BREAKING: Oregon wide receiver Darren Carrington suspended for national title game

Darren Carrington

BREAKING: Oregon wide receiver Darren Carrington suspended for national title game

DALLAS - Oregon redshirt freshman wide receiver Darren Carrington failed a NCAA administered drug test and did not make the trip to Texas for Monday's national title game against Ohio State at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, according to multiple team sources.

The Ducks arrived here this evening. The team could try to appeal the suspension.  

Carrington tested positive for marijuana, according to sources.

Losing Carrington is a huge blow to the Ducks, already minus redshirt freshman wide receiver Devon Allen, who injured his knee on the opening kickoff of last week's Rose Bowl. 

[RELATED: Loss of WR Carrington bad news, but not devastating for Oregon Ducks]

Carrington delivered the best performance of his career during Oregon's 59-20 win over Florida State in the Rose Bowl playoff game when he caught seven passes for a season-high 165 yards and two touchdowns. Carrington was coming off having seven catches for 126 yards during UO's 51-13 win over Arizona in the Pac-12 title game on Dec. 5 in Santa Clara, Calif. 

Carrington has 37 receptions for 704 yards and four touchdowns on the season. He ranks second on the team in receiving yards and fourth in reception. 

Allen ranks second in receptions (41) and third in receiving yards (684), and leads the team with seven touchdown receptions.

That means 78 receptions, 1,388 receiving yards and 11 receiving touchdowns have been benched for the national title game. 

Pac-12 player of the week Dillon Brooks should also be player of the year

Pac-12 player of the week Dillon Brooks should also be player of the year

Oregon junior forward Dillon Brooks received his third Pac-12 Player of the Week award of the season today. Next week he should receive the conference's individual award that matters the most. 

The Pac-12's coaches should overlook raw statistical numbers and award Brooks conference player of the year in the days following the Ducks' final regular season game Saturday at Oregon State (5-25, 1-16). It's not a slam-dunk by any stretch, but the case for Brooks will be difficult for anyone to ignore. 

A national player of the year candidate, Brooks is the best player on the conference's best team. No. 6 Oregon (26-4, 15-2) is a win away from clinching at least a share of the Pac-12 regular season championship with No. 7 Arizona (26-4, 15-2).  The Ducks hold the head-to-head tiebreaker thanks to an 85-58 win over Arizona at home on Feb. 4. 

Last week Brooks averaged 18 points on 52 percent shooting while leading the Ducks to a sweep of California and Stanford in two games that were much closer than they should have been.

During the team's 68-65 win Wednesday at California, Brooks had a team-high 22 points, including a game-winning three pointer with two-tenths of a second remaining. He scored seven of his points in the final three minutes of the game.  

Brooks scored 14 points with four assists during UO's 75-73 win at Stanford (14-14, 6-10), on Saturday. 

The Ducks, a No. 1 seed in last year's NCAA Tournament after claiming both the regular season and tournament championships, have a chance to do the same this year, and that's thanks mostly to the play of Brooks, who overcame two foot injuries to get UO into this position. 

Statistically, his numbers don't jump off of the stats sheets as much as his play. Brooks' 15.6 points per game ranks 10th in the conference. He is shooting 51.7 percent from the field (15th) and 42.3 percent from three-point range (6th).  His 2.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game, however, certainly aren't impressive.  

Last year, Utah forward/center Jakob Poeltl, now in the NBA with the Toronto Raptors, received the Pac-12 player of the year award over Brooks after averaging 17.5 points and 9.6 rebounds per game. Poeltl's numbers overshadowed Oregon's team success with Brooks as the lead player averaging 16.7 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists.

That shouldn't happen again even though there is some tough competition. 

The two leading scorers in the conference are Washington freshman Markelle Fultz (23.2) and Arizona State senior Torian Graham (18.3). But their teams are under .500, so they shouldn't receive much consideration. Brooks would put up similar, if not better numbers on their teams. 

Stanford forward Travis Reid has probably the best all-around numbers, averaging 17.7 points (third) and 8.8 rebounds (5th). But the Cardinal weren't a threat this season. 

UCLA freshman forward T.J. Leaf (16.8 points and 8.7 rebounds) has been impressive but he will surely be overshadowed by UCLA freshman guard Lonzo Ball (15.8 points, conference-leading 7.6 assists and 6.2 rebounds).

