback Tyler Shough is watching, emulating and ready to go at a moment’s notice. Besides learning from Herbert’s physical mechanics, Shough (rhymes with "Duck") has been impacted on how to carry yourself during practice and take command during a game.

“One thing I’ve seen out of Tyler is, he’s a lot more confident and he’s a lot more precise with what he does,” said wide receiver Bryan Addison. “He knows what he’s doing. (Herbert) is putting a great role model on him. Whenever Tyler is in the game it’s just like (Herbert) is in the game. Really, they are two of the same to me.”

Shough’s reliability illustrated reason to be confident in his role as back-up and a future starting Pac-12 Conference quarterback… A statement Oregon fans haven’t been able to rely on in over five seasons when former Duck Bryan Bennett transferred, the beginning of a slew of many, many, many transfers in and out of the position group.

The No. 15 Ducks got its most substantial glimpse of Herbert’s likely successor in Oregon’s 77-6 win over Nevada. The redshirt freshman threw his first college pass and finished 8-of-9 for 92 yards and two touchdowns. Shough took over in the third quarter and while he didn’t drop any jaws with downfield throws, he did display solid decision making, showed his accurate arm and toughness under pressure.

“He’s got the traits you are looking for at quarterback. In regards to command, personality, understanding the game and work ethic,” Offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo said. “Tyler has had those since he was a recruit… You can see his physical tools that will enable him to be successful, moving forward.”

The 6-foot-5, 220 pound passer made a couple heads up plays, including one flick to tight end Spencer Webb while getting blitzed on third and nine and showed off his mobility with a 11-yard run. Oregon Coach Mario Cristobal reflected that if Shough hadn’t been tripped up, he would have gone for more.

“I come off as a tall, lanky guy that’s not super fast but I can be sneaky fast,” Shough said. “I’ve been working on it a lot this offseason so it is kind of nice to get into those scenarios.”

Oregon’s likely 2020 starting quarterback’s first college completion was a quick screen pass to the perimeter to junior Jaylon Redd for a seven-yard touchdown. After playing in three games in 2018 without attempting a pass, what will Shough remember most about the moment?

“My teammates and sharing that moment with them,” Shough said. “It’s been a long time coming.”

Shough has been grinding in the Oregon weight room and with the second string for over a year and a half. The consensus four-star and top 300 prospect enrolled early in January of 2018 to get a jump start.

“Me and Tyler have some history,” said wide receiver Daewood Davis, who recently moved back to the position from defensive back. “When I was at receiver (last season), that was my guy, I was a two, he was a two. Man, me and Tyler have a connection. Seeing Tyler now, he’s grown up, matured and his arm is a lot stronger, his motion is a lot smoother. He’s a force to be reckoned.”

Since joining the Duck football program, Shough’s added 10 pounds of muscle and stole the show in Oregon’s spring game. Last May, he returned to Hamilton High School in Chandler, Ariz, where he earned academic honors and finished with a 4.0 plus GPA, to walk in his graduation.

His Instagram game has stayed the same- photos of the blonde-haired blue-eyed quarterback with friends and family, playing football and exploring the outdoors.

Herbert doesn’t have social media. If he did, his teammates say it’d be photos of the four “fs”: family, friends, fishing and football.
While Herbert and Shough’s social media would be similar there is one big difference between them… Experience. 

This Saturday against Montana, Shough will likely get some more of that. 

Shough was nearly perfect in his most substantial playing time in a Duck uniform, now he holds a chance to build off his performance against the Grizzlies.

Oregon’s home opener marked with momentous firsts and lasts

Oregon’s home opener marked with momentous firsts and lasts

EUGENE - It's been 294 days since Shout has echoed through Autzen Stadium. As the sun set, the third quarter closed and Oregon led by more than 50 points, the familiar tune sounded extra loud as the Ducks sideline grooved and gestured to the stands to “get a little bit louder now.”

In his final home opener, smiling senior linebacker Troy Dye danced alone to the Autzen Stadium tradition on the 15-yard line, pumping up the rowdy 50,920 fans that watched Oregon dominate Nevada, 77-6.

Teammate Brady Breeze was happy to see Dye let loose.

“He was just having fun, today was a day to have fun,” Breeze said. “Sometimes when you are playing football, you are so focused on making a call or the next play, that you don’t enjoy that you are playing in front of thousands of people and living your dream.”

