oregon football

Ducks arrive for bowl prep

Oregon meets TCU in the Alamo Bowl Jan. 2
Dec. 26, 2015 / Associated Press

SAN ANTONIO — When the Oregon football team arrived at its hotel for the Alamo Bowl two seasons ago, the Ducks were greeted by a gauntlet of bowl representatives who slapped an endless supply of stickers bearing the bowl’s logo on players’ clothing, luggage … even a forehead or two.

Surely the Ducks’ victory over Texas in that year’s Alamo Bowl was the best memory from the trip. But smaller details like the stickers were memorable too.

And so, when Oregon arrived at the same hotel Saturday, for this year’s Alamo Bowl next weekend against Texas Christian, veterans smiled nostalgic smiles when walking the sticker gauntlet again, while newcomers experienced it for the first time.

“San Antonio is a beautiful place,” senior defensive end DeForest Buckner said. “We’re excited to be back at this bowl game.”

Much more during the upcoming week will feel familiar to Buckner and other veterans who were on hand for the 30-7 victory over Texas in 2013. Oregon’s practices, the first of which will be held Sunday morning, are at the same location, Alamo Heights High School.

There are similar functions for players to enjoy — a San Antonio Spurs game Monday evening, a visit with wounded warriors at Brooke Army Medical Center’s Center for the Intrepid on Tuesday, and Sea World on Wednesday. It all leads up to next Saturday’s 3:45 p.m. kickoff against the Horned Frogs.

Oregon enters the Alamo Bowl at 9-3 and ranked No. 15, while TCU is 10-2 and ranked 11th.

“We’re playing in a great bowl game against some high-powered competition,” sophomore running back Royce Freeman said.

As they do at home, the Ducks will practice in the late morning this week. They’ll stretch out a normal five-day schedule of game preparation over six days; currently, plans call for Thursday-style non-contact workouts on both Wednesday and Thursday of this week.

Inclement weather around Texas caused some travel delays Saturday, but UO coach Mark Helfrich said he expected every player eligible for this season to arrive and participate in Oregon’s preparations this week. Quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. was one of the players affected by the weather; a few dozen Ducks travelled on the team’s charter from Eugene, but many others scheduled flights directly into San Antonio from their hometowns after spending time with family for the holidays.

Oregon’s schedule for the week also includes a pep rally Thursday, and a trip to the Alamodome for a team photo Friday.

What's Michigan got to do with it?

The Wolverines might be a model for what can happen to a top FB program
Oct. 12, 2015 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

Was that the Oregon football team just a fourth-and-goal conversion from being ranked in the Top 4 earlier in the season?

Wow.

Heading into Saturday’s game at Washington, a program the Ducks haven’t lost to in 11 years, the Ducks are three-point underdogs.

Underdogs to Washington. That’s how much the 2015 season has turned over in two months.

That’s a key part of the Sportsland, Oregon episode for this week, recorded at Pour Sports in Southeast Portland.

The Ducks head to Seattle off a two-overtime loss at home to Washington State in which they failed to stop the Cougars the final four times they had the ball and scored just once themselves in spite of fielding a tailback, Royce Freeman, who ran for 246 yards.

Co-hosts Cliff Pfenning and Derek Weber take on what the state of the UO program is in mid-season and how the rest of the country might be looking at the team as is struggles forward from 3-3 and needing three wins to become bowl eligible - three combined against: Washington, ASU, California, Stanford, USC and Oregon State.

The Blazers get some time, Major League Baseball, the Timbers and, oh yes, roofball.

Episode 27.

Can Oregon still reach the playoffs?

SPORTSLAND - College football might be crazy enough for that to happen
Oct. 6, 2015 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

Imagine if the Oregon football team went unbeaten the rest of the season, and beat unbeaten Utah in the Pac-12 Conference title game. Would that be enough for the Ducks to reach the College Football Playoffs?

Even though Oregon would have two losses at the time, while there may likely be more than four other teams with just one loss.

That's a subject for Sportsland, Oregon co-hosts Cliff Pfenning and Derek Weber in this week's episode. Will there be a two-loss team among the four teams that reach the playoffs.

