Early predictions for Oregon Ducks 2014 football schedule: 10-2

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Early predictions for Oregon Ducks 2014 football schedule: 10-2

The start times for some of Oregon’s football games next season have been released, so given that there’s not much else to write about, why not take a stab at some early score predictions?

Actually, a plethora of reasons exist against engaging in such an exercise but since when does practicality matter when posting predictions during the offseason?

Oregon's national title window remains open with the team returning enough talent, including quarterback Marcus Mariota, to make a run at being invited to the four-team playoffs.

But it's difficult to believe that this team is better than the teams of the past two seasons. So while I could see Oregon winning each game on the schedule, the smart money is on them stumbling once, if not twice. So I'm going with a prediction of 10-2 for the Ducks in 2014.

However, pinpointing those stumbles is quite difficult. Huge underdogs have ended the Ducks' national title hopes in each of the past three seasons.

Oregon's three losses over the past two seasons (Stanford in 2012, Stanford and Arizona in 2013) came with the Ducks being favored by a combined 46 points.

In 2011, a season after UO went to the BCS national title game, the Ducks lost the opener to LSU in Dallas, Texas but still had an outside shot at returning to the national title game before losing at home to USC, a 14.5-point underdog.

With questions at wide receiver and facing the challenge of replacing a host of defensive linemen and defensive backs, the Ducks have some concerning holes. But they should remain quite formidable. If Oregon patches up these potential weaknesses, the Ducks could be sitting at 12-0 by the end of the regular season.

History, however, suggests that them doing so is not very likely. 

Saturday, Aug. 30: vs. South Dakota, 7:30 p.m., Pac-12 Networks – The annual small-school beatdown features the Coyotes signing up for a butt whoopin’.  And what a butt whoopin’ it could be. South Dakota went 4-8 last season. Oregon should do all of us a favor and start its second-string across the board in order to make the game semi-close for at least the first quarter. That won’t happen. Still, the Ducks have typically been merciful against smaller programs and will “only” win 61-13.

Saturday, Sept. 6: vs. Michigan State, 3:30 p.m., FOX/FOX Deportes – In what could be considered the biggest non-conference game ever played at Autzen Stadium, the Ducks will face a serious foe with a defense capable of giving them fits. This will be the first test to see if last year’s four-game stumble by the offense at the end of the season has been rectified. The Spartans were 13-1 last season and ended the year with wins over No. 2 Ohio State (34-24) and a 24-20 victory against No. 5 Stanford in the Rose Bowl. The same Stanford that has owned Oregon the past two seasons. Oregon will need young wide receivers to emerge in order to win this game. For now, I'm calling this game a loss. MSU 31-27.

Saturday, Sept. 13: vs. Wyoming, 11 a.m., Pac-12 Networks. – Breakfast, anyone? Might be the earliest kickoff ever at Autzen, which won’t be so bad since most in attendance could be asleep by the second quarter anyway. The Cowboys went 4-7 last year and allowed four teams not named Oregon to score more than 50 points. Uh oh! Ducks 54-20.

Saturday, Sept. 20: at Washington State, Pullman, Wash., time TBA – The Cougars demonstrated great improvement last year and threw for a ton of yards against the Ducks. But their defense remains under construction so UO shouldn’t have much trouble. Ducks 42-24.

Thursday, Oct. 2: vs. Arizona, 7:30 p.m., ESPN – The first revenge game of the season features the Wildcats at home. Arizona throttled the reeling Ducks, 42-16 last year to end any chance of going to the national title game. Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez has the Wildcats' offense going in the right direction and they should be productive against Oregon. Just not enough to overcome a UO team that should be seeing red against the Wildcats. UO 44-27.

Saturday, Oct. 11 at UCLA, Pasadena, Calif., time TBA – The Bruins are an up-and-coming program that went 10-3 last season. This is a troublesome game for the Ducks and one that they will lose if the wide receiver position is not solidified. UCLA has the athletes to matchup and quarterback Brett Hundley will be a year older and wiser. Bruins 37-33.

Saturday, Oct. 18 vs. Washington, time TBA. – The Huskies had their chance to take down the Ducks last season but failed miserably. Now they start over with new coach Chris Petersen, who had great success at Boise State and twice defeated Oregon. He will likely need some time to get things rolling at UW, however. Ducks 39-23.