It’d be an understatement to say that loads of fun was had by many Oregon players. Fourteen different Ducks recorded a reception and all 11 touchdowns were scored by different players. The offense rolled to make a strong statement that dates back a decade. The win marked the 10th straight home opener that Oregon scored 50 or more points. The Ducks’ 77 points tied a program modern era record and the Autzen Stadium scoring record.

The game didn’t start as rosy as it finished. Quarterback Justin Herbert’s first two drives were marked with a few uncharacteristic missed throws. However, the senior regained his composure after the underwhelming start with an explosive 66-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jacob Breeland. The score extended the quarterback’s nation-leading streak of 30 consecutive games with a touchdown pass.

Herbert caught fire after that first quarter touchdown, darting throws over the middle and commanding the offense to complete his next 10 of 11 passes. Herbert finished with 310 passing yards, five touchdowns and zero interceptions in his 30th career start.

Herbert joined Marcus Mariota and Joey Harrington as the only quarterbacks in program history with multiple games with five passing touchdowns.

The quarterback wasn’t the only Duck to shine in their final season opener.

Breeland led the Ducks with 112 receiving yards on four catches. The 6-foot-5 senior tight end set a career-high in yards and reached his first career 100-yard receiving game. In the post game press conference, Breeland was caught off guard when realizing that it was his last season opener as a Duck.

Aside from the “lasts” the victory showcased many “firsts” that are a peek into Oregon’s not-so-far-off future.

Backup quarterback Tyler Shough took control of the offense half way through the third quarter. Shough’s first career completion was also his first career touchdown: A seven-yard pass to wide receiver Jaylon Redd.

An astounding five Ducks scored their first-career touchdowns.

"We found a whole bunch of guys that want to make plays and are able to, so we put them in today,” Herbert said. “I'm really happy for them that they stepped up big-time. It's fun to watch."

Daewood Davis, who coaches moved from cornerback to receiver to help with depth in the depleted unit, scored on a tight rope 16-yard pass from Herbert.

Wide receiver Bryan Addison, who earned the start, scored a 24-yard touchdown with 12 seconds left in the first half.

Ryan Bay, a 6-foot-3 senior tight end who walked on to the team as a freshman, scored his first career touchdown with a 16-yard grab in the second quarter.

Hunter Kampmoyer, a tight end who began his career as a defensive end, scored on a 21 yard pass from Shough.

Safety Brady Breeze recovered a DJ Johnson forced fumbled and took it to the house.

The biggest tight end on the field was offensive lineman Brady Aiello wearing a number 82 jersey. Aiello got to do what most linemen only dream about: catch a touchdown pass from the quarterback they usually protect.

 “I’m very jealous of him,” Oregon coach and former offensive lineman Mario Cristobal said. “It’s what I wanted my entire life.”

On defense, inside linebacker Sampson Niu came away with first career interception and forced his first career fumble.

Not to be overshadowed is the “firsts” from the true freshman from UO’s highest-ever rated 2019 recruiting class. A total of 14 true freshmen saw action in the game.  Outside linebacker Mase Funa’s got his first career sack, the first of many for the highly-touted four-star prospect. Defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux provided a highlight, tackling the Nevada punter for an 11-yard loss after a bad snap. Tight end Patrick Herbert made his first appearance under the college football lights. Running back Sean Dollars recorded his first carry, finishing with 12 yards on four carries.

The blend of the firsts and lasts with the veterans and newcomers meshing cohesively together, is enough to make Dye (and the Oregon fan base) want to shout.

Instant analysis: Oregon dominates Nevada in home opener

Instant analysis: Oregon dominates Nevada in home opener

EUGENE, ORE. – The Oregon Ducks won their first game of the 2019 football season against Nevada in front of rowdy 50,920 fans in Autzen Stadium. The dominating win extends Oregon’s streak of consecutive wins over non-conference opponents at home to 24, a stretch that dates back to 2008.

It was all eyes on the No. 16 Ducks to see how the team would rebound from their last second loss to No. 11 Auburn in prime time… Would Oregon allow the Tigers to beat them twice? The answer is a resounding no.

Here are the top three takeaways from the game.

1. JUSTIN HERBERT WOKE UP (AND THE STREAK LIVES!)

Saturday marked Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert’s 30th start and his 30th straight game with a touchdown pass, the longest streak in the nation.