In fact, the flashy and talented Ball, a sure high lottery pick should he decided to turn professional this summer, is the likely favorite. The No. 3 Bruins (26-3, 13-3) are a national title contender and Ball, two-time player of the week, is their leader. His all-around numbers, which includes 1.9 steals per game (second in the conference) can't be ignored. 

That said, Brooks' impact can't be solely judged by statistics. He clearly has the ability to do more in all areas but hasn't needed to on a Ducks team that spreads the wealth around.  

Plus, the injury factor can't be overlooked. Brooks, who missed his team's first three games before returning on a minutes restriction that lasted another eight games, has averaged just 23.2 minutes per contest while playing 25 minutes or less in 14 outings. Give him another 10 minutes of action per game and his scoring, based on shots per minute, would jump to around 20 points per night. 

Ball, by comparison, has averaged 35 minutes per game. 

The boost Brooks could need to overcome his statistical inferiority to other contenders could come from his two dramatic game-winning shots, the one at Cal and the three-point basket he made to defeat Ball and the Bruins, 89-87 at home on Dec. 28. 

Without those two moments, the Ducks would not be one win away from earning at least a co-championship. 

That fact, and Brooks' overcoming injuries to lead his team to a likely conference co-championship, make him the conference's player of the year. 

We will find out next week if the conference's coaches agree. 

No. 6 Oregon escapes Stanford with 75-73 win

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No. 6 Oregon escapes Stanford with 75-73 win

How Oregon won: It wasn't pretty, and UO has some work to do, but No. 6 Oregon (26-4, 15-2 Pac-12) escaped Stanford (14-14, 6-10 Pac-12) with a 75-73 win Saturday afternoon. 

For just the second time since 1976, the Ducks swept the Bay Area schools (California and Stanford). 

First off, the good: Four of Oregon's starters finished in double digits. Freshman guard Payton Pritchard finished with 13 points, five rebounds, and three assists. Sophomore guard Tyler Dorsey, who got off to a hot start but a quiet second half, finished with 15 points and a critical five-for-six from the free-throw line. Junior forward Dillon Brooks finished with 14 points and led the Ducks with four assists. Junior forward Jordan Bell finished with 13 points and the tip-in that gave the Ducks a 75-73 lead with just nine seconds left.

The Ducks won the turnover battle eight to 15 but more impressively they capitalized on those 15 Cardinal turnovers with 19 points. 

The Bad: Oregon lost the rebounding battle, badly. Stanford finished with 35 team rebounds, 14 alone from forward Reid Travis. Of those team rebounds, 15 were offensive and 22 were defensive rebounds. Tavis got excellent position down low by using his 6-foot-8, 245-pound body to his advantage. UO senior forward Chris Boucher and Bell got caught several times in the air on Travis' pump-fakes. The move drew a foul on Boucher who was forced to head to the bench early with three fouls in the first half.

The Ugly: The Ducks struggled from the free throw line going 10  of 20. Both teams were in foul trouble early which lead to lots of trips to the free throw line. Brooks went zero-for-two, Boucher went 2 of 6, and Pritchard 1 of 3. 

What it means: The Ducks broke the Bay Area curse by sweeping the Bay Area schools for just the second time since 1976.  Oregon had to face two good home teams, whom they struggled against historically, and had to face the emotional highs of senior night as well. On the plus side, facing and beating two tough road teams at the tail end of their season can only benefit the Ducks moving forward. 

Key sequence: Oregon went with its starters down the stretch: Pritchard, Ennis, Dorsey, Brooks, and Bell. Bell came up clutch in the final last possession of the game grabbing a defensive rebound to reset the shot clock and cause more time to come off the game clock. With the shot clock winding down, Ennis shot a three-pointer that was tipped, but Pritchard was there to throw it back up desperately trying to just hit the rim, which it idd. Bell was there to then clean it up, frantically, and got a lucky tip in to put the Ducks up 75-73 with nine seconds remaining. 

Of course, on Stanford's next possession everyone knew the ball would find Travis at the top of the key. Travis drove to his left but ran into good defense from Bell and Brooks helping down low off his player. Travis lost control and the ball as time expired for a Ducks win.