Friday, Oct. 24 at California, Santa Clara, Calif., 7 p.m., FOX Sports 1 – The Golden Bears got rid of Jeff Tedford following a 3-9 season in 2012 and promptly went 1-11 last season. The rebuild continues in 2013. Ducks 44-13.

Saturday, Nov. 1 vs. Stanford, time TBA – I guarantee that the Ducks, despite all of their "every game is the Super Bowl" talk, will have this game circled on their calendar. Mariota probably has it circled with a bull’s-eye. He admitted last season to having a chip on his shoulder from the 2012 loss. Said “chip” must be the size of a small country by now. Fortunately for Oregon, Stanford lost a ton of players on defense so maybe, just maybe, the Ducks will end a two-game losing streak against the Cardinal. UO 31-17.

Nov. 8 at Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, time TBA – The Utes went 5-7 last year but hung around bit with the Ducks, losing 44-21 at Autzen. Let’s go 40-24 for UO this season.

Saturday, Nov. 22 vs. Colorado, Time TBA – Colorado improved last year to 4-8 from 1-11 the previous season. The Buffaloes will need much more time to reach Oregon’s level. Ducks 47-13.

Saturday, Nov. 29 at Oregon State, Corvallis, time TBA. – The Beavers almost pulled off the upset at Autzen last year and with quarterback Sean Mannion back will look to end its six-game losing streak against the Ducks. OSU will have a shot, but UO will get it done, 42-27.

Taggart and Oregon land two more key commitments, Slade-Matautia and Faoliu

Taggart and Oregon land two more key commitments, Slade-Matautia and Faoliu

Oregon had several key recruits visit over the weekend during its final push before signing day on Feb. 1 but it was two players who weren't there that on Saturday gave oral commitments to the Ducks. 

Linebacker Isaac Slade-Matautia, a four-star recruit (Rivals.com) out of St. Louis High School in Honolulu, Hawaii, and defensive tackle Austin Faoliu, a three-star recruit out of Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif., announced that they will be attending Oregon.

Both players made his announcement at the Polynesian Bowl in Hawaii. According to 247Sports.com, Oklahoma was favored to land Faoliu after he decommitted from Arizona.  He becomes the third former Arizona commit to end up on Oregon's commitment list joining four-star quarterback Braxton Burmeister and three-star wide receiver Darrian McNeal

Slade-Matautia visited Oregon last weekend, according to 247Sports, while Faoliu has not yet visited Eugene.  

Their commitments give Oregon 16 for the 2017 class and bumped the Ducks' class ranking on Rivals.com up to No. 35 in the nation from No. 48 when they had 14 commitments. The class ranks No. 30 in 247Sports.com's composite rankings

Oregon's class ranks No. 7 in the Pac-12, according to Rivals.com, but it should be able to move past No. 6 Colorado and No. 5 Arizona with great ease. 

New Oregon coach Willie Taggart has now landed seven commitments since taking over as head coach on Dec. 7. Of those, three are four-star recruits while four rank as three-star players.  

Nine recruits still remain that committed to Oregon under former coach Mark Helfrich. Of those, four are four-star recruits and five are three-star recruits. Helfrich had as many as 11 commitments and the Ducks' class ranked No. 23 in the nation before he was fired on Nov. 29 following a 4-8 season. 

Oregon still has a strong chance to get its class ranking back into the low 20s. The Ducks will try to close strong next weekend when they have another group of recruits in for visits. Plus, one would have to think that UO will secure a commitment, or two, from the group that visited this weekend. 

Oregon's average star ranking of 3.38 ranks No. 19 in the country. The Ducks' seven four-star recruits rank tied for No. 16. However, several programs with as many or fewer four-star recruits have also received commitments from five-star recruits, which Oregon has not. Those teams include Florida State (three), Clemson (three), Stanford (three) and UCLA (2). 

Of the 34 programs ranked ahead of Oregon on Rivals.com's national list, 26 have received more commitments than the Ducks. Simply filling out the class with three-star recruits would likely bump UO into the 20s. Mixing in a couple more four-star recruits could propel the Ducks closer, if not into, the top 20. 

For example, Miami's class of 20 players ranks No. 14 in the nation and it includes six four-star recruits and 13 three-star recruits. 

