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.

Portland State athlete killed in NE Portland shooting, two others injured

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goviks.com

Portland State athlete killed in NE Portland shooting, two others injured

News outlets in the Portland area are reporting a shooting in Northeast Portland has ended with a fatality and two others injured. 

The man who died has been identified as Deante Strickland who was a two-sport athlete at Portland State University playing on both the basketball and football teams. 

Portland State Athletic Director Valerie Cleary released the following statement from the University:

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of Deante. He represented everything it means to be a Viking in his hometown of Portland. He will forever be remembered for his character, determination and warm smile. Our prayers go out to his family and friends."

Strickland was a local, a graduate of Central Catholic High School and was studying Social Science at PSU. 

Update on the shooting from KGW:

You can read more about the tragic event at the following links:

KGW News

KPTV News

Portland State University 

The best and worst from Oregon's domination over Portland State

The best and worst from Oregon's domination over Portland State

In No. 20 Oregon’s domination of Portland State, the good definitely outweighed the bad. However, there were a few ugly points that could be major thorns (ahem, dropped passes) in Oregon’s side in it’s quest to win the Pac-12 north.

THE BEST:

Quarterback Justin Herbert doesn’t play favorites: Sharing is caring? Herbert’s four touchdown passes went to four different Duck receivers in the victory over Portland State. Herbert connected with 11 receivers, amassing 250 total passing yards. In Oregon’s first two wins of the season, Herbert has thrown nine touchdown passes to six different receivers.

Jaylon Redd is streaking: The sophomore wide receiver has scored a touchdown in four straight games dating back to Oregon State game in 2017.

Justin Hollins is a machine: The outside linebacker recorded two tackles for loss versus Portland State, extending his streak to six games with a tackle for loss.

Hello, graduate transfers: Both Kano Dillon and Tabari Hines scored their first touchdowns as Ducks. Dillon, a tight end transfer from University of South Florida, carried four defenders on his way to the end zone and finished with 41 yards on three receptions. Hines had a 23-yard reception and finished the game with 32 yards on three catches.

“Penalty problem” continues to improve: The Ducks committed five penalties for 55 penalty yards against PSU. Through 2 games Oregon has committed 8 penalties, compared to the 9.4 penalties Oregon averaged per game in 2017.

Healthy: The Ducks suffered only one injury. Backup left tackle George Moore left the game in the fourth quarter. 

Bye, swag surfing: Swag surfing is over in Autzen Stadium. The song that former UO coach Willie Taggart introduced has been replaced with “It’s a Party” by Waka Flocka Flame during kickoffs.

100-yard backs: Starting running back Tony Brooks-James carried the ball a career-high 21 times for 107 yards and scored two touchdowns. CJ Verdell surpassed the 100-yard mark for the first time in his career with 106 yards on 11 carries with one touchdown.

That’s a lot of points: Oregon has now scored more than 50 points in back-to-back games for the first time since 2014 when the Ducks won the Pac-12 Championship and the Rose Bowl/CFB playoff.

THE WORST:

Butterfingers continue: Wide receivers Dillon Mitchell and Johnny Johnson III dropped back-to-back passes that could have gone the distance on Oregon’s first drive.

Where the fans at? The announced crowd of 47,210 was the lowest attendance for a home game since Autzen expanded in 2002.

Backup quarterbacks: Neither backup quarterback proved that the Ducks have a solid option behind Herbert.

Backup quarterback Braxton Burmeister replaced Herbert for the final drive of the third quarter. Burmeister competed all three of his passes for a total of 16 yards and rushed the ball twice for eight yards. Tyler Shough made his college football debut on the final drive. Shough led a four play, 37-yard drive to the end zone but only handed off the ball to CJ Verdell, which doesn’t scream confidence from the UO coaching staff.


Not a real test: The Ducks have steamrolled over both Bowling Green and Portland State. Oregon’s nonconference slate is total cupcake, which makes it hard to know where Oregon stands in the conference.  "I feel like we know who we are, we just haven't been tested," said Cristobal.

Oregon Ducks quarterback Justin Herbert doesn't play favorites

Oregon Ducks quarterback Justin Herbert doesn't play favorites

Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert doesn’t play favorites.

In No. 23 Oregon’s first two wins of the season, Herbert has thrown nine touchdown passes to six different receivers.

The Ducks (2-0) crushed Portland State (0-2), 62-14, extending their non-conference win streak to 23 games. Herbert completed 20 of 26 passes for 250 yards with four touchdowns to four different receivers and zero interceptions before heading to the bench in the third quarter.

“We made a big step forward today,” Herbert said.  “I don’t think we need that one ‘go-to’ guy. We’ve got so many weapons… My job is to get them the ball.”

Oregon has now scored more than 50 points in back-to-back games for the first time since 2014 when the Ducks won the Pac-12 Championship and the Rose Bowl/CFBplayoffs.

Oregon started Saturday's game with slippery fingers though. Wide receivers Dillon Mitchell and Johnny Johnson III dropped back-to-back passes that could have gone the distance on Oregon’s first drive.