And, is that even something the Ducks should be focused on at all? Once upon a time, the Rose Bowl was a big deal - remember?

The NFL's crazy season as well gets some time, as does the upcoming Major League Baseball playoffs. Sure the American League has some prime contenders, but will anyone watch the Toronto Blue Jays play the Kansas City Royals if they win their division series? And, just who's on the Yankees these days other than A-Rod?

Fortunately, there's five outstandings options for the World Series on the National League side, so an audience for that series seems assured.

The Timbers get a few moments, too, as do the Oregon football uniforms for this week.

All recorded Monday at Pour Sports Restaurant in Southeast Portland.

 

College football should realize playoff pressure

Tue, 09/22/2015 - 4:08pm
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Three weeks into the college football season, the race to predict the four teams headed to the national championship semifinals is in full swing.

Ohio State is No. 1, but barely beat a Northern Illinois team that's not a gimme to win its own conference, the Mid-American. Mississippi played its way up to No. with a resounding win at Alabama Saturday. TCU continues to remain the pride of the Big 12 and a prime contender for one of the four spots. And Notre Dame is No. 6 with its legitimate hope of getting in with an unbeaten record. If the Buckeyes, Rebels, Horned Frogs and Irish all win out, then there's no problem picking the playoff semifinalists.

Trouble is when those teams start to lose, even once. Then, the decision to name the four teams turns to persons who aren't involved in the action on the field, which is a problem that the game can actually resolve fairly easily. College football needs a conference ranking system, not a team ranking. The conference schedule then becomes the integral part of the playoff system, as it should be.

Michigan State and Oregon are in key positions to illustrate this argument especially if Oregon should happen to win the Pac-12, but lose another game. The Spartans have a win over then No. 7 Oregon - a thrilling game that featured playoff pressure. But, it wasn't a playoff game because the teams are in different conferences so the outcome only affected people's opinions. And opinions don't win games, teams do.

The big potential challenge could very well happen November 21 when OSU plays host to MSU. If both teams win out until then, they should be No. 1 and 2. Should OSU win, and then win the Big 10 title the following week, they're in the semifinals. Easy.

Michigan State's 31-28 win over Oregon in the second week of the season gives Spartans fans that feeling of confidence that even if they lose to OSU and Oregon wins the Pac-12, they should be one of the four semifinalists ahead of Oregon because of the head-to-head win. That conundrum gets better, though, if Oregon should lose to USC when the teams meet November 21, but then return to beat the Trojans in the Pac-12 final two weeks later ending the season at 11-2 and with its conference title. 

Unbeaten Mississippi beats unbeaten Florida for the SEC title and earns its spot.

Notre Dame loses twice: to USC and Stanford, and is out.

TCU has a loss to Baylor, which also has a loss - to eventual 7-5 Nebraska, and those two schools finish as the only two ranked teams from the Big 12 (which actually only has 10 schools). Baylor is ranked as the conference champion.

Clemson goes unbeaten through the season, but loses in the ACC title game to 10-2 Duke, which has losses to Northwestern and Georgia Tech. Duke is 11-2, while Clemson is 12-1.

How does a two-loss Oregon team get into the semifinals over teams that have one loss? Same for Duke, which also has a conference title.

Easy, the Ducks and Blue Devils would be two of four conference champions, having won the games that mattered most - those that got them to their conference title games, and then that game, too.

With five Power Conferences, the only rankings the playoff committee would need to make is the one that ranks the five conferences - with No. 5 getting left out of the playoff. That was TCU and the Big 12 last year.

MSU has only one loss and a win over Oregon. But, that was a non-conference win. The Spartans' key game is Ohio State, assuming they beat their other four division rivals. That takes on the pressure of a playoff game, with the game's loser being dropped from the playoffs.

The five conference champions might very well be ranked this way: Ohio State, Mississippi, Baylor, Oregon and Duke.

Duke gets left out. Florida, Clemson, Michigan State, TCU - all one-loss teams, scream to be ahead of Oregon, but none have a conference title.