After an underwhelming start and a few missed throws from the senior, Herbert settled down and woke up the Autzen crowd with a 66-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jacob Breeland. The explosive play tied Breeland’s career long for a reception in a game.

Following that touchdown pass in the first quarter, Herbert completed the next 10 of 11 passes for 209 yards and four touchdowns. Herbert finished with 310 passing yards, five touchdowns and zero interceptions. Four of those touchdowns were caught by players who had never scored before: Daewood Davis, Ryan Bay, Brady Aiello and Bryan Addison.

 

2. DUCK DEFENSE DOMINATION

The Oregon defense entertained and delighted all night. Cornerback Deommodore Lenoir made a statement right away, stopping all three plays Nevada ran on their first possession. In the first half alone, the Ducks had eight tackles for loss and held Nevada to only 97 yards of offense.

The Ducks pestered Wolf Pack quarterback Carson Strong, grabbing two interceptions in the first half.  

True freshmen Mase Funa and Kayvon Thibodeaux provided highlights on back-to-back plays. Funa recorded his first career sack on third and 12 and then Thibodeaux tackled the Nevada punter for an 11-yard loss after a bad snap.

Oregon didn’t let up, DJ Johnson forced a fumble which Brady Breeze recovered and returned for a touchdown to extend Oregon’s lead to 62-6.

 

3. MONSTER DUCK TIGHT ENDS

Cue Oprah… “You get a touchdown, you get a touchdown, you get a touchdown!” With a depleted wide receiving corps, Oregon’s tight ends stepped up in a major way.

Breeland recorded his first career 100-yard receiving game and a career-high for receiving yards. The senior was dependable and a constant threat over the middle.

Ryan Bay scored his first career touchdown, a 16-yard grab in the second quarter. The 6-foot-3 senior came to Oregon as a walk-on from Tigard.

The biggest tight end on the field was offensive lineman Brady Aiello wearing a number 82 jersey. Aiello got to do what most lineman only dream about, catch a touchdown pass from the quarterback they usually protect.

Hunter Kampmoyer scored as well, a tight end who began his career as a defensive end.

Oregon had more than 10 receivers catch a pass. The Ducks offense rolled and made a strong statement that dates back a decade. The win marked the 10th straight home opener that Oregon scored 50 or more points.

 

More to come including videos and articles with quotes from Coach Mario Cristobal and Ducks players throughout the night.

Ducks started and ended their playoff run on the same night

Ducks started and ended their playoff run on the same night

If you’re one of those Oregon Duck football fans who believed your team had a real shot at getting into the Final Four this season, with a chance to play for the national championship, you just watched your season start and end on the same night.

Unless both the Ducks and Auburn Tigers go undefeated the rest of the way -- and that’s not going to happen – you have no chance. Sure, the Pac-12 conference championship is still in play. In fact, after the first week of the season, I’d have to say Oregon is the favorite to win it. But take a step back – what does that mean these days? This conference isn’t very good and that’s a fact.

The Ducks went down in a flurry of mistakes Saturday night in Arlington, Texas, and took the Pac-12 with them.

In many ways, it was an astounding defeat. Oregon owned this game most of the night – making Auburn’s freshman quarterback, Bo Nix, look like, well, a freshman. At the same time, the Ducks blended their running game with a lot of short passes from Justin Herbert to move the ball consistently. But what Oregon didn’t do was take advantage of all its opportunities.

The Ducks easily could have come away with two or three more touchdowns than they got. A dropped pass in the end zone, a fumble when on the doorstep of scoring – stuff like that matters.

All in all, I was impressed with Oregon’s discipline, demeanor and poise throughout the game. The Ducks have wiped away a lot of the silly stuff from the previous regime -- the over-the-top celebrations, posing, “sideline surfing,” taunting and extraneous stuff that doesn't help win games and can get you penalized. But right now, they’re trapped in a collision between head coach Mario Cristobal’s desire to be a power-running team and the fact that he has a quarterback touted as one of the best in the country. The end result is that it doesn’t appear Herbert has a creative and complete passing attack at his disposal.

I continue to be dismayed that this program has a big-time quarterback yet always seems low on receivers. They either can’t recruit them or for some reason can’t keep them healthy and neither of those things works very well. So we don’t see a lot of things out of the passing game that you might expect from a team with a talented and experienced quarterback.