Then Herbert connected on a 25-yard pass to junior wide receiver Brenden Schooler, who finished with four catches and 30 yards. After that, the receivers were off to the races. Seven Ducks had catches of 10 yards or more in the first half alone.

“Getting a lot of fresh legs in there is only going to help us throughout the season,” Schooler said.

Sophomore Jaylon Redd scored Oregon's opening touchdown. The 18-yard touchdown reception was Redd’s third touchdown in as many receptions on the season. It also marked Herbert 40th career touchdown pass.


Herbert’s 4,450 career passing yards are the most all-time for an Oregon quarterback through 19 games, 49 more than Marcus Mariota (4,401).


Redd also is streaking. The sophomore has scored a touchdown in four straight games dating back to Oregon State game in 2017.

Among the 11 pass catchers were two graduate transfers. Both Kano Dillon and Tabari Hines scored their first touchdowns as Ducks. Dillon, a tight end transfer from University of South Florida, carried four defenders on his way to the end zone and finished with 41 yards on three receptions.

Not to be overlooked, Mitchell caught the longest pass of the day, a 31-yard beauty from Herbert.

"It was great to play a lot of players today,” Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said. “It was good to start faster than we did the previous week."

Oregon’s 562 total offensive yards wasn’t the only important statistic of the game.

The Ducks committed five penalties for 55 penalty yards against PSU. Coach Cristobal has put emphasis on reduction of penalties after Oregon was the most penalized team in the nation in 2017 (averaging 9.4 penalties for 88.3 penalty yards per game).

That new-found sense of discipline and culture of accountability starts with the coaching staff. One of the penalties was a substitution penalty. Cristobal said the staff will run an extra gasser after practice for that mistake.

The Ducks have one more nonconference game versus San Jose State, next Saturday at 2 p.m. 

What they're saying: Don't count out Portland State so quickly

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NBCSNW

What they're saying: Don't count out Portland State so quickly

No point spread yet from Las Vegas, but an in-state, FBS vs. FCS rivalry this week starts with the Portland State Vikings traveling two hours south to take on the No. 23 Oregon Ducks.

Here is what you need to know before kickoff at 11 AM this Saturday.

Portland State is not a team to overlook. Despite coming off a 72-19 loss at Nevada, the Vikings are looking for that big in-state, FBS upset:

Game information: 

Portland State at No. 23 Oregon, 11 AM kickoff, Autzen Stadium, Saturday, Septmeber 8th.

Oregon is a green machine vs. Portland State

Oregon is a green machine vs. Portland State

The Oregon Ducks already unveiled their Nike football uniforms for the upcoming season. The winged helmets are back and the jerseys feature a new large "Mighty Oregon" font.

For game two vs. Portland State, Oregon will be a green machine. Check them out. 

How about those yellow cleats?

More Ducks:

"Grandpa" Tony Brooks-James has goals to dominate in his final UO season

NCAA tightening restrictions on CFB uniformsCareer-highs, milestones and streaks: Oregon numbers you need to know

Oregon climbs to No. 23 in the AP Poll

The Good and Bad from Oregon's victory over Bowling Green

31 Greatest NCAAF Players in PNW history: No.15 - Neil Lomax

31 Greatest NCAAF Players in PNW history: No.15 - Neil Lomax

Neil Lomax is Portland State. He is, without question, the greatest Viking of all-time. When he left PSU he had 90 collegiate records with his name on them. Lomax threw for 13, 320 yards and 106 touchdowns at PSU, once threw for seven touchdowns in a single quarter, and finished seventh in Heisman voting in 1980 despite playing in Division 1-AA.

Lomax went on to play eight seasons in the NFL with the St.Louis/Phoenix Cardinals where he threw for 22,771 yards and 136 touchdowns, and twice earned Pro Bowl honors (1984 and 1987).

He was elected to the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame in 1993 and the Portland State Viking Hall of Fame in 1997.

Some wishes for the state's college football programs

Some wishes for the state's college football programs

Now that the regular-season is over, it's time for a few holiday wishes for this state's football programs:

[NBC Sports Gold “Blazers Pass” 15-game Blazers package for fans without NBC Sports Northwest $34.99 – click to learn more and buy]

  • For Oregon State: Hire a coach as soon as possible but not too soon. You need to be as sure as you can about this one because the program cannot take much more of the kind of failure it experienced this season. It takes a lot of money to feed the machine that is big-time college football and I'm not sure how the Beavers are continuing to get contributions from boosters and sell season tickets with the kind of mess they put on display in that woeful campaign. Ideally, the new hire would be someone who would be able to generate excitement among Beaver Nation before he ever plays a game. As we all know, once the games start, that excitement can dissipate in a hurry.
  • For Oregon: Keep those assistant coaches! The Ducks have assembled a quality staff and the problem with that is that other schools are always going to be coming after their coaches. The Ducks must be on high alert in that regard and protect their family. I'd also say they need to keep an eye on all those blue-chip recruits they have commitments from. A lot can happen between now and the signing date and a lot of those SEC schools still haven't gotten as serious with recruiting as they'll get now. But if Oregon brings that whole staff back and signs all the prospects who have committed, next season is going to be a big one.
  • For Portland State: Keep the program alive. Honestly, with small crowds and no wins, I'm not sure how committed the PSU administration is going to be about football. Something dramatic has to happen there and I'm not sure what it's going to be. In a metropolitan area this size, it's hard for me to believe the school can't get enough people to care about its program to fund it on a higher level. But on the other hand, who wants to be associated with winless seasons?