 

Oregon wins school-record 16th straight, grabbing a 69-52 victory over Stanford

Oregon wins school-record 16th straight, grabbing a 69-52 victory over Stanford

This was a game a 112 years in the making. Never in the history of the program had the Ducks won 16 straight games, but they came into this one with a chance to write their names in the record books. It didn’t take long for those in attendance to realize that historic 16th straight win was going to happen.

For a split second it looked like Stanford came to play. The Cardinal jumped out the a quick 5-0 lead, and forced a turnover on each of Oregon’s first two possessions. Then, like a coiled snake ready to the strike, the exploded.

Oregon answered with an 11-0 run to take the 11-5 lead, and it was all Ducks from that point on.  Dylan Ennis and Chris Boucher paced the offense, and when the two teams left the court at halftime Oregon had the 39-22 lead. The game was so lopsided in Oregon’s favor that when the team’s returned to the court the score was 40-22 after a video review pointed out that a two-point basket by Ennis midway through the half was actually a three.

Stanford looked better to start to the second half, but the Ducks were just the superior team. It looked like they were playing a game of cat and mouse. Anytime it looked like Stanford would make a run, the Ducks would flex and make sure it didn’t happen.

However, the win was not without it’s flaws. Oregon committed 19 turnovers on the night, something this team cannot afford to due Feb. 4 when the face the red hot and rolling Arizona Wildcats. But that stat, as ballooned as it was, still paints a good picture of how dominating Oregon was. How you ask? How often does a team commit nearly 20 turnovers, and still win by 17? Not very often, but the Ducks did it tonight.

Standout Ducks: Dylan Ennis and Chris Boucher were unstoppable in the first half, scoring 13 and 12 respectively. Not only did they combine for 25 of the Ducks 40 first half points, but the duo outscored Standford 25-22 as well. Ennis ended with 15 points on four of six shooting, while Boucher notched a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

Next Up:  The Ducks hit the road to face the Utah Utes on Thursday, Jan. 26, and the Colorado Buffloes on Saturday, Jan. 28. The Ducks return home Feb. 4 for a marquee matchup with the Arizona Wildcats.

Oregon coach Willie Taggart and staff 'storm' state on recruiting tour

Oregon coach Willie Taggart and staff 'storm' state on recruiting tour

New Oregon coach Willie Taggart and several assistant coaches are making the recruiting rounds throughout the Portland area today in what they are calling a 'storm tour' designed to meet with high school football coaches and any players the Ducks are in the process of recruiting. 

"We don't know any of the coaches in the state so this is a chance to get out and meet them," Taggart said. "One thing I hate to hear is that there's not a lot of prospects in the state of Oregon. For me, the best players that can come help us, we want to get out and see them."

Taggart became Oregon's head coach on Dec. 7, more than a week after the Ducks fired Mark Helfrich following a 4-8 season. Taggart has assembled a strong coaching staff full of top-notch recruiters. But the group is lacking in the way of area recruiting ties. Schools on the coaches' radar today include Lake Oswego, Jesuit, Madison, Westview, Central Catholic, Clackamas, Oregon City, Sherwood, Tigard and Lakeridge. Taggart and his staff went on a similar tour on Jan. 12 around the Eugene area and the southern part of the state, including Medford. 

The state of Oregon is not know for producing a strong group of major college recruits on an annual basis, although the 2018 class is projected to be one of the deepest to come out of the state in some time. 

The Ducks primarily recruited the West Coast under Helfrich, Chip Kelly and Mike Bellotti. Under Bellotti, and later more so with Kelly, UO  began expanding east. Taggart said he will continue to heavily recruit the West Coast but the hope is that his staff can improve Oregon's success in the Southeast part of the country. Taggart came to Oregon from South Florida. New co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Mario Cristobal came to Oregon from Alabama. Other assistants also have recruiting connections across the country. The Ducks have already secured commitments from three players out of Florida.

That all said, Taggart said he wants to make sure his staff owns the state of Oregon.  

"We want to let the coaches know that we're going to be around and we're going to recruit the state, first and foremost," Taggart said. 

The Eugene tour included a police escort of four motorcycle patrolmen. Taggart said he wanted to make a statement and some noise. 

"We wanted to be noticed," he said. 