High flying Ducks: Dorsey found his stroke early and finished the first half leading Oregon with 13 points. He got quiet in the second half and finished the game with just 15 points on four-of-eight shooting. 

Fowl play: Boucher struggled against a stronger Reid Travis and picked up three fouls in the first half. He finished with four. Brooks finished with three fouls along with junior guard Casey Benson.

Up next: Oregon comes home but hit the road 45 minutes north to face the Oregon State Beavers (5-25, 1-16 Pac-12) in the second chapter of the Civil War this season on Saturday.

 

Can No. 6 Oregon come down from the clouds and refocus on Stanford? Preview: Oregon at Stanford

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Can No. 6 Oregon come down from the clouds and refocus on Stanford? Preview: Oregon at Stanford

Coming off quite the scary win at California last Wednesday, the No. 6 Oregon Ducks (25-4, 14-2 Pac-12) will need to refocus on a Stanford Cardinal (14-13, 6-9 Pac-12) team looking for revenge at 1:05 p.m. Saturday in Stanford, CA.

In their last meeting, the Ducks rolled the Cardinal 69-52 in Eugene. However, Stanford was missing a key element to both their offense and defense: junior forward Reid Travis who was out due to a shoulder injury at the time. Travis is currently averaging 16.7 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. This is a different team behind Travis. 

Last Friday, the Cardinal defeated the Pac-12 fourth ranked Cal Golden Bears 73-68 at home to add to their 11-4 home record. Stanford lost its first four home games but since then have protected Maples Pavilion Stadium perfectly. 

The Ducks can’t rely on another comeback win lead by their junior forward leader Dillon Brooks. The Canadian-trio of Brooks, senior forward Chris Boucher, and senior guard Dylan Ennis have been electric in the last two games and will be tested once again on Saturday. The trio combined for 53 of the team’s 68 total points vs. California.

A quick look at the game:

No. 6 Oregon at Stanford

Where: Maples Pavilion, Stanford, CA

When: 1:05 p.m.

TV: Pac-12 Networks        

Records: Ducks (25-4, 14-2 Pac-12), Cardinal (13-13, 6-9 Pac-12).

Last outings: Dillon Brooks saved the day for the Ducks in a comeback win capped with a game-winning three-pointer to beat Cal 68-65 in Berkeley on Wednesday. Stanford handed Oregon State another loss and defeated the Beavers 79-66 at home last Wednesday.

Coaches: UO's Dana Altman (179-68 at Oregon, 589-311 Division I). Stanford’s Jerod Haase (14-13 at Stanford, 94-66 overall). 

Key Ducks: G Tyler Dorsey, 6-4, So., (12.7 ppg, 3.4 rpg), G Dylan Ennis, 6-2, Sr., (11.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg), G Payton Pritchard, 6-2, Fr., (7.8 ppg, 3.1 rpg), F Jordan Bell, 6-9, Jr., (10.7 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 2.1 bpg), F Dillon Brooks, 6-7, Jr., (15.7 ppg, 2.8 rpg, .432 3PT%), F Chris Boucher, 6-10, Sr., (12.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 2.7 bpg).

Key Cardinal: G Marcus Allen, 6-3, Sr., (10.3 ppg, 2.1 rpg), G Marcus Sheffield, 6-5, So., (6.7 ppg, 1.7 rpg), F Reid Travis, 6-8, Jr., (16.7 ppg, 7.2 rpg), G/F Dorian Pickens, 6-5, Jr., (12.1 ppg, 3.2 rpg).

Notes: Jordan Bell is the only player in the Pac-12 ranked in the top 10 in rebounds (9th), blocks (4th) and steals (8th). He is also second in the league in fi eld goal percentage (.619)…Wednesday at Cal, Dana Altman tied Steve Belko (1956-71) for fourth in UO career coaching victories at Oregon with 179. He is one win back of W.J. Reinhart (180/1923-35) for third….The Ducks lead the nation at 6.9 blocks per game, and also lead the nation in total blocks with 199.

 

Dillon Brooks' game-winner caps Oregon comeback in 68-65 win at Cal

Dillon Brooks' game-winner caps Oregon comeback in 68-65 win at Cal

No. 6 Oregon 68, California 65

How Oregon won: Oregon junior forward Dillon Brooks made a three-point basket from straight away with two tenths of a second remaining to give the Ducks a 68-65 win Wednesday night against California at Haas Pavillion in Berkeley, Calif.

