Pac-12 after dark could get ugly this week in No. 15 Oregon’s matchup against Montana. The Ducks’ massively overmatch the Griz in their final non-conference game, which kicks off at 7:45 pm in Autzen Stadium in Eugene. Montana has won four of their last five road games and look to improve to 3-0 with a monster road upset over Oregon (1-1).
The Ducks and coach Mario Cristobal aren’t looking past Montana to their Pac-12 Conference opener at Stanford and neither should you. Here are 10 stats and numbers you need to know to be the fan dropping knowledge at the tailgate:
1. INJURY UPDATES
Oregon has yet to see two of its largest offensive weapons play this season and the wait may continue. Cristobal gave an injury update on senior wide receiver Juwan Johnson and junior tight end Cam McCormick.
Johnson’s (leg) availability is likely a Friday or Saturday decision. "It’s a soft tissue thing, so we expect progress and it’s going to be close," Cristobal said. "I think now we’re coming around to this thing could actually be a go.” McCormick (ankle) is unlikely to play this week and is eyeing a return for Oregon's Pac-12 opener at Stanford. The 6-foot-5, 260-pound pass catcher went through pregame warm-ups prior to the season opener against Auburn but not before last week’s game against Nevada.
2. EAGER PITTMAN
True freshman receiver Mycah Pittman, who was expected to contribute or possibly start this season, suffered a shoulder injury in a fall scrimmage that was supposed to sideline him for six to eight weeks. Pittman tweeted, "2 more weekkksss!" on Sunday, implying a quicker than expected return.
Cristobal addressed the tweet that excited fans who are anxious to watch one of the most praised incoming freshman from teammates and coaches.
“I know everyone is excited about Mycah’s tweet," Cristobal said. "He’s pretty ambitious. We’ve still got to wait a little bit, but he’s getting better. We hope to have him with us in a couple of weeks practicing again."
The initial 6-8 weeks projection would mark Pittman healthy as early as Oregon’s game against Cal on Oct. 5.
3. CRISTOBAL ON FIRE AT HOME
Oregon is looking to improve to 8-1 at home under coach Cristobal.
4. THE SHOUGH SHOW
Back-up quarterback has been a point of contention for Oregon in the last five seasons. The Ducks have seen countless quarterbacks transfer away, leaving a void: Bryan Bennett, Terry Wilson, Travis Jonsen, Braxton Burmeister, etc.
This season, four-star quarterback Tyler Shough has earned the back-up role behind senior Justin Herbert. Shough found success in the home opener and gave fans a little insight into the future as Herbert’s heir. In the most substantial playing time of his career, Shough threw his first college pass and finished 8-of-9 for 92 yards and two touchdowns.
His performance wasn’t the type of awe-inspiring play that causes someone to bet Oregon will win the national championship next season. However, Shough made solid decisions, showed his accurate arm and toughness under pressure. He also used his legs to rush for 11 yards and made a couple heads up plays including one flick to tight end Spencer Webb while getting blitzed on third and nine.
“He was accurate and made a play with his feet as well, got outside the pocket, got tripped up or he would have gone for a little bit more,” Cristobal said. “We felt that since spring, his progress has been great. We trust him to go in there and make plays.”
5. HELLO, FUNA!
The highest ranked linebacker recruit in school history, Mase Funa, is already making an impact for Oregon. The Mater Dei High School alum is the only freshman to have two sacks in a game this season in the FBS. Funa’s four tackles for loss currently lead the Pac-12.
6. DEFENSE TURNING HEADS UNDER ANDY AVALOS
Oregon’s defense has dominated through the first two games of the season under defensive coordinator Andy Avalos. Opponents have reached Oregon territory just 10 times in 30 drives. Oregon’s defense has not allowed a first half touchdown in four consecutive games (28 drives). Also, the Ducks forced four turnovers against Nevada that resulted in 28 points.
7. A DUCK WIN WOULD…
Mark Oregon's 25th consecutive nonconference home win.
Improve Oregon to 8-0-1 against Montana.
Be Oregon's 11th win in the last 12 games at Autzen Stadium.
8. “MR. ELECTRICITY”
Montana senior punt returner Jerry Louie-McGee or “Mr. Electricity” earned ROOT Sports Big Sky Conference Special Teams Player of the Week after juking his way to a 74-yard punt return for a touchdown. Louie-McGee is the Griz’s special teams star and speed threat at wide receiver. In Saturday’s victory, he averaged 30 yards per kick on five returns for a total of 150 yards - the most in a game of any player in FCS football so far this season by a nearly 40-yards.
9. GRIZ QUARTERBACK IS “HEART AND SOUL OF THE TEAM”
Quarterback Dalton Sneed a fifth-year senior that has impressed Cristobal.
“(Sneed is) very tough, will throw his body around, there’s no hesitation in his game whatsoever,” Cristobal said. “The ball is out quick and it’s accurate. I think he’s a special player.”
Sneed has completed 67.8 percent of his passes for 696 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions this season.
10. HIGH-FLYIN’ GRIZ
Montana totaled 520 yards of offense in their victory over North Alabama last Saturday. The Grizzlies have the No. 7 passing and total offense in the FCS.
The Ducks opened as five-touchdown favorites over Montana. Currently, the Ducks are 36.5 point favorites.