Oregon

Penalties are hot lava, fluid personnel groups, and more from Oregon Ducks Media Day

Penalties are hot lava, fluid personnel groups, and more from Oregon Ducks Media Day

EUGENE - Oregon is three days into its fall football camp under new head coach Mario Cristobal and there are already a few surprises.

The Ducks’ true personalities shined in a game of ‘would you rather’ (videos coming soon!) and gave insights into who will become a household name this season.

I had a chance to interview quarterback Justin Herbert, offensive lineman Shane Lemieux, wide receiver Dillon Mitchell, defensive end Jalen Jelks, linebacker Lamar Winston Jr. and defensive back Ugo Amadi one on one. My takeaways:

- Penalties are hot lava for the Ducks this season. Oregon was the worst team in college football in penalty yards last season, averaging a national-worst 88.3 penalty yards per game. Over 13 games the Ducks totaled 1,148 penalty yards and were called for a penalty 9.4 times per game. What is Cristobal doing to improve discipline? The Ducks have officials at practice that join the coaching staff and players during film sessions to correct bad habits.

“You’re either teaching it or allowing it to happen,” Cristobal said. “And we allowed it.”

- Coaching duties are set. Quarterback and tight ends coach Marcus Arroyo will handle the passing game and be the primary play caller. However, Cristobal will be on the headset and can over rule calls. Running backs coach Jim Mastro is the run game coordinator. Defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt will handle the defensive game planning with help from safeties coach Keith Heyward and associate head coach and defensive line coach Joe Salava’e.

[WATCH: Cristobal continues to impress on the recruiting trail]

- Oregon is experimenting with fluid personnel groupings. “No one” is off limits to play on both sides of the ball, Cristobal said. Specifically, freshman Bryan Addison and sophomore Jaylon Redd could play wide receiver and defensive back. Also, defensive linemen could be used in jumbo packages on offense.

- Oregon has serious offensive line depth. Cristobal said he plans on regularly rotating 8-10 offensive lineman whom he said were good enough to help the Ducks “win championships.” Last season the starting offensive linemen took 900 snaps; Cristobal would like to spread out the playing time this season.

- Young Ducks are impressing veterans. Herbert picked redshirt freshman running back CJ Verdell as a player he’s expecting to surprise fans this season. Dye thinks freshman Adrian Jackson could have an instant impact at inside linebacker. Mitchell has been impressed with freshman Jalen Hall at wide receiver.

- Herbert and Mitchell have been working on chemistry and it’s paying off. Herbert described Mitchell as “soft spoken, like me” and that they both have worked on breaking down barriers off the field to develop better chemistry on the field. Herbert has noticed a difference in their connection already in fall camp. Mitchell is excited to be utilized both on the outside and in the slot this season.

-The Ducks have beefed up in the weight room. Whatever Oregon’s strength and conditioning coordinator, Aaron Feld, is doing is working. "Flex Friday" is a small part of the infectious energy Feld has brought to the Oregon weight room. Herbert and wide receiver Daewood Davis have both put on close to 20 pounds. Senior running back Tony Brooks-James has added 10-13 pounds. Troy Dye, Jalen Jelks, Ugo Amadi and LaMar Winston all appeared much bigger. 

A couple fun notes:

- Cristobal is a fisherman. He caught 31 rainbow trout on a fishing trip with his mom over this summer.

- Growing up a Duck fan, Herbert owned Lamichael James, Darron Thomas and Marcus Mariota jerseys.

- Outside linebacker La’Mar Winston Jr. studied art abroad in Paris this summer. He conquered his fear of heights at the Eiffel Tower and ate Duck for the first time because it was the most expensive item on the menu.

Oregon left off Top 25 preseason coaches poll

Oregon left off Top 25 preseason coaches poll

Oregon did not make the cut in the preseason college football coaches' rankings released Thursday.

The defending-champion Alabama Crimson Tide took the top spot. 

Oregon was the third team listed in the "others receiving votes" category with 105 points (meaning they would be ranked 28th). Oregon was last ranked in the coaches poll during week four of 2017, before the Ducks lost to Arizona State. 

[READ: Oregon football roster and injury updates]

Three Pac-12 teams are in the top 25; Washington at No. 6, Stanford at No. 13 and defending Pac-12 Champion USC at No. 15. 