The plan that day included also going to Portland but a snowstorm closed local schools. So the Portland-are tour was postponed until today.

Oregon has traditionally done well with in-state recruiting. However, so far just one out of the top 10 recruits in the 2017 class have committed to UO. The Ducks have extended offers to six. Two of the top four recruits, defensive lineman Marlon Tuipulotu (Independence) and defensive back Elijah Molden (West Linn) have committed to rival Washington. 

West Linn offensive tackle Alex Forsyth committed to Oregon under Helfrich on has stated that he still plans to attend Oregon under Taggart.

While at South Florida, Taggart said he could recruit within a 60-mile radius to build his roster. That area was considered his in-state recruiting. Outside of that area he considered out-of-state, even though the span remained within the state of Florida. 

Oregon is the exact opposite. Oregon could never contend for a Pac-12 championship while relying solely on players in the Northwest, let alone the state of Oregon. But he said he at least wants to make sure that the Ducks don't overlook anyone. 

"We're not going to leave any stones unturned," Taggart said. 

That starts with building relationships with coaches.

"Instead of asking them to come to us," Taggart said. "We're going to them to try to get to know them, and to let them know that they are always welcome to visit UO."

The staff will hit as many high schools today as possible before returning to Eugene for a recruiting weekend that involves visits from several recruits. Taggart said Oregon had 25 official visits remaining to be used when he arrived. Many will be used this weekend. Some were used last weekend. The final weekend before National Signing Day on Feb. 1 will also involve several key visits. 

Taggart said his staff will individually recruit certain areas, unlike the former staff which moved to recruiting by position several years ago. Taggart said that position coaches will get involved later in the process but that he wants his staff to develop a consistent presence in certain areas, including the state of Oregon.

"We want to make sure we don't overlook the best in-state players," Taggart said. "We want to keep them in the state as Ducks."

Preview: Stanford at No. 11 Oregon

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Preview: Stanford at No. 11 Oregon

This game is more than just another win, although some Oregon players and coaches just see it that way. No. 11 Oregon is one step closer to history following its 86-63 win over California last Thursday night and welcome unranked Stanford (11-8, 3-4 Pac-12) tomorrow at 3 p.m.

With an Oregon win, first of all the Ducks will now be sitting on a 16-game win streak, the longest in program history and breaking the previous 15-game win streak over 100 years ago. Second, if the Ducks win, Oregon extends its home win streak to 38 games, second in the nation behind Kansas (49 games). A win last Thursday also secured Oregon coach Dana Altman's 20th straight winning season. What a week for Oregon basketball.  

A big question raised following Thursday's win against California is the status of junior forward Dillon Brooks, who walked off the court just before halftime with an apparent foot injury. Altman said the trainers are evaluating him and the team is waiting on the diagnosis.  

The 3-4 Stanford Cardinal started off the season 0-4 and has won the last three straight partly due to the activity of junior forward Reid Travis and a force under the hoop of junior forward Michael Humphrey. 

A quick look at the game:

Stanford at No. 11 Oregon

Where: Matthew Knight Arena, Eugene, Ore. 

When: 3:00 p.m., Saturday January 21, 2017.

TV: Pac-12 Networks. 

Records: Ducks (17-2, 6-0 Pac-12), Cardinal (11-8, 3-4 Pac-12).   

Last outings: Oregon extended its current win streak to 15 with a dominant 86-63 performance at home over California. Stanford cruised past Oregon State in Corvallis, OR, 62-46. 

Coaches: UO's Dana Altman (171-66 at Oregon, 581-309 Division I). Stanford's Jerod Haase (11-8 at Stanford, 80-53 at Alabama-Birmingham).

Key Ducks: G Tyler Dorsey, 6-4, So., (12.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg, .385 3FG pct.), G Dylan Ennis, 6-2, Sr., (11.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.6 apg), G Payton Pritchard, 6-2, Fr., (8.1 ppg, 3.9 apg), F Jordan Bell, 6-9, Jr., (11.0 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 2.2 bpg), F Chris Boucher, 6-10, Sr., (13.0 ppg, 6.7 rpg).

Key Cardinal: F Michael Humphrey, 6-9, Jr. (9.6 ppg, 5.7 rpg), F Reid Travis, 6-8, Jr., (16.6 ppg, 8.9 rpg), G Marcus Allen, 6-3, Sr., (5.3 ppg, 2.2 rpg). 