I am not even sure that Justin Herbert's decision to return to the school for his senior season was the best move for him to showcase or develop his skills.

And Saturday night there were all those little things that can spell defeat against a good team – and seriously, I’m not even convinced Auburn is going to be anything special in the Southeast Conference. Just a few of the errors by the Ducks, in no particular order:

  • Obviously, dropped passes in the end zone come back to haunt you almost every time. Same with missed 20-yard field goals. Those things happening back-to-back are killers.
  • Down the stretch of the game, Oregon could have run more time off the clock in between plays on offense. Often, the Ducks snapped the ball with around 10 seconds left on the play clock. When he needed to do it, Chip Kelly was a master at retaining offensive tempo, yet draining the clock. That doesn’t matter too much until you lose on a touchdown with nine seconds to go in the game.
  • With five and a half minutes to play and the Ducks facing a fourth-and-one at the Auburn 41, they burned two timeouts trying to get their play and their personnel right – and the whole thing took place within spitting distance of the Oregon bench! Right in front of the coaches, where communication should have been easy. I just didn’t understand the chaos in that situation. And for a team that prides itself on its physicality and strength of its offensive line, going for it on fourth down was the right move. But it obviously wasn’t the right play. Or the right execution. And that’s when you could feel the game slipping away.
  • On its game-winning drive, I thought the Tigers, with an inexperienced quarterback, were making a huge mistake when they continued to throw the ball down the field while within field-goal range. They were out of timeouts and just one sack possibly could have ended the game. But instead, they scored. Auburn seemed to have more confidence in its freshman quarterback than the Ducks had in their senior QB, who was under wraps a good part of the fourth quarter when his coaches went conservative.
  • Why is it, by the way, that every fan in the stands and the pundits in the pressbox know when a team is playing it too safe in the late going, but the coaches don’t seem to get it?
  • By the way, what was with that Hail Mary pass from Herbert at the end? Do the Ducks ever practice that? Kid, I know you understand this, but the ball has to come down in the end zone. Games have been won that way – at least give it a chance to happen.
  • For me, it felt that all the good work the Ducks did through much of that game just went down the drain when Auburn stole it with nine second left. The storyline now won’t have anything to do with Oregon’s solid work for all but about five minutes of the game. It will be simply, when the victory was on the line, the Ducks – and the Pac-12 – didn’t have what it took to finish off what may or may not be a decent SEC team.

But what else is new?

Keys to an Oregon Duck win, Auburn Tigers to keep an eye on

Keys to an Oregon Duck win, Auburn Tigers to keep an eye on

It’s been almost 250 days since Oregon has played a football game. The anticipation is palpable for the season opener between the No. 11 Ducks and No. 16 Auburn Tigers.

BY THE NUMBERS, STATS AND GAMBLING SPREAD

A win would be Oregon’s first over a ranked team in a season opener since Wisconsin in 2001.


Numbers to know: Oregon brings back 17 positional starters from last year’s nine-win team, which is the fourth most in the nation. On offense the Ducks return 10 starters, including all five offensive linemen. The offensive line has a combined 153 career starts, which is the most in the nation.

Fun fact: A win would give Oregon its first four-game win streak (extending from 2018) since the 2015 season.


Fun fact 2: It’s not Oregon coach Mario Cristobal’s first meeting with Auburn. Cristobal’s record is 3-1 against Gus Malzhan's Tigers during his time as an Alabama assistant.

Betting line: Auburn is favored by 3.5 points.

SCOUTING REPORT

After beating then-No. 6 Washington, Auburn went 8-5 in 2018. Auburn has one of the toughest 2019 schedules in the nation and Coach Gus Malzahn enters his seventh year as head coach appearing on just about every ‘hot seat’ list in the country. The Tigers offense features true freshman five-star prospect Bo Nix starting at quarterback, three returning rushers, an unproven wide receiving corps and a veteran offensive line.

The daunting Auburn defense and possibly the best defensive line in the country is highlighted by Derrick Brown, Marlon Davidson, and Nick Coe. The battle won’t stop there. The Tigers’ defensive backs play extremely physical at the line of scrimmage, creating a challenge for Oregon’s largely unproven receiving corps.