Amway Coaches Poll, Aug. 2

1. Alabama (61) 1,621
2. Clemson (3) 1,547
3. Ohio State (1) 1,458
4. Georgia 1,452
5. Oklahoma 1,288
6. Washington 1,245
7. Wisconsin 1,243
8. Miami 1,091
9. Penn State 1,050
10. Auburn 1,004
11. Notre Dame 892
12. Michigan State 870
13. Stanford 768
14. Michigan 752
15. USC 691
16. TCU 530
17. Virginia Tech 524
18. Mississippi State 407
19. Florida State 328
20. West Virginia 310
21. Texas 265
22. Boise State 261
23. UCF 259
24. LSU 254
25. Oklahoma State 168

Others receiving votes: South Carolina 138; Florida 135; Oregon 105; Utah 81; Texas A&M 67; Northwestern 67; Kansas State 35; Florida Atlantic 27; Boston College 23; Memphis 23; NC State 22; Troy 19; Arkansas State 19; Appalachian State 16; San Diego State 15; Kentucky 8; Iowa 8; Iowa State 8; Washington State 7; South Florida 6; Duke 5; Fresno State 4; Louisville 3; Houston 2; Arizona 2; Northern Illinois 1; Army 1.

Oregon football roster and injury updates

Oregon football roster and injury updates

Oregon coach Mario Cristobal spoke to the media today ahead the Ducks' fall camp. He gave a roster and injury update. 

2018 WR signee Jalen Hall is not on the roster to enter fall camp. Hall signed with Oregon in February, made an appearance for one spring practice and then returned home to Long Beach to attend a personal matter. 

Outside linebacker D.J. Johnson must sit out in 2018 to serve a year of residency. Johnson will redshirt for his sophomore season after his transfer waiver request was denied.

Defensive tackle Malik Young not granted extra year by the NCAA.

[READ: Changes coming to Autzen Stadium next season]

Grad transfer wide receiver Tabari Hines had a minor knee procedure but will be available for game one and full go for game three.

He also added that Nick Pickett, Jake Hanson and Sampson Niu (who missed spring practices) will be available and healthy to start fall practices. 

Big Dance hopes on the line for Oregon vs. USC in Pac-12 semifinal game

Big Dance hopes on the line for Oregon vs. USC in Pac-12 semifinal game

Pac-12 Semifinal: #6 Oregon (22-11, 10-8) vs. #2 USC (25-7, 12-6)


It’s been a dramatic journey for Oregon to reach the Pac-12 tournament semifinal game.

The Ducks trailed by as many as 11 points to Utah in the second half of the quarterfinal game, but a late rally and some last-minute heroics from MiKyle McIntosh and a game saving block from Kenny Wooten sealed the 68-66 victory over No.3 seed Utah

Oregon will face No. 2 seed USC at 8:30 p.m., Friday night. USC has topped Oregon in close victories in the schools’ two meetings so far this season.

On Jan. 18, the Trojans beat Oregon, 75-70, in Eugene and then earned a 72-70 victory over the Ducks at the Galen Center on Feb. 15.

USC’s Jordan McLaughlin has been a handful for Oregon this season. He had a near triple-double in the first meeting with 11 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists. In the second game, he had a double-double with 11 points and 11 assists.

USC had a first game bye and then held Oregon State to 31 percent shooting in a 61-48 victory to reach the semifinal game. Chimezie Metu had 22 points and 11 rebounds and two blocks in the Trojans victory over the Beavers.

Oregon has played eight straight games that have been decided by single digits, including three that went to overtime.  

Will the comeback Ducks strike again? Oregon is in a position where they likely need to win the Pac-12 Tournament to get to the NCAA Tournament.

The Trojans have the resume of a bubble team, another win would be a significant boost to their tournament resume.

Former Oregon defensive coordinator Brady Hoke joins Panthers' staff

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Former Oregon defensive coordinator Brady Hoke joins Panthers' staff

Longtime college coach and former Oregon football defensive coordinator Brady Hoke is getting his first NFL job.

Hoke will be the Panthers’ defensive line coach, Alex Marvez of Sporting News reports.

The Panthers had an opening at the position because they promoted defensive line coach Eric Washington to defensive coordinator after Steve Wilks left to become head coach of the Cardinals.

Hoke is best known for his four seasons as head coach at Michigan. He’s also been the head coach at Ball State and San Diego State, and he finished last year as the interim head coach at Tennessee after spending most of the year as the Volunteers’ defensive line coach.

Helfrich hired as Chicago Bears offensive coordinator

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Helfrich hired as Chicago Bears offensive coordinator

Former Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich is headed to the NFL. The Chicago Bears have hired Helfrich to be offensive coordinator, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports. 

Helfrich will be coaching two of his former Oregon players, offensive linemen Kyle Long and Hroniss Grasu. 