Why not rest players earlier when games stretch long past 3 hours?

Why not rest players earlier when games stretch long past 3 hours?

A few bouquets and boos from my college football weekend:

  • I've said it frequently, but coordinators make a difference. Oregon was brutal on defense last season and then Jim Leavitt shows up as defensive coordinator. All of a sudden Oregon is bringing a crowd to the football and not missing tackles. There is organization instead of chaos. Now I understand the opposition is going to get tougher, but this is a night-and-day difference. Leavitt knows what he is doing.
  • Portland State drew only 4,442 in its home opener Saturday afternoon and sent those loyalists home with a disappointing 37-14 defeat. That program just can't seem to find a groove. I wish I had an answer. Well, I do have an answer -- winning. But I just don't know how that's going to happen.
  • Oregon State? Offense was much better at Washington State but the defense is awful. As I said, coordinators matter and you wonder if somebody is going to walk the plank on the OSU coaching staff.
  • Oregon's running game is terrific and certainly Justin Herbert is an NFL quarterback in waiting. But against better competition you have to wonder if the lack of experience at wide receiver is going to hurt.
  • What has happened to Stanford?
  • Football coaches have always bewildered me with their reluctance to remove starters -- particularly their valuable quarterbacks -- late in games. Oregon kept a good part of its offense on the field past the halfway mark of the fourth quarter with a huge lead. Washington State kept Luke Falk out there way too long in a blowout. Oregon State was still sending Jake Luton on the field long after the Beavers' chances of winning were long gone. Luton, of course, got hurt.
  • Here's my deal: these college games today are taking forever to play. Instead of looking at the game clock and making a decision about taking players out, take a look at the wristwatch once in a while. Three hours is a long time to stay on the field. I get tired just watching these games and I can't imagine what it's like to keep trudging back out on the field to take more hits as long games crawl to a finish. Resting players is not only a precaution, it's a chance to allow the backup kids who are killing themselves in practice all season to get some game time.
  • One more thought about Oregon: It was an impressive enough win at Wyoming that there was no need to go for it on fourth-and-two in the third quarter with a 42-10 lead. And there was certainly no reason to be throwing to the end zone with 11 seconds left in the game. Yeah, I know -- you want the backups to get some experience. If that's the case, put them in earlier.

Best team on the field Saturday in Corvallis? Portland State!

Best team on the field Saturday in Corvallis? Portland State!

The Oregon State Beavers needed a win in the worst way Saturday against FCS Portland State. And that's just about what they got -- a win in the worst way.

Let me first say, OSU's drive to take the lead that culminated in a touchdown with a little more than a minute remaining in the game was a big thing for the Beavers. They came through in a tough spot and took control, if momentarily, of the game.

But let me also say, the Beavers didn't beat the Vikings. The Vikings beat the Vikings. Portland State was the better team in Reser Stadium Saturday and I know that's a very painful thing for Beaver fans to understand. But you can pick just about any category on the final stat sheet and PSU had the edge. But even more than that, consider that PSU lost its starting quarterback in the fourth quarter and still marched for the go-ahead touchdown with 2:43 to go in the game. And, oh yes, the Vikings couldn't covert PAT kicks or a field goal that would have sent the game into overtime. But for a kicker, this game belonged to Portland State.

And one other very big thing -- Portland State failed on a fourth-and-goal in the first half after an incomplete pass in the end zone. There was pass interference on that play -- even the Pac-12 network announcers saw it that way -- and it wasn't called.

I expected the Vikings to give the Beavers a game but I certainly didn't expect them to dominate Oregon State. The Vikings rushed for 291 yards while holding OSU to 154 on the ground. And this was supposed to be a Beaver team with a serious ground attack. And Portland State is supposed to be a team that will finish eighth or ninth in the Big Sky Conference. I think the Viks are obviously much better than that, by the way.

But what are we to make of the Beavers?

Well, so far, not much. But it's way too early to give up on them. Gary Andersen is a good coach and I think his team is talented enough to make something of a turnaround. But I'm not sure it will be enough to avoid a disastrous won-lost record. If a Big Sky team can run on them, I'd expect every team in the Pac-12 will run them into the ground. Oregon State would probably be better off to get to a ball-control offense and keep its defense off the field as much as possible.

On the defensive side of the ball, think last year's Oregon team. It could be even worse than that, if possible.

The Beavers can rejoice all they want over that win over Portland State. But in reality, there wasn't much to celebrate.