The winning shot, which was very similar to the one Brooks made on Dec. 29 during an 89-87 win at home over UCLA, ended a furious late run by UO to steal a game the Ducks trailed most of the night. 

The Ducks (24-4, 13-2 Pac-12) trailed 20-7 with seven minutes remaining in the first half after making just 2 out of their first 15 shot attempts, including missing all seven three point attempts within the first 13 minutes.

Oregon trailed 30-16 at halftime after scoring a season-low for a half, and trailed 37-21 with 16:51 remaining in the game. 

The Ducks got to within 39-30 with 13:43 remaining but then fell behind 47-34 with 10:06 remaining in the game thanks to California continuing to apply defensive pressure and make timely shots to stem any UO attempts at making a run. 

Oregon finally began to truly chip away at its deficit minutes later before getting to within striking distance late as Cal (18-8, 9-5) began to crumble by committing critical late turnovers.  

What it means: The Ducks put pressure on Arizona (25-3, 14-1) to continue winning. The Wildcats host USC Thursday night. Arizona leads Oregon by one game in the Pac-12 standings, but the Ducks hold the head-to-head tie breaker. 

Key sequence: Oregon trailed 59-52 before senior guard Dylan Ennis and freshman guard Payton Pritchard hit back-to-back three-pointers to make the score 59-58 with 3:07 remaining.

A score inside by senior forward Chris Boucher off of an assist from Pritchard gave the Ducks a 62-61 lead with two minutes remaining.

Cal's Grant Mullins gave his team a brief one-point lead before Brooks hit a jumper to make it 64-63, UO with 58 seconds remaining.

UO guard Tyler Dorsey's two free throws gave the Ducks a 65-63 lead, but Cal answered with a jumper from Ivan Rabb that tied the game at 65 with seven seconds remaining.

That led to the Brooks' heroics. 

High flying Ducks: Brooks had a game-high 22 points and Boucher scored 18 to go along with six rebounds off the bench. 

Oregon shot 46.3 percent from the field and made seven of its final 14 three-point attempts to get back into the game and win it. 

The Ducks committed just seven turnovers. 

Fowl play: Dorsey made just one of 8 shot attempts to finish with five points. Other than Boucher, the UO bench contributed zero scoring. 

Up next: Oregon continues its road trip Saturday at Stanford (13-13, 5-9) with a 3 p.m. tipoff.  

No. 6 Oregon can't allow momentum to wane on the road

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USA Today

No. 6 Oregon can't allow momentum to wane on the road

No. 7 Oregon has hit its stride. The defense has been dominant and the offense has been buzzing. 

About the only negative that can be said about the Ducks this season is that they have lost four games away from Matthew Knight Arena.

"We need to figure out how to stay focused on the road and not have letdowns," senior forward Chris Boucher told reporters on Tuesday. 

Yes, but lamenting that is nitpicking of the highest order. 

Oregon (24-4, 13-2 Pac-12) plays at California (18-8, 9-5) tonight in the final real "test" of the regular season. It's a "test" only because the game will be played away from Matthew Knight Arena where the Ducks enjoy a nation-leading, 41-game home winning streak. The Ducks squished Cal at home by the score of 86-43 on Jan. 19.  None of Oregon's final games of the season should be much trouble. Not Cal, and certainly not games at Stanford (13-13, 5-9) and Oregon State (5-23, 1-14). 

But if we were to search for a game that could hold some intrigue it would be tonight's 6 p.m. contest. 

"Cal is fighting for an NCAA berth and they'll give us everything," UO coach Dana Altman told reporters.

For that reason, UO should at least be leery. Still, if the Ducks are expecting to make a run at a national title they should be able to handle Cal in any arena. Yes, Cal does have size.

"Cal killed us with (19) offensive rebounds last time," Altman said.

Oregon had just 18 defensive rebounds. 

Nevertheless, Oregon won that game in blowout fashion. That said, Cal is a different team at home where its only two losses this season have come against No. 18 Virginia and No. 4 Arizona (25-3, 14-1). 