Notes: An Oregon victory will break the programs' all-time winning streak of 15 games...Stanford has won the last three Pac-12 games in a row....Oregon looks to extend home win streak to 38 games. 

 

Oregon coach Willie Taggart addresses workouts, strength coach following controversy

Oregon coach Willie Taggart addresses workouts, strength coach following controversy

Oregon coach Willie Taggart characterized the workouts his team conducted last Friday that led to three players being hospitalized as "warm-ups" designed to get the team ready for the more difficult tasks ahead during winter conditioning.

They were not, Taggart said, "military-style," treacherous and dangerous workouts that many painted them out to be after the story, first reported on Monday by The Oregonian/OregonLive.com, became a national topic of conversation and sparked discussion and conversation over player safety in college football.   

Redshirt freshman tight end Cam McCormick, redshirt senior offensive lineman Doug Brenner and redshirt freshman offensive lineman Sam Poutasi were sent to Springfield PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at Riverbend last Friday evening after experiencing symptoms of Rhabdomyolysis hours after completing a 6 a.m. workout during winter conditioning. 

The narrative left Taggart exasperated. The last thing, he said, that he and his staff would ever do is endanger players. What occurred, according to Taggart, was an unfortunate incident that has been blown out of proportion.  

“People are convinced that we’re (dumb) and don’t care about our players,” Taggart said. “We want our fan base to know that we do.”

The controversy that found its way into newspapers and onto websites and television networks across the nation abruptly ended what for Taggart had been about as good of a first month on a job as anyone could ever hope for. 

Taggart, hired on Dec. 7 to replace Mark Helfrich, hit the recruiting trail running by landing commitments within weeks, he assembled what appears to be a dynamic coaching staff, and he successfully rebranded the program, replacing "Win the Day" with "Do Something."

Then, in as much time as it takes to do a push up, Taggart found himself being forced to defend the workout regimen in question put forth by his strength and conditioning coach, Irele Oderinde.

Oregon on Tuesday suspended Oderinde for a month, and Taggart and UO athletic director Rob Mullens released statements in which Taggart took responsibility for the situation while Mullens emphasized that the University holds the well-being of its students in high regard.

All three players are expected to recover. Brenner has already been released. What happened was certainly unfortunate. The question is, was anyone at fault?

--- Introductory workouts

Oregon began winter conditioning last week. Workouts conducted by Oderinde were held last Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. 

The idea, Taggart said, was to ease the players out of winter break with workouts that didn't consist of running or weight lifting. Oregon missed a bowl game last season for the first time since 2004. That meant that returning players had an extra full month off from structured football activities that they weren't used to having. Their season ended with a loss at Oregon State on Nov. 26.

Typically Oregon's seasons end around the first of the year with a bowl game appearance. 

“We knew our guys weren’t in shape so we didn’t put them in the weight room or run them, or anything” Taggart said. “We’re going to build up to that. It all started with pushups and sit-ups.”

Oderinde used the same workouts under Taggart at South Florida and Western Kentucky. Oderinde played at WKU when Taggart was an assistant there from 1999 through 2006. Oderinde later worked as a strength coach at WKU during Taggart's tenure as the Hilltoppers head coach. By the time Oderinde made it to USF under Taggart in 2014, the strength coach had nearly 10 years of experience, according to the Bulls' website, with previous stops at West Virginia, South Carolina and Notre Dame

The workout sessions, which included planks, were designed to last 45 minutes with the team broken up into three groups with start times of 6 a.m., 8 a.m. and 10 a.m.  Workouts were extended if players didn't use proper technique and/or didn't follow directions, according to Taggart. Punishment involved up downs as a group even if one player botched the workout.

“The whole team is held accountable,” Taggart said. “Then they go back to pushups and sit-ups and do it right. It’s more about just teaching guys the details and how we’re going to do things the right way.”

During last year’s 4-8 season, which led to the firing of Helfrich, players slacked in some areas, namely preparation and attention to detail. Taggart has told the team that those days are over.

Reestablishing accountability, however, does not involve cruelty, according to Taggart. 

Players, Taggart said, were given breaks and allowed to get water whenever needed. Then they could resume the workouts when they were ready to do so.

“No one expected everyone to make it and do them all,” Taggart said.