That Michigan State loss is out there for the college football world to salivate over at the right time because of insider opinions, but it shouldn't be, even if the Ducks lose another game. Oregon has five division games, which lead to a conference title game, and that's the playoff system that every other team has, too - the Big 12 has more conference games, so that's its argument to overcome the lack of a conference title game.

The Power 5 conferences will each have a champion, and those are the only five teams that should be considered for the four semifinal spots, regardless of their records. That's how a playoff system works - the better team doesn't always win because which team is better is from an opinion based on stats and records. The actual better team wins on the field, and every team in the Power 5 (plus Notre Dame) has its shot at winning the games that matter.

 

 

Oregon narrowly misses a huge win

Ducks lose 31-28 at Michigan State, but show they're title contenders
Sept. 12, 2015 / Oregonsports.com

EAST LANSING, Mich. - Connor Cook threw for two touchdowns, and No. 5 Michigan State held on to beat No. 7 Oregon 31-28 on Saturday night in college football's marquee game of the week.

The Spartans stopped the Ducks four times on fourth down, including one key stand in the second quarter near the Michigan State goal line.

The Spartans (2-0) led for most of the second half, and it was 31-21 before Oregon's Vernon Adams, Jr. threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Byron Marshall with 3:25 remaining. After a Michigan State punt, the Ducks (1-1) drove to the Spartans 33 before Adams overthrew Marshall, who had beaten his defender on second down. A sack moved the team out of field goal range and Adams missed on the pass that effectively ended the game.

Michigan State avenged last season's 48-27 loss at Oregon, which will play Georgia State at Autzen Stadium Saturday.

It was the first time two teams in the AP top 10 met at Spartan Stadium since 1966, when No. 2 Michigan State and No. 1 Notre Dame played to a 10-10 tie.

Adams, who threw two interceptions – half of the team's total from all of last season, nearly rallied the Ducks. His scoring pass to Marshall marked the 70th consecutive game Oregon has thrown a touchdown pass, breaking a record the Ducks had been sharing with Texas Tech.

In what overall was a shaky performance, Adams completed 22 of 39 passes for 309 yards and the scoring pass. Most of the yards were picked up after the initial completion by receivers Braylon Addison, Charles Nelson and Byron Marshall.

Addison, in addition to his seven catches for 138 yards, returned a punt 81 yards for a touchdown.







 

Adams, Oregon show off well

Sat, 09/12/2015 - 10:22pm
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The University of Oregon football program got a pretty good idea of who Vernon Adams, Jr., is as a quarterback under duress Saturday night, and he performed at an uneven level. But, you also got a good idea of his inner drive, and he showed off he's got the will to win.

He certainly didn't perform at the level the UO world may have thought he was going to when he announced his intention to transfer from Eastern Washington in spring, but at the end of Saturday's thrilling game with Michigan State, the Ducks were in position to win. With a couple fewer yards on a lofty pass down the left sideline, Adams may very well have led the No. 7 Ducks past the No. 5 Spartans.

Overall, it was a gritty performance by a veteran playing on the national stage for the first time with the final a frustrating 31-28 on the scoreboard.

Frustrating in that Oregon fans can easily look at the game as that the Ducks didn't win, not so much as the Spartans beat them. Michigan State survived, although that's all that's needed.

Adams showed he's a gamer, able to overcome his shortcomings and keep his team in contention to win.

Oregon's defense did that, too, inspite of giving up 31 points. Oregon's offense should have topped that total in the game, and might have with some better play calling.

Scott Frost's game as offensive coordinator might be the biggest issue from the game in that the plan seemed to go away from what was working in terms of getting passes outside and letting what might easily be the best trio of receivers in the nation make excitement happen. Just simple screen passes. That opened up the middle for running back Royce Freeman, which carried the team to a score on its first possession and seemed like a pathway to many other scores.

But, as much as Adams is working his way into the Oregon playbook, Frost seems to be working his way into understanding Adams in the playbook. That's what a severe lack of preparation will do to a top-flight program like Oregon.

And, inspite of those issues, the Ducks were in position to win a game that might have moved them up to as far as No. 3 or 4 in the nation.

Still, it showed they're a team worthy of consideration of mention as playing its way back to the title game.