Let's get back to that home-away thing. Oregon's home vs. road play is slightly skewed. The Ducks are undefeated at home, which makes the four road losses appear glaring. If Oregon had two home losses and two road losses, nobody would care. So let's examine the team's four losses away from MKA. 

  1. Oregon lost at No. 9 Baylor without Dillon Brooks. Excusable. 
  2. The Ducks lost to Georgetown at the Maui Invitational the day Brooks returned to action. Hey, any loss in Hawaii is understandable. 
  3. The loss at Colorado (16-12, 6-9) could be viewed as just one of those nights, but that was at least a questionable loss. 
  4. Losing 82-79 at No. 5 UCLA (24-3, 11-3) two weeks ago was more than respectable. 

So, that's one questionable loss out of four. Not bad. For the Ducks to avoid a fifth loss away from MKA they must find the defensive mojo they seem to enjoy at home. 

"We have had some great spurts on the road with our defense, but we haven't done it for long enough periods of time," Altman said. 

Junior guard Casey Benson told reporters that the defensive energy must be produced from within because the home fans won't be able to give the team a boost. 

"We just have to pick each other up and bring our own energy," Benson said. 

From here on out the Ducks won't be able to rely on the home crowd to help them. So tonight is a good of a night as any for the Ducks to show that they don't need to play at home to be consistently dominant. 

Former Oregon OC Matt Lubick joins Petersen’s staff at UW

Former Oregon OC Matt Lubick joins Petersen’s staff at UW

Former Oregon offensive coordinator Matt Lubick has accepted a job as the Washington Huskies co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach, the school announced Wednesday.

Lubick, who coached at Oregon for the past four seasons, is joining his third new team since the end of the college football season. Lubick was not retained by new Oregon head coach Willie Taggart, and in late December was hired as the wide receivers coach at Ole Miss’.  However, his return to the school he coached at from 2005 to 2006 did not last long. In early January he jumped ship to take the co-offensive coordinator job at Baylor.

Just over a month later, he is on the move again and making is return to the Pac-12.

“I am excited to add Matt to our coaching staff,” Petersen said in a prepared statement. “He has earned a national reputation as an innovative coaching mind and a successful recruiter. Equally as important, we believe he will be a terrific fit with our staff, players and the University of Washington.”

Lubick will coordinate the offense with Jonathan Smith, who has coached the Huskies offense since 2013. It is a reunion of sorts for the two. Lubick was the defensive backs coach at Oregon State at the same time Smith was a record setting quarterback for the Beavers.

The Huskies open the season on September 1, at Rutgers, and play host to Lubick’s former team (and UW rival), the Oregon Ducks, on November 4.

Oregon officially hires Marcus Arroyo as co-offensive coordinator

Oregon officially hires Marcus Arroyo as co-offensive coordinator

EUGENE – Willie Taggart has announced the addition of Marcus Arroyoas the Ducks’ new co-offensive coordinator, as well as the team’s quarterbacks and tight ends coach.

Arroyo came to Eugene after spending two years as the running backs coach at Oklahoma State. His second year with the Cowboys brought a substantial uptick in the running game from 2015, as OSU went from averaging 3.6 yards per carry and 126.8 yards per game to averaging 4.52 yards per carry and 170.9 yards per game in 2016. The Cowboys’ 32 touchdowns in 2016 were also an improvement from their 25 in 2015.

Arroyo was also instrumental in grooming running back Justice Hill, who set OSU’s freshman rushing record in 2016 and was the nation’s top freshman rusher with 1,142 yards on 206 carries (5.54 ypc).

Prior to going to Stillwater, Arroyo spent the 2014-15 season in the NFL as interim offensive coordinator and play-caller for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He originally went to Tampa Bay to coach quarterbacks, but after a health procedure sidelined Bucs offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford, Arroyo took on the OC duties.

With Arroyo at the helm of the Tampa Bay offense, receivers Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson both eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving, the first time in team history a pair of receivers went over 1,000 yards. Evans also set franchise rookie records with 68 receptions, 1,051 yards and 12 touchdowns to become one of five finalists for NFL Rookie of the Year.

Before making the move to the NFL, Arroyo spent the 2013 season as the offensive coordinator and outside receivers coach at Southern Mississippi. Operating in Arroyo’s offense, true freshman quarterback Nick Mullens earned a spot on the Conference USA all-freshman team.