"Beyond excited and thrilled to be working with Coach Helf again," said Grasu. "Love the guy and his family. We are very fortunate to have him."

Helfrich was the offensive coordinator of the Ducks from 2009-2012 and moved into the head coaching spot after Chip Kelly left for the Eagles. He won 33 games in his first three seasons and went to a national title game before being fired after going 4-8 during the 2016 season.

It was rumored that Kelly offered the UCLA offensive coordinator job to Helfrich. 

Jordon Scott named to freshman All-America team

Jordon Scott named to freshman All-America team

EUGENE, Ore. – Oregon defensive lineman Jordon Scott has been named to the 17th annual Football Writers Association of America Freshman All-America Team.

 

Scott (Largo, Fla. / Pinellas Park HS) finished his freshman season with 34 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and two sacks while starting 11 of Oregon’s 13 games. He had a season-high five tackles at Washington earning a spot on that week’s Pro Football Focus All-Pac-12 Team. Scott had multiple tackles in 11 games, including the last 10.

 

Scott, who was previously named the 247Sports True Freshman All-America Team, is the eighth Oregon player to be named to a FWAA Freshman All-America Team. He joins Haloti Ngata (2002), LaMichael James (2009), John Boyett (2009), De’Anthony Thomas (2011), Tyler Johnstone (2012), Royce Freeman (20014) and Troy Dye (2015).

 

Brackets Revealed for PK80

Brackets Revealed for PK80

The brackets for the much-hyped PK80 tournament have been released, and if you are a fan of college basketball you are in for a treat.

The tournament, boasted as one of the largest regular season tournaments in college basketball history, features 16 teams – a list that includes a combined 24 National Championships, three of last season’s Final Four teams, as well as five other teams that made the field of 64 last season.

PK80 will consist of two brackets, “Victory” and “Motion,” with each bracket crowning their own champion over the weekend. 

According to a press release, the names were chosen to pay tribute Nike and Phil Knight –

- “Victory”: In Greek mythology, Nike was considered the goddess of Victory

- “Motion”: The swoosh logo is not only meant to represent motion, but to also resemble the wings of the goddess Nike

Here is a quick breakdown of both:

VICTORY:

The “Victory” bracket will play host to local teams Oregon and Portland, 2017 National Champions North Carolina, as well as UConn, Georgetown, Oklahoma, Michigan State, and Arkansas.

Round 1 will see North Carolina vs Portland, Arkansas vs Oklahoma, Georgetown vs Michigan State, and UConn vs Oregon.

MOTION:

“Motion” will be headlined by 2017 runner-up and Northwest favorite Gonzaga, along with fellow local school Portland State. They will be joined by Coach K and the Duke Blue Devils, Texas, Stanford, Ohio State, Florida, and Butler.

Round 1 will see Duke vs Portland State,  Butler vs Texas, Florida vs Stanford, and Gonzaga vs Ohio State.

Click here to view a printable bracket

The two brackets will run simultaneously at Moda Center and Veterans Memorial Coliseum from Thursday, Nov. 23 to Sunday, Nov. 26, with no games being played on Saturday.

Note: The champsions of the individual brackets will not play eachother, instead the brackets are being treated like two individual tournaments. 

For more information visit pkinvitational.com

 

 

 

Ducks aren't done writing their story

Ducks aren't done writing their story

GLENDALE, Ariz. - Oregon traveled to Arizona for the Final Four with a friendly reminder onboard of the heights the basketball program has achieved in the past and what the goal is this weekend in the desert. 

The Ducks brought with them the 1939 national championship trophy won by the "Tall Firs" back when the team was actually called the Webfoots. 

Current players took photos of and with the trophy, touched it and allowed its inspiration to soak in. 

"It’s a motivation to bring another one back," UO junior forward Dillon Brooks said.

As sophomore guard Tyler Dorsey put it, the Ducks aren't ready to close this chapter. 

“We’re definitely making history and that should be talked about, but we have to keep writing the history and win the national championship," he said. "We’re not done, yet, and we know that as a team."

No. 3 Oregon (32-5) will play No. 1 North Carolina (31-7) at 5:45 p.m. on Saturday at University of Phoenix Stadium. 

For the Tar Heels, who have now been to 20 Final Fours with five national championships, it's a chance to atone for last year's heartbreaking, 77-74 loss to Villanova in the championship game on a buzzer beater. 

“They are experienced and they want to get back to that game," Dorsey said.

Oregon has already tasted its own form of redemption by reaching the Final Four after losing badly last season to Oklahoma in the Elite Eight. As for the Tar Heels' goals, Brooks said they aren't Oregon's concern. 