That's an easy road with just a dominating performance in Pac-12 play, which they seem capable of doing if Saturday's game is an indication.

 

Vernon Adams is Oregon's excitement

COLUMN: Not since Chip Kelly's first game have the Ducks been unknown
August 26, 2015

What a difference 12 months has made for the University of Oregon football team and its loyal fanbase.

Last year, Oregon prepped for a run at the national championship fueled by the steady, reliable play of Marcus Mariota, who eventually led the team to the title game and won the Heisman Trophy. That led to him being selected second in the NFL Draft.

A year later, the Ducks feature a free-agent quarterback who already has fans worried about his reliability due to … college classwork (imagine that). Vernon Adams.

What a thrill ride Oregon fans are basically set up for this season.

Maybe we all need that, too.

Oregon football has become somewhat tame, leading to the program signing payday games – for their opponent – in two of the three non-conference slots annually. This week Oregon announced it would play North Dakota State of the second-tier FCS in 2020 at Autzen Stadium. Awesome.

Wouldn't a game against, say, Iowa State be better? North Dakota State beat Iowa State last season, but what really matters there is ISU is from the Big 12. Why does Oregon play teams like North Dakota State, Georgia State, UC Davis, and beyond? To win big and pad stats for its players.

So, maybe Vernon Adams is this season's path to adventure. He gets a game against his former school – Eastern Washington - in his first game at Autzen. Then, off to Michigan State, which is just jonesing for retribution for its loss at Oregon last season, a loss that unhinged its national title hopes.

Adams and the Ducks play at Arizona State and host USC of the Pac-12 South this season as well, so the conference schedule has some sauce.

Adams is a big unknown as the season starts, primarily because he didn't take care of school business as had been promoted in spring. Only in August did he get clearance to actually suit up for the football team after passing a math test.

But, again, that might be good for Oregon fans. The Ducks are rarely an underdog, but Adams has made the season scary by just being an outsider from the Oregon culture. A free-agent. That's becoming quite a thing in college athletics, especially basketball. Now, it is likely to spread to football, potentially keeping programs like North Dakota State from becoming dynasties because their top players might move to programs like Iowa State to improve them and show off their skills to NFL teams.

So, buckle up Oregon fans. It's going to be a … fun season of not relying on reliability that's been established from previous seasons. That didn't actually have such a downside for Ohio State last season, which played the final month with a freshman quarterback who started the season No. 3 on the depth chart. Maybe Oregon will play its way to a national title with a free-agent quarterback who had everyone in the state wondering about his reliability right up until he needed to show off his skills in the classroom and on the field.

 

 

Reliability is Oregon's question mark

Wed, 08/26/2015 - 9:13am
Cliff Pfenning
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What a difference 12 months has made for the University of Oregon football team and its loyal fanbase.

Last year, Oregon prepped for a run at the national championship fueled by the steady, reliable play of Marcus Mariota, who eventually led the team to the title game and won the Heisman Trophy. That led to him being selected second in the NFL Draft.

A year later, the Ducks feature a free-agent quarterback who already has fans worried about his reliability due to … college classwork (imagine that). Vernon Adams.

What a thrill ride Oregon fans are basically set up for this season.

Maybe we all need that, too.

Oregon football has become somewhat tame, leading to the program signing payday games – for their opponent – in two of the three non-conference slots annually. This week Oregon announced it would play North Dakota State of the second-tier FCS in 2020 at Autzen Stadium. Awesome.

Wouldn't a game against, say, Iowa State be better? North Dakota State beat Iowa State last season, but what really matters there is ISU is from the Big 12. Why does Oregon play teams like North Dakota State, Georgia State, UC Davis, and beyond? To win big and pad stats for its players.

So, maybe Vernon Adams is this season's path to adventure. He gets a game against his former school – Eastern Washington - in his first game at Autzen. Then, off to Michigan State, which is just jonesing for retribution for its loss at Oregon last season, a loss that unhinged its national title hopes.

Adams and the Ducks play at Arizona State and host USC of the Pac-12 South this season as well, so the conference schedule has some sauce.

