Oregon Football

Eight Oregon DUCK Storylines to Follow This Spring

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It's April! While the basketball seasons are over, there are plenty of reasons to be excited for Oregon Athletics this spring and a number of exciting storylines worth following. We've listed out eight of our favorites for your enjoyment. 

Oregon Duck Spring Storylines

Oregon Softball Chasing a National Title: The Ducks are ranked top five in the land and have both the offensive firepower and standout pitching to make a serious run at a national title.

Starting pitcher Megan Kleist is as good as they come and the addition of DJ Sanders, a slugger to say the least, has been a big win for Coach Mike White's team. The Pac-12 is loaded with top-tier teams, which should only help the Ducks heading into the post-season.

Norman Xiong Stepping It Up for Oregon Men's Golf: The Oregon Men's Golf team is looking for continued improvement throughout the season, and while the squad may not win many of their big invitational matches this season, fans need to keep an eye on sophomore sensation Norman Xiong. 

Xiong has already won four tournaments this season and has taken his game to a whole new level in 2018. While an individual national title may seem like a reach, if Xiong continues to progress, nearly anything seems possible.

Oregon Women's Track and Field Seeks Redemption: After winning seven of the previous eight indoor national titles, the Women of Oregon fell to fifth at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships last month.

Despite the lackluster finish, the squad enters the outdoor season with as good as shot as any team to claim the national crown. Much of their success depends on the health of standout sprinter Ariana Washington and distance runner Katie Rainsberger. 

Oregon Baseball's Star Kenyon Yovan Steps Into Starting Role: While Oregon Baseball finds their footing in the early going, showing signs of incredible potential at times, pre-season All-American Kenyon Yovan is an individual player worth watching. His pre-season accolades focused on his role as closer, but Yovan has been shifted to a starting role. How he handles pitching longer innings and being a focal point of the starting rotation will be a storyline worth following as the season progresses.

Get a Look at Oregon Football on April 21 at the Spring Game: We're a long way from the start of the 2018-19 Oregon Football season, but spring practices are well underway and Coach Mario Cristobal and his staff are pushing their team hard. With talent like Justin Herbert, Troy Dye, Jalen Jelks and Tony Brooks-James ready to showcase their skills, along with countless other players ready to show what they can do, the Spring Game is going to be a fun one this year.

Oregon Men's Tennis' Thomas Laurent is Incredible: Whether or not you're a tennis fan, Oregon's Thomas Laurent is worth watching at some point this spring. The French national is ranked as a top-15 individual player at the NCAA level, while he and his doubles partner Cormac Clissold are the winning duo in Oregon history. 

The first-team All Pac-12 junior is only getting stronger as the season continues and it would not be surprising at all to see Laurent challenge for a top five finish at the NCAA Championships later this semester. 

Oregon Men's Track and Field with National Title Aspirations: A 13th place showing at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships mean it's fairly far fetched for the Men of Oregon to claim an outdoor crown, but it'd also not be smart for the nation to count out the Ducks. 

The team's middle distance crew is impressive, while a handful of sprinters could take Oregon to another level. Robert Johnson's squad always seems to peak perfectly at NCAA Outdoors. Their true success at the national level should be shown by the Pac-12 Championships.

The Recruiting Trail Never Slows for Oregon Football and Oregon Men's Basketball: Just when you think the recruiting season slows down, fans are reminded that the recruiting cycle never stops, as Oregon Football recently received a commitment from a four-star defensive tackle from California.

Coach Mario Cristobal is set to host a ton of talent at the Spring Game later this month, which could see a few athletes commit on the spot, while Coach Dana Altman and his staff are working 3-4 different top recruits and grad transfers, seeking to fill out their 2018-19 roster. Recruiting news is never in short supply.

There are plenty of other storylines to follow this spring, but these are a few of our favorites as April and the spring sports season start heating up.

Go Ducks!

Saturday Night Live Camp Set for July 28

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Last summer, the Oregon Football coaching staff launched a new event, bringing countless top recruits to Eugene to learn and compete at the Saturday Night Live camp.

While the coaching staff has seen plenty of turnover, with Coach Mario Cristobal moving into the top position, Cristobal clearly saw enough benefit to bring back the event once more.

Additional details came out in addition to Cristobal's tweet, as the camp will take place on July 28, hosting players in the classes of 2019 and 2020.

Mark It Down: Spring Game 2018 is Set

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Oregon Football announced the date and start time for the 2018 Spring Game. Fans should mark down Saturday, April 21 on their calendars - scheduling a trip to Eugene - as the Spring Game kicks-off at 2pm.

This will give fans their first in-game look at the 2018-19 Ducks, the new coaching staff, some of the new recruits and who is putting in the work this off-season to take a step forward in the season ahead. 

Don't miss this, Duck fans!

A Trio of Former Oregon Stars to Play in Super Bowl

A trio of former Oregon Football players are headed to the Super Bowl, after the New England Patriots won the AFC Championship and the Philadelphia Eagles won the NFC Championship Sunday.

Running backs LeGarrette Blount and Kenjon Barner compete for the Eagles, while defensive back Patrick Chung plays for the Patriots. For Blount and Chung, this is their third time playing in a Super Bowl, as both won with the Patriots last season as well as in 2015. For Barner, this is his first trip to the Super Bowl.

Read: Oregon Guaranteed Alumni Super Bowl Winner for 7th Straight Year (Duck Territory)

 

Three Things You Need to Know About Boise State

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As the Ducks square off against Boise State Saturday, here are three things you need to know about the team that plays on blue turf:

A Well-Rounded Offense

Boise State's quarterback, Brett Rypien, is not the most mobile quarterback - which should be a point of emphasis for Oregon - but he's plenty accurate and doesn't make mistakes. Rypien passed for 14 touchdowns this season, with only four interceptions. 