“We faced a lot of hot teams, a lot of teams that had motivation to go far, like Michigan, Kansas and Rhode Island," Brooks said. "We just try to crush that all down and try to play our game and really be confident in ourselves.”

UO coach Dana Altman said the Ducks have done well sticking to their routine. 

"It was a little easier the last two weekends because there wasn't all the hype and the media and so forth," he said. "But we're going to try to keep it as close to our routine as possible, and try to get the guys to focus on the game Saturday. And we get to practice here when we get done with all this in just a little bit and hopefully get them refocused and ready to go for North Carolina."

Oregon isn't losing out on any fun. They have enjoyed themselves. The idea is to not allow the fun to interfere with the goals.

“Now we have to set a new mindset,” UO forward Jordan Bell said. “It’s another four-team tournament. We’ve got to win this tournament and if we win it, it’s finally done and we can celebrate it.”

The 1939 trophy serves as a reminder. 

“It was a great feeling to have that there,” Brooks said.

A companion for that national title trophy can't be had on Monday, however, if the Ducks don't win on Saturday. 

“We can be out of here Saturday if we lose that game," Dorsey said. "So, we’re going to enjoy the process. We’re going to soak it all up. It’s an experience of a lifetime that many people don’t get. You definitely have to enjoy it in the moment.”

Kansas' Landen Lucas faces father Richard Lucas' former team in Elite Eight

Kansas' Landen Lucas faces father Richard Lucas' former team in Elite Eight

KANSAS CITY - It finally happened during Landen Lucas' freshman year in high school. 

He took his dad in a game of one-on-one, 21-14. Took him to school by using all of the tricks of the trade his father Richard Lucas, a former star at Oregon from 1987 through 1991, has passed on to him. 

"It was a dark day," the 6-foot-6 Richard Lucas said outside of the Westin Hotel where he was staying in Kansas City. 

Landen remembers it differently. It's more of a fond memory for him, especially given that his dad never took it easy on him even as a young child.

"I wanted him to earn it," Richard said. 

Landen earned it and then some. 

"A couple of years after that, we played again - I was out of shape, that's my excuse - but I couldn't even get a shot off," Richard Lucas, 47, said. "He was so much more athletic and long and stronger."

The 6-10 Landen, who averages 7.9 points and 8.4 rebounds per game while shooting 64 percent, has dominated the former Duck center ever since. On Saturday in the Elite Eight, he will try to do the same against the current Ducks in a game that will tug at the heart strings for both. 

Both Landen and his father, of course, absolutely want No. 1 Kansas (31-4) to be victorious. But that doesn't mean there won't be some strong emotions pulling them the other way, as well.

"It's a very weird thing for me," Landen said Friday at the Sprint Center. "Especially because just growing up, I always watched Oregon. Loved Oregon because of my parents and what dad was able to do there...It's a connection that was cool and all, but the second I came to Kansas it was all about Kansas, and now them being the opponent, I'm just excited about it and excited to go out and play."

--- Growing up a duckling

Landen's childhood was painted green and yellow from an early age. His father's love for Oregon permeated throughout the house, shaping his son's admiration for the Ducks. 

"Growing up I just wanted to be like him," Landen Lucas said. "I would always watch the tapes that he had...He has his highlight tape he will show me every now and then when he wants to brag a little bit. But it is fun to watch him and see what he did in college."

Richard Lucas, who appears as a panelist on CSN's Talkin' Ducks, did the dirty work for the Ducks. Rebounding. Blocking shots. Hustle plays.

"I realized very quickly that if I rebounded the basketball the coaches had a tough time not playing me," Lucas said. "Then the points came."

He passed on that work ethic to Landen. When Landen played youth games as young as age 7, his father would be there barking at him to box out and rebound.

Landen listened.

"He was able to do that for his team, and told me that if I'm able to do that at the highest level I can help any team out," Landen said. "And having a great team like we have we do with great players, I just need to do my job, the small things and that's enough for us to win."

--- Setting his own path

Lucas had an interesting high school career, starting out at Sunset for two seasons before transferring to famed Findley Prep in Henderson, Nev., (essentially a basketball factory) only to return to the Beaverton area to play at Westview, a rival of Sunset's. 

That move brought out the haters from Sunset, but that didn't impact Lucas, who had his sights set on going big time. 

Landen Lucas might have followed in his father's footsteps had the Ducks in 2012 been as good as they are now. But back then, Landen viewed Oregon under coach Dana Altman as a fledgling program that relied too heavily on transfers.  