The Tigers have ranked inside the top 15 nationally in scoring defense each of the past three seasons, allowing an average of 18.3 points per game over the three seasons.
National Stage: Hello, nation! ESPN’s College GameDay will open the football season on Aug. 31 at Sundance Square in Fort Worth, Texas to preview Oregon vs. Auburn. It marks the 25th time (14-10) in program history that the Ducks have been featured on College GameDay.

KEYS TO AN OREGON WIN

Protect quarterback Justin Herbert: It’s no secret that Auburn’s number one priority is getting consistent pressure on Herbert, who has the rare talent to take over the game. Both teams would like to lay claim to having the best offensive and defensive lines in the country. The Ducks return all five offensive lineman for a combined 153 career starts, which is the most in the nation. UO will need all that experience and for UO’s running backs to show their pass blocking improvements vs. Auburn.
"I think that is going to be a huge key,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “He can make all the throws and he's got really good receivers to throw to, so you've got to make him uncomfortable… we need to win the line of scrimmage.”

Capitalize on freshman mistakes: Nix, a former five-star prospect and top-rated dual-threat quarterback in the 2019 class, is not your average freshman. In his first ever game under the college football lights (in an NFL stadium), if he does make any errors, the Ducks must make the Tigers pay. A Duck pick-six could be the difference in this expected low-scoring game. Winning the turnover battle is key; The Tigers are 19-5 when they play turnover-free football under Malzahn.

Strike early: Coming off a less-than-exciting offensive performance in Oregon’s 7-6 Redbox Bowl vs. Michigan State, early execution to get in the end zone would greatly benefit the Ducks. Question marks have revolved around UO’s receivers for almost nine months after the departure of leading receiver Dillon Mitchell to the NFL. A big catch from starting wide receivers Juwan Johnson, Johnny Johnson III, or Jaylon Redd would calm the team and put Auburn on its heels. Running backs CJ Verdell and Travis Dye can’t give up against the Tigers that allowed only 3.7 yards per carry last season.

[READ: Oregon running back Travis Dye’s spin move isn’t his only weapon]

TIGERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON

DT Derrick Brown, DE Marlon Davidson and DL Nick Coe

Auburn’s defensive front returns all three starters that combined for 14 sacks last season. The Tigers trio is projected 2020 first round draft selections and has set a goal to allow only 3.3 yards per carry this season.

“They’re as physical and as impressive as you can see,” said Cristobal.

Oregon preseason All-American Shane Lemieux couldn’t compare Auburn’s to any he’s seen in his career. Lemieux said Washington, Utah, and Stanford feature physical defensive fronts, they’re not “even close” to what the Ducks are going to see against Brown, Davidson and Coe.

RB JaTarvious "Boobie" Whitlow

Malzahn listed six running backs on his week one depth chart and although he feels “confident that they could all possibly play.” Whitlow will be the first Tigers on the field. Auburn operates a run heavy attack and in his freshman campaign last season, Whitlow led the Tigers with 150 carries for 787 yards and six touchdowns.

HOW AND WHERE TO WATCH

Time: Saturday, Aug. 31, 4:44 p.m PT

Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas

TV: ABC

Tune in: Oregon IMG Sports Network

More Ducks:

Enough is enough; It’s wide receiver “acrobat” Johnny Johnson’s time

10 Numbers to know: Oregon vs. Auburn

Ducks happy to meet Auburn quarterback Bo Nix in season opener

Justin Herbert and Bo Nix could be a Disney movie Pt. 1: History

Justin Herbert and Bo Nix could be a Disney movie Pt. 2: Coach’s kids

Justin Herbert and Bo Nix could be a Disney movie Pt. 3: Legacy

Are Ducks more potent, Beavers better, Viks tired of Missions Almost Impossible?

Are Ducks more potent, Beavers better, Viks tired of Missions Almost Impossible?

Opening weekend, finally, for our area’s college football teams and I’m happy about that – primarily because stories from “fall camp” (even when it’s nowhere close to fall) are usually just a combination of hopeful hype and injury reports with little real news. I know, because I used to write those stories. Anyway, just a few random thoughts about the Ducks, Beavers and Vikings leading into Week 1:

  • Yes, I know bowl games are different than regular season games and not necessarily an indication of what’s to come for a team in the following season. But when I think about the Ducks and the upcoming year, it’s pretty hard for me to get the Redbox Bowl out of my mind. And I also understand that if you’re an Oregon football fan, you probably flushed that game out of your memory bank the day after that debacle. Certainly, pollsters don’t remember it, or I don’t think they’d be voting the Ducks as high as 11th in the AP preseason poll. But seriously, UO rushed for 37 yards on 27 carries and had only 11 first downs. Oregon won 7-6 against Michigan State. I saw that game as a summary of the season on offense for the Ducks. They underachieved with the ball, especially considering they had a quarterback who was touted as a Heisman candidate at the start of the season. I would hope they would make better use of Justin Herbert this year.
  • Oregon State has a long way to go from where it was last season just to become a respectable college football team. I am optimistic that Jonathan Smith can engineer a turnaround, but I don’t expect it to happen overnight. Can the Beavers upset Oklahoma State Friday night? I doubt it, but I also think they have their best chance to win early in the season, before the inevitable injuries start to pile up. Depth is going to be a problem, as it always is, for schools trying to make the climb from the bottom to even the middle of Power-5 conferences. It’s hard for them to recruit enough quality starters, let alone bench players, at this point of their development.
  • The prime funding mechanism for some FCS football programs has become sending their teams on Missions Almost Impossible to FBS schools, scooping up six-figure guarantees in exchange for playing the role of patsy for those higher-level teams. Meet Portland State football. The Vikings this year open their season at Arkansas and then also play on the road at Boise State. For Viking players, the only good thing about a game at Arkansas is they don’t have to undergo a long bus ride. I assume they will fly, as opposed to those long motor coach rides to other away games during the season. I realize that a few years ago PSU traveled to Pullman and upset Washington State. Stuff happens. But for me, there is something unseemly about a system that requires players to take a beating from more powerful schools, just for a paycheck they don’t get to share. But good luck, Vikings, stay healthy and remember, the Razorbacks went 2-10 last season, including a home loss to North Texas.

Justin Herbert and Bo Nix could be a Disney movie Pt. 3: Legacy

Justin Herbert and Bo Nix could be a Disney movie Pt. 3: Legacy

The season opener between No. 11 Oregon and No. 16 Auburn is beginning to look like the plot of a Disney movie. Two ranked opponents in the national spotlight, led by hometown quarterbacks who have been preparing their entire football career for a moment like this.

Oregon senior quarterback Justin Herbert and Auburn freshman quarterback Bo Nix have the opportunity to write the introduction to the 2019 football season. August 31st is the beginning of Herbert’s swan song and the start of Nix’s legacy.

A win for the Ducks would mark their first over a ranked team in a season opener since Wisconsin in 2001 and arguably Herbert’s most substantial victory in his career as a Duck.

[The plot thickens with Herbert and Nix’s family histories in part one]

[Part two: Coach’s kids groomed for starting roles at childhood dream schools]

Lasting legacy

While Herbert and Nix have strangely Disney-esque comparable pasts, this is where the story narrative differs.

A projected top 2019 NFL Draft selection, Herbert passed on millions from for one more season in an Oregon uniform with an opportunity to bestow a lasting legacy.

The sand is in the hourglass is running low for Herbert and the Ducks… If not now, when?

Nix’s hourglass hasn’t been flipped yet. He’s already making history.

Nix will become the first ever true freshman quarterback to start for the Tigers during week one of the modern era. The starter is expected to split some time with backup redshirt freshman Joey Gatewood. However, this is Nix’s chance to make this team and this season his own. Nix’s performance and the game outcome explicitly also effects Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, who has been featured on just about every ‘hot seat’ list in the country.

Nix holds the opportunity to start the ‘Bo Nix era’ at Auburn with a bang in front of the entire nation. His career will undoubtedly contain natural comparisons to his father, Patrick Nix who played quarterback for Auburn from 1992-95, while he attempts to get into the conversation with Tiger quarterback greats like Cam Newton (2010), Pat Sullivan (1969-71) and Jason Campbell (2001-04). The window to Nix’s college football career is just opening and his potential legacy is endless.

For Herbert, limited opportunities in an Oregon uniform remain. Time is of the essence for the senior.

The 6-foot-6, 237-pound quarterback with the powerful right arm and sneaky-fast wheels couldn’t leave the Oregon football program with unmet goals. His hunger to come back for another year was partly fueled by his desire to win big for the team he grew up cheering for.

“I don’t think we ended the year last year like I wanted to, we kind of fell off,” Herbert said in an interview with Talkin’ Ducks host Jordan Kent. “At times we were playing really good football and I know we were better than our record says. Coming back, I wanted to finish better.”