Arroyo gained experience working in the Pac-12 before going to USM, spending 2011 and 2012 as the passing-game coordinator and play-caller at California. Arroyo helped quarterback Zach Maynard work his way into the school’s career top 10 in both passing yards (5,204) and total offense (5,350) in only two seasons, and his 128.36 career passer efficiency rating is eighth in Cal history.

Arroyo spent the 2009 and 2010 campaigns at Wyoming as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, developing quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels into the Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year in 2009. Arroyo installed a new spread offense in 2009 that helped the Cowboys score 30 points or more five times and mount five fourth-quarter comebacks. Arroyo’s offense was stellar at taking care of the football, finishing seventh in the nation in fewest turnovers lost with only 14.

Prior to his stint at Wyoming, Arroyo was the co-offensive coordinator for two seasons and quarterbacks coach for three campaigns at his alma mater, San Jose State. He was the quarterbacks coach and play-caller for the Spartans in 2006, and added co-offensive coordinator duties for 2007 and 2008 under head coach Dick Tomey. Arroyo tutored the Spartans’ all-time leader in passing and total offense, Adam Tafralis, from 2006-07, guiding him to 7,548 career passing yards and 8,111 yards of total offense. Arroyo was an offensive graduate assistant at San Jose State in 2005 before being elevated to a full-time assistant.

Arroyo began his coaching career with the Spartans in 2003 as an undergraduate assistant coach. He was the offensive coordinator at Prairie View A&M (FCS) in 2004 before returning to San Jose State as a graduate assistant.

A native of Colfax, Calif., Arroyo was a three-year letterman at San Jose State, where he played quarterback from 1998-2002. In 2000, he passed for 2,334 yards and 15 touchdowns while leading the Spartans to seven wins, their most in eight seasons.

 

How Oregon's recruits fit in: DBs - Graham and Lenoir could push for instant playing time

How Oregon's recruits fit in: DBs - Graham and Lenoir could push for instant playing time

Oregon coach Willie Taggart last week signed his first recruiting class, which Rivals.com ranked No. 18 in the nation. Now CSN is taking a look at how each new recruit could fit into the Ducks' plans next season.

Other entries: QuarterbacksRunning backsWide receivers/tight endsOffensive line, Defensive lineLinebackers

Today: Defensive backs.

New Ducks: Cornerback Thomas Graham Jr. (6-0, 175, Rancho Cucamonga H.S., Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) and safeties Deommodore Lenoir (5-11, 183, Salesian H.S., Los Angeles, Calif.), Nick Pickett (6-1, 187, Salesian H.S., Los Angeles, Calif.) and Billy Gibson (6-1, 185, Miami Southridge H.S., Hialeah, Fla.). 

Projected starters: Cornerbacks Arrion Springs, Sr., (5-11, 205) and Ugo Amadi, (5-10, 195). Safeties Brenden Schooler, Soph., (6-2, 190) and Tyree Robinson, RSr., (6-4, 205).

Key backups: Cornerbacks - Tyree Robinson, RSr., (6-4, 205),  Malik Lovette, RSo., (5-11, 200) and Jihree Stewart, RSo., (6-0, 182). Safeties - Khalil Oliver, RJr., (6-0, 205), Juwaan Williams, RSr., (6-0, 200), Brady Breeze, RFr., (6-1, 205), Mattrell McGraw, RJr., (5-10, 195) and Fotu T. Leiato II, Jr., (6-1, 200). 

The situation: Oregon's landed two potentially elite defensive backs in Graham and Lenoir. Both should push a secondary that certainly didn't play impressive football in 2016. 

Graham, a four-star recruit rated by Rivals.com as the No. 12 cornerback in the nation, has a chance to push Springs and Amadi for a starting cornerback job. Lenoir, a four-star recruit rated as the top athlete in the nation, definitely could start at safety or be moved to cornerback.

Remember when Budda Baker got away from Oregon in 2014 and landed at Washington? Lenoir is his potential equivalent as an athletic safety. None of Oregon's returning safeties is a lock to start. Robinson, Schooler, Williams and Oliver could all be surpassed by Breeze, who redshirted last season. Add Lenoir to the mix and new safeties coach Keith Heyward will have a serious mess to sort through. 