"I wasn't sure what direction it was heading," Landen said before pointing out that UO appears to be a lot different now, a testament, he stated, to Altman's vision.

Richard Lucas hoped his son would end up at Oregon but ultimately determined that the Ducks' style of play didn't involve tossing the ball into the big man often enough to make it the right fit for Landen.

"We realized pretty quickly that the style of play at the time they were doing was a little bit different than what we were looking for," Richard Lucas said. 

Landen's career at Kansas got off to a rocky start. He redshirted as a freshman and barely played the following season.

Richard Lucas recalled when Kansas coach Bill Self told him he wanted to trade Landen as an 18-year-old for Landen as a 23-year-old fifth-year senior who was going to play a lot.

"It was hard to talk to Landen about that because kids want to play," Richard Lucas said.

Landen resisted at first but soon recognized the value in redshirting especially when he likely wouldn't have played anyway, and he could focus on developing his game and getting off to a good start academically.

Altman remembers recruiting Lucas and hoping he would indeed want to go where his father had starred. Even though that didn't work out, Altman said he's happy for Lucas and how he has developed his game since redshirting. 

"It also shows his perseverance, you know, it didn't start out well for him, the redshirt and he didn't get to play much the first couple of years," Altman said. "But he stayed with it and, you know, it speaks to his character."

Altman pointed out that a lot of young players look to transfer when they don't become instant starts, let alone are asked to redshirt.  

"We're really happy for him, great guy, great family," Altman said. "His dad is a great guy. Really happy for him. I hope he doesn't play well tomorrow, but he's had a heck of a career."

Self said he recruited Landen with the idea of him being a good “program guy.” Instead, he got much more.

“All he did was come in and start for three years, basically, and has become probably as an important part of our program as anybody we've had,” Self said. “You hate to look at a team over the last three years and say, why would you be without him and the answer would be not very good.”

Before each game Richard will give Landed a pep talk and notes on what to watch for based on having watched the opponent. After games they would debrief to go over what happens.

"He is so smart that that's less and less," Richard Lucas said. "He knows what he did wrong and what he can do better."

Landen said he takes his father’s advice to heart.

"I try to take his advice and listen to him, good or bad because I know that he knows what he is talking about," Landen said.

Clearly Richard Lucas’ schooling of his son paid off.

“He's been a real pleasure to coach, and he's very, very bright.” Self said. “He gets it. He gets the big picture. Certainly he has grown so much since he's been here.”

--- The chase for 18 rebounds and beyond.

Richard’s career-high 18 rebounds against Stanford in 1991 remains a point of contention between father and son. He elder Lucas has held that number over Landen his entire college career, challenging him to tie or beat it.

Landen did just that. Sort of. 

Landen Lucas, who had 12 rebounds once as a redshirt sophomore, 16 in a game as a redshirt junior and 17 earlier this season, finally grabbed 18 on Feb. 24 during a 92-89 win over Iowa State.

However, that win came in overtime. The key word being "overtime."

"Doesn't count, sorry!" Richard Lucas said. "Sorry. I mean, come on."

The elder Lucas points out that Landen got three of his 18 rebounds in overtime. So, according to dad, he still holds the family record. 

When asked about it, Landen just shook his head. 

"He's not counting that," he said with a laugh. "I've got to get to at least 18 or more so I can shut him up so he won't talk about it anymore."

When told of that declaration, Richard just laughed.

"You know what, he's been trying for years," he said. "He's. Been. Trying. For. Years. To do that. So, we'll see."

--- Beating Oregon.

The goal is to win on Saturday. Elation would follow. A twinge of pain for both Lucas men would still exist.

“Landen and I talked briefly last night about the situation,” Self said. “He's a big fan of the Ducks not only because he grew up in Portland but because his father played there and was a good player there. So there's pride there about that with his family.”

But that pride factor has shifted. Dad will be wearing Kansas gear. But he admits that he won’t be able to view Oregon as a faceless opponent. Meanwhile, Landen has no choice.

“He told me last night, he said, ‘Coach, I've seen 'em play at least 15 times this year,’” Self said.  “Which he wouldn't be watching any other teams from the Pac-12 play that amount of time unless there was a vested interest with his father. We'll talk about it. We'll talk about it, but he has a lot of respect for back home.”

He has more respect for his goals. The team’s goals. What is at stake. Oregon will have other chances to reach the Final Four. This is Landen’s final shot. And the Ducks, albeit a program he and his father love, stands in the way.

"This is what I stuck it out for,” he said, “and really what motived me earlier in my career."