His rare talent emerged in his tremendous junior season, where he threw for 3,151 yards, 29 touchdowns and eight interceptions. However, the Ducks fell short of a Pac-12 title and barely squeaked by Michigan State in the Redbox Bowl to get their first bowl game win since 2014. Herbert entered last season as a dark-horse Heisman Trophy candidate and ended the season cut from All-Pac-12 teams… Hardly the “mic-drop” accomplishments that Herbert envisioned as a young athlete growing up a Ducks fan.

During his Oregon career, Herbert has overcome a broken collarbone that sidelined him for five games during his sophomore season and unprecedented coaching turnover. The Eugene-Native is the only quarterback in UO history that has played for three different head coaches in three seasons. In his 28 career starts, the Ducks win/loss record is an unimpressive 17-11, which doesn’t match the impressive natural football ability that compels NFL scouts to keep an analyzing eye on Herbert.

In the Herbert era, year-over-year the Ducks have shown progress; winning four games in 2016, seven games in 2017 and nine games in 2018. With Herbert at the helm, Oregon is averaging 38.3 points per game and has big wins over then-ranked No. 11 Utah in 2016, an overtime upset over rival Washington in 2018 and a victory against MSU in the Redbox Bowl.

The improving momentum is apparent and while those wins were significant, they were not legendary. Herbert’s resume is lacking championship recognition needed to be remembered alongside Duck quarterback greats like Marcus Mariota, Joey Harrington, Dan Fouts, Jeremiah Masoli, Darron Thomas, etc.

Entering his fourth season, and second under coach Mario Cristobal, much of Herbert’s legacy is yet to be determined.

The expectations are high. Herbert, who is on most short lists for this season’s Heisman Trophy, was named first-team quarterback in landslide fashion at Pac-12 Media Day. The senior received a first-team nod on 31 of 33 media members ballots.

His teammates gush that Herbert has never been better.

“He can make any throw in the world. I swear, I’ve seen him make every throw and it pisses me off every day,” linebacker Troy Dye said. “It’s super cool to have a quarterback like that because he’s a great leader, a great person and a great friend.”

Herbert enters his final season as a Duck with a streak of 28 consecutive games with a touchdown pass, the longest in the nation. His veteran offensive line is projected to be the best in the country and he utilized the summer break to better connect with his receivers. His leadership skills have grown immensely, altering the perception of his shy personality. He is receiving instruction from legends at his position.

Long story short, Herbert is putting it all together for an epic senior season that could be record shattering.

“He’s exactly what you want on your football team,” Cristobal said. “He acts like he’s a freshman that just got here and is trying to prove something.  He lives each day as if he’s the guy who’s trying to prove that he belongs here. When your best players are doing that, you’ve got a chance to be a good football team."

The Ducks are projected Pac-12 North Division champions. Oregon will have to overcome road battles at Washington, Stanford and USC to get to play for the conference title. If UO emerges atop the Pac-12 with double digit wins including a marquee victory over an SEC team, playoff discussions ensue.

As the Pac-12 Conference’s best shot at the college football playoff, Herbert has the chance to validate his stamp of greatness and accomplish the goals he returned for in his final Oregon football season. It begins Saturday, when the Ducks have a shot at upsetting the Tigers on a national stage behind Herbert’s right arm.

Beating one of the best defensive lines in the country in a rematch of the 2011 BCS National Championship game in prime time… To me, that sounds like a perfectly defining game to add to Herbert’s resume. Get the popcorn ready. 

Justin Herbert and Bo Nix could be a Disney movie Pt. 2: Coach’s kids

Justin Herbert and Bo Nix could be a Disney movie Pt. 2: Coach’s kids

The season opener between No. 11 Oregon and No. 16 Auburn is beginning to look like the plot of a Disney movie. Two ranked opponents in the national spotlight, led by hometown quarterbacks who have been preparing their entire football career for a moment like this.

A win for the Ducks would mark their first victory over a ranked team in a season opener since Wisconsin in 2001.


Oregon senior quarterback Justin Herbert and Auburn freshman quarterback Bo Nix have the opportunity to write the introduction to the 2019 football season. August 31st is the beginning of Herbert’s swan song and the start of Nix’s legacy.