Gibson and Pickett, both three-star recruits, don't figure to be candidates to push their way through a crowded field of safeties, but one never knows for sure until they start practicing. 

At cornerback, Springs and Amadi are the favorites to start with Robinson potentially remaining at cornerback. Experience will heavily favor the returners but none have lived up to their potential as of yet. That will open the door for Graham to make a move, especially as an early enrollee.   

The verdict: The secondary battles are going to be fun to watch. Unless Gibson or Pickett turns out to be a big surprise, both should redshirt behind a host of capable and more experienced safeties.  It would be a disappointment, however, if both Graham and Lenoir do not at least see time as backups in 2017. 

Preview: No. 6 Oregon at California

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Preview: No. 6 Oregon at California

Don’t be fooled by their record, the California Golden Bears (18-8, 9-5 Pac-12) are a scary team to play in Haas Pavilion. Of their 18-8 overall record, the Bears are 14-2 at home. The No. 6 Oregon Ducks (24-4, 13-2 Pac-12) have quite the challenge in front of them tomorrow night at 6 p.m. in Berkeley. 

The battle of the boards has been an issue for Oregon this season. California comes into this game as one of the top rebounding teams in the conference. In their last matchup back on January 19th, the Cal Bears out rebounded the Ducks 34 to 25. Of those 34 Bears rebounds, 19 came from the offense. However, Oregon coming off a dominant rebound performance against Colorado (another top rebounding team in the conference), proved that the Ducks can fight for boards from every position, including guard play. 

Four Ducks scored in double digits back in January: Bell lead all scores (26 points), Dorsey (16 points), Benson (15 points), and Brooks (10 points). Oregon made a collective nine three’s in the first half alone. Junior forward Jordan Bell’s performance was not only dominant on the offensive end, but he held Golden Bears sophomore forward Ivan Rabb to just four points. Rabb also found himself in foul trouble finishing with four. Rabb is currently averaging a double-double. Oregon’s other main concern, besides Rabb, is Golden Bears senior guard Jabari Bird, who accounted for 21 points, 15 of which from three-point range (five-of-nine). 

One other thing that has been a real challenge for Oregon this season is getting off to a good start on the road and maintaining that energy for 40 minutes. This could continue to be a concern as Oregon’s last three conference games are on the road: California, Stanford, and Oregon State.

Following the Ducks dominant performance over Colorado last Saturday, Oregon coach Dana Altman said, ”I didn't like our defensive energy early…We made a couple bad rotations which allowed them to have some good three's that they hit. So I didn't think we were very sharp to start the game... That's something that has really got to be a focus for us here going on the road, to finish three on the road."

A quick look at the game:

No. 6 Oregon at California

Where: Haas Pavilion, Berkeley, CA

When: 6:00 p.m.

TV: ESPN2        

Records: Ducks (24-4, 13-2 Pac-12), Golden Bears (18-8, 9-5 Pac-12). 

Last outings: The Ducks dominated Colorado in their final home game of the season, 101-73, last Saturday. California lost 73-68 to Stanford at Stanford last Friday. 

Coaches: UO's Dana Altman (178-68 at Oregon, 588-311 Division I). California’s Cuonzo Martin (59-34 at California, 183-116 overall). 

Key Ducks: G Tyler Dorsey, 6-4, So., (13.0 ppg, 3.4 rpg, .388 3PT%), G Dylan Ennis, 6-2, Sr., (11.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg, .396 3PT%), G Payton Pritchard, 6-2, Fr., (7.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg), F Jordan Bell, 6-9, Jr., (10.9 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 2.1 bpg), F Dillon Brooks, 6-7, Jr., (15.4 ppg, 2.8 rpg, .433 3PT%), F Chris Boucher, 6-10, Sr., (12.0 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 2.7 bpg).

Key Bears: F Ivan Rabb, 6-11, So., (14.8 ppg, 10.7 rpg), G Charlie Moore, 5-11, Fr., (13.2 ppg, 2.0 rpg), G Jabari Bird, 6-6, Sr., (14.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg).

Notes: This week, Oregon has clinched a first round BYE for the Pac-12 tournament coming up in March…The Ducks have their final three games on the road, rounding out their home-win streak to 42…Cal is 14-2 at home this season.