The squad is balanced, as Rypien passed for 2,515 yards this season, while also having a 1,000 yard rusher in sophomore Alexander Mattison and 1,000 yard receiver in senior Cedrick Wilson. 

Balanced attacks keep defenses honest.

An Eye on the Defense

Junior linebacker Leighton Vander Esch won Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year honors.

Super freshman Curtis Weaver, a defensive end, had nine sacks on the season, becoming the first freshman in Mountain West history to earn defensive first team honors.

David Moa, the squad's standout defensive tackle, was arrested in September, but rejoined the team and has been on numerous watch lists the past two years. 

A strong line and heady linebackers give Boise State a sneaky good defense.

Boise State is Similar to Oregon

The Broncos mirror the Ducks in a few ways:

  • Oregon ranks #42 in the country in total defense, Boise State ranks #45
  • Oregon ranks #28 in total offense, Boise State ranks #38
  • Both teams totaled 13 interceptions
  • Oregon sacked opposing quarterbacks 32 times this season, Boise State did so 30 times
  • Both squads beat Wyoming this season, the Ducks crushed the Cowboys 49-13 in September, while Boise State beat Josh Allen's team 24-14 in October
  • Both teams lost to Washington State - Oregon lost big 33-10, while Boise State nearly pulled off the upset, losing in triple-overtime 47-44.

Additional reads

Boise State Offensive Players to Keep an Eye On (Duck Territory)
Las Vegas Bowl Sneak Peek: Meet No. 25 Boise State (OregonLive)
Game Day Guide: Las Vegas Bowl (KTVB)

Five Things You Need to Know About Mario Cristobal

It's official. Rob Mullens and the search committee have named Mario Cristobal the next head coach of Oregon Football, removing the interim tag placed on him less than a week ago. 

Cristobal, who was Oregon's co-offensive coordinator this season, gives the Ducks a stabilizing force in a time of chaos, a well-respected coach the players love and keeps one of the nation's top recruiters in Eugene. Oh, and he is a pretty darn good coach. 

While Google searches will run rampant today for Cristobal, as Duck fans seek out more information on their new coach, here are five things you need to know about Mario Cristobal.

He has Head coaching Experience

Cristobal was head coach at Florida International University for six seasons, from 2007-2012. His combined record over six seasons was 27-47, but that's only part of the story. FIU only became a DI program two years prior to his hiring and lacked the normal resources of a solid DI program. 

His first three seasons, FIU was 9-27, however, in his final three seasons his team went 18-20, made the only two bowl appearances in school history and tied for first in the Sun Belt Conference. 

Cristobal established his vision at FIU, took time building the program, recruited hard, coached up his players and ultimately had a great deal of success. 

The Current Players and Recruits Love Him

In case you're not on Twitter, both current Oregon Football players and future Oregon Football players have been using the hashtag #cristobALLIN over the past few days. The amount of support from the current roster was impressive and surely had an impact of Mullens hiring Cristobal, but equally as important the top-five ranked recruiting class was strongly voicing their support for moving Cristobal into the top spot.

Cristobal has been named the top recruiter in the country twice and clearly he spearheaded Oregon's efforts this year - which should lead to the best recruiting class in Oregon history. 

Support from current and future players, including more than 70 players signing a petition to have Cristobal be named head coach, shows their belief in their new head coach, the University of Oregon and ultimately the future of this team.

In the Trenches He Trusts

As a former offensive line at the University of Miami, as well as playing a bit of pro ball in NFL Europe, Cristobal understands the need for both a strong offensive and defensive line. He's coached the offensive line throughout his entire coaching career and you can be he'll continue to support the trenches in a big way. 

In case you're wondering, Cristobal has coached multiple NFL offensive line, including first-round draft pick Ryan Kelly and second-round draft pick Cam Robinson. It's no surprise that the Oregon offensive line took a big step forward this past season, as well, with guys like Tyrell Crosby (who's sure to be drafted into the NFL), Jake Hanson and Calvin Throckmorton raking in some seasonal honors.

In addition, While Oregon's been able to lure some big-time wide receiver and running back talent to Eugene, now seems like the perfect time to start getting some of the top offensive and defensive line talent to head this way, too. 

He's Part of the Nick Saban Coaching Tree

The legendary Alabama coach has produced countless assistant coaches who've gone on to successful head coaching careers. Cristobal coached under Saban for four years before coming to Oregon and you can bet part of his vision for Oregon Football will have some similar elements to the machine Saban has built in Tuscaloosa. 

Love or hate Alabama, Saban has built a program that restocks talent and hits the ground running toward a national title year in and year out. We can only hope Cristobal can build a Pacific Northwest version of the Crimson Tide - a consistent conference and national title contender.

His South Florida Connection

Enough about Florida, right? Hear us out. 

One thing Oregon has been able to do extremely well over the last 12 months is dive into Florida and pull out some of the state's top recruits. The Northwest isn't a football powerhouse for high school players. Yes, it's crucial the Ducks consistently attract the top talent in Oregon, but in order to build a national-caliber program, Oregon needs to have deep ties in California, Texas and Florida - or at least two of the three. 

While many thought a change at head coach might diminish Oregon's ties to the incredible talent pool of South Florida, it needs to be said that Cristobal can recruit that part of the country better than almost anyone. He played at the University of Miami, coaches at FIU (located near Miami) and most importantly, he was born and raised in Miami (note of emphasis, the Miami head coaching position seems very well solidified for the next few seasons).

Recruiting matters and having a strong presence in South Florida matters. Cristobal will keep that pipeline strong for the Ducks.