[The plot thickens with Herbert and Nix’s family histories in part one]

Coach’s kids returning to father’s teaching

It wouldn’t be a Disney movie if the stars weren’t the coach’s kids, right? Each quarterback grew up with acute scrutiny as a coach's kid, which helped mature Herbert and Nix into their starting roles at ranked football programs.

Bo Nix is the son of former Auburn quarterback and college football coach Patrick Nix. Patrick Nix left his college coaching career, which included an offensive coordinator role at Miami, to join the high school ranks. He coached his son though all four years of his prep career in which the duo was wildly successful.

Bo Nix set Alabama state records for career total offense and touchdowns, running a similar type of spread offense that Auburn does- sometimes even identical Tigers’ plays. The Nix duo led Pinson Valley to its first ever Class 6A football championship in 2017 and then came back to do it a second time in Bo’s senior season. Bo earned the MVP in both championship games and became “Mr. Alabama Football” as a senior.

Safe to say, Bo Nix has been groomed to take command of the Auburn offense, down to the implementation of his high school playbook.

“Growing up my dad always said everyone’s always watching, no matter where you go, what you’re doing; somebody’s always watching,” Nix said to the Montgomery Advisor. “It’s a big thing to be a quarterback at a big school, and so I’m ready. I know what it brings, and like I said, my dad and mom both went through it, so they have done a good job raising me and teaching me how to handle these situations.”

Saturday marks Nix’s first college football career start, while it’s Herbert’s 29th career start. The two quarterbacks' experience may be different but the preparation to star for their childhood dream school is not.

Before Herbert, the 6-foot-6, 235-pound passer with the powerful right arm and sneaky fast wheels, became a projected top pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, he was a the leader of the Sheldon high school ‘Fighting Irish’ and a Ducks fan.

The Eugene-native admired former quarterback Marcus Mariota’s reign among others, but Herbert’s calm and focused demeanor did not come from a sports idol. Herbert’s approach largely came from his father, Mark Herbert, who coached Justin and his two brothers, Mitchell and Patrick, in youth sports.

“My dad had a big part of it,” Herbert said in a Talkin’ Ducks interview with host Jordan Kent. “He was my coach for most of my life so I picked up on things that he said and taught me.”

Mark coached by four principals: Never give up; do your best; always get better; and treat people the way you want to be treated.

Was there a time where Herbert needed his father to remind him of those rules?

“Plenty of times. With your dad being the coach, you can’t really get away with doing too much. He kept me on track,” Herbert said.

Herbert diversified in his athletic career at Sheldon. As a senior, the quarterback was named Southwest Conference Offensive Player of the Year. He earned first-team 6A all-state honors after passing for 3,130 yards and 37 touchdowns to lead Irish to the 2015 6A state semifinals. That same year in the spring, Herbert hit .400 and earned second-team all-state first baseman honors on the way to becoming a class 6A state baseball champion.

The three-star quarterback recruit had taken to visits to Northern Arizona and Portland State when Herbert got the call from then-Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich with an offer from the program in his backyard.

He didn’t hesitate and neither did his family. 

“I jumped on the bandwagon as soon as I could,” Herbert said.

Herbert knows Autzen Stadium just as well as Nix knows Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium. On Saturday, both talents will take their father’s teachings to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. This is where the story narrative differs.

Herbert passed on millions for one more season in an Oregon uniform with an opportunity to bestow a lasting legacy.

If not now, for Herbert and the Ducks… when?

[Part three: Time dwindling for Herbert's lasting legacy]

Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert divulges why he doesn't have social media

Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert divulges why he doesn't have social media

Oregon senior quarterback Justin Herbert sits down for an exclusive interview with Talkin’ Ducks host Jordan Kent in the UO theater room at the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex in Eugene, OR.

This six part series will dive into how Herbert became the 6-foot-6, 235-pound passer with the powerful right arm and sneaky fast wheels.

Have you ever wondered why Herbert doesn't have any social media? 

A quick search for the Eugene-native on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter and you'll find nothing. 
The decision to stay off social media helped drown out the noise for the projected as a top pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.  If Herbert wants to talk to his friends, he calls them. 

Check out the video above for more.

Part 1: Herbert was destined to be a Duck.

Part 2: Herbert’s expectations far different than reality

Part 3: Justin Herbert, M.D.

Part 4: Peyton Manning's influence on Herbert’s decision to return