Adams is a big unknown as the season starts, primarily because he didn't take care of school business as had been promoted in spring. Only in August did he get clearance to actually suit up for the football team after passing a math test.

But, again, that might be good for Oregon fans. The Ducks are rarely an underdog, but Adams has made the season scary by just being an outsider from the Oregon culture. A free-agent. That's becoming quite a thing in college athletics, especially basketball. Now, it is likely to spread to football, potentially keeping programs like North Dakota State from becoming dynasties because their top players might move to programs like Iowa State to improve them and show off their skills to NFL teams.

So, buckle up Oregon fans. It's going to be a … fun season of not relying on reliability that's been established from previous seasons. That didn't actually have such a downside for Ohio State last season, which played the final month with a freshman quarterback who started the season No. 3 on the depth chart. Maybe Oregon will play its way to a national title with a free-agent quarterback who had everyone in the state wondering about his reliability right up until he needed to show off his skills in the classroom and on the field.

 

 

Oregon set to return to Dallas

The Ducks will meet Auburn to start the 2019 season
June 30, 2015 / UO Media

Oregon is scheduled to kick off another college football season at AT&T Stadium, and the Texas venue won't be the only familiar element.

The Ducks will meet Auburn in the AdvoCare Classic to open the 2019 season, it was announced Tuesday. The matchup will take place Aug. 31 of that fall, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

"An invitation to participate on a stage likes this speaks to the reputation Oregon football has earned, and we're excited to be part of such a prestigious matchup,” UO athletic director Rob Mullens said.

Oregon last played in AT&T Stadium’s annual marquee season-opening matchup in 2011, losing to Louisiana State 40-27 in the game then known as the Cowboys Classic. That followed the Ducks' defeat nine months earlier to Auburn in the Bowl Championship Series title game following the 2010 regular season.

AT&T Stadium also hosted last season's inaugural College Football Playoff National Championship game, between Oregon and Ohio State.

Tuesday's announced date with Auburn fits in a series of premier nonconference matchups in the coming years for Oregon, including Michigan State in 2015, Nebraska in 2016 and 2017, and Ohio State in 2020 and 2021.

"We're excited about the opportunity to compete against another high quality nonconference opponent," UO coach Mark Helfrich said.

The Ducks' 2019 schedule also includes a home date with Nevada one week later, on Sept. 7 in Autzen Stadium. UO officials expect to complete the nonconference slate with another home date, against an opponent from the Football Championship Subdivision.

The addition of the Tigers helps fill a void created when a scheduled home-and-home series with Texas A&M was cancelled. The Ducks had been scheduled to play at Texas A&M in 2019. UO officials are still working to replace the void on the home schedule for 2018 created by the cancellation.

The neutral site game with Auburn comes with a $3.5 million payout for Oregon, and the athletic department has an obligation to purchase and resell 6,520 tickets. Details on ticket sales are to be announced, as is the TV schedule.

Oregon and Auburn have met in football just once, for the national championship on Jan. 10, 2011. The Tigers won 22-19 with a field goal on the game's final snap, after the Ducks tied it with a touchdown and two-point conversion with 2:33 to play.

 

Tattoo: The Ducks! The Ducks!

Mon, 02/09/2015 - 8:42pm
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Oregon's big foray into the college football signing day phenomenon actually happened five days late - or later - in terms of news the rest of the nation could focus on.

Monday, the Ducks extended the contract of head coach Mark Helfrich to the 2020 season, with the specifics being $17.5 million over five seasons. Oregon put a tattoo on its coach for the rest of the decade, unless he wants to bolt for the NFL - and the $3 million buyout. Doesn't seem likely, though.

Then, later in the day, the Ducks announced they had landed Vernon Adams, the three-year starting quarterback at FCS power Eastern Washington, as a potential replacement for Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota.

Adams joins a crowded group - at least until someone transfers - of players awaiting their shot at becoming the next standout at Autzen Stadium.

Adams threw for more than 10,000 yards while guiding the Eagles on their red turf. He'll graduate from EWU in June, then be able to join the Oregon football team in time to get ready for another run at a national title.

 

 

 

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