For that reason, according to Taggart, coaches did not order players to continue working past their limitations. Only vocal encouragement was involved. 

“Coach O doesn’t even work that way,” Taggart said. “He’s not even that kind of guy. He doesn’t yell, he doesn’t do any of that stuff.”

Many players, Taggart said, took advantage of the ability to take breaks when they reached their max. In fact, Taggart said, coaches knew that many players wouldn’t finish the workouts. Some assistant coaches and trainers were present for the workouts. 

“We had some guys struggling,” Taggart said. “We had some guys sit out and not finish.”

--- Overdoing it

The scene involving Brenner, Poutasi and McCormick, Taggart said, did not involve the players passing out on the field and having to be rushed to the hospital. 

According to Taggart, the hospitalized players participated in a 6 a.m. session on Friday (the fourth day of the workouts) then went to classes, and carried out the rest of their day before returning to the football complex for dinner.

It was then that Taggart said the three players complained about not feeling right and that their urine was dark, a symptom of Rhabdomyolysis. The condition, described on Webmd.com, is a rare and serious side effect caused by the breakdown of muscle tissue to the point where it could lead to permanent paralysis, and can cause serious kidney damage. Symptoms include muscle aches and dark-colored urine.

Extreme muscle strain can be a cause and it can become more dangerous if there is more muscle mass to breakdown. Brenner is listed at 320 pounds. Poutasi is 315. McCormick is 240.

Those suffering Rhabdomyolysis can experience muscle pain and have trouble moving their limbs. A product of muscle breakdown is creatine kinase, an enzyme found in the muscles. which can increase in the blood stream. Normal CK levels for a male over 18 is between 52 to 336 units per liter of blood. A marathon runner can reach into the low thousands. According to sources, the players hospitalized had CK levels well over 60,000.

Taggart praised head trainer Kevin Steil for recognizing the problem and responding the way that he did by examining the players and then having them taken to the hospital where they could receive intravenous fluids. Taggart visited them at the hospital.  

One potential cause of what happened is that the players were not properly hydrated before the workouts. Also, the players, pushed themselves too hard.

“A lot of that comes with wanting to impress the new coaches,” Taggart said. “But all of the trainers were out there. It wasn’t like coach ‘O’ was out there just beating them down. You’ve got certified trainers out there with them.”

Trainers are required by the NCAA to be beholden to the department and not a specific team. This prevents coaches from hiring their own trainers and then influencing them to overlook workouts or injuries that might put an athlete’s health at risk.

One veteran player, speaking anonymously, said he enjoyed and completed the workouts. He added that they were clearly designed to test the will of the players but stated that there was no pressure to complete the tasks beyond one’s limits. If a player reached their max, they could stop. 

Taggart said it was made clear to the team that players were not going to win starting jobs in January and to take care of themselves as they push through a new regimen of workouts they were not used to.

“We want you to go hard but not to a limit that you’re going to kill yourself,” Taggart said.

While some players backed off, Brenner, Poutasi and McCormick did not.

“These guys were tough guys and wanted to show the coaches,” Taggart said. “That’s probably what was part of the problem. They didn’t want to be the guy that quit. There were other guys that quit and they didn’t want to so they probably pushed themselves to a limit that they shouldn’t have.”

Moving forward, Taggart said his staff must do a better job of making sure players are properly hydrated, something he said was routinely emphasized, and explaining to players that they shouldn’t feel pressured to push themselves too far beyond their physical limits. 

A narrative floating around that the hospitalized players were too “soft” or "out of shape" bothers Taggart. 

“Those guys finished the workout,” Taggart said. "Others did not. The fact that those guys finished like that, it says lot about them. I hate that they had to go to the hospital, but it says a lot about them.”

Some fans on social media have stated that the hospitalization of players following the first week of winter workouts further proves that Ducks were slacking under Helfrich. Taggart doesn’t agree.

“That’s a bunch of baloney,” Taggart said. “People are going to have their opinions. It’s just different philosophies on workouts. I hate it because when they call our guys ‘soft,’ they are calling me soft too.”

Nobody, Taggart said, is being labeled as anything other than trying to get in shape for a long season ahead.

--- #FREECOACHO

Taggart said players seemed to enjoy the workouts and were excited to get back out there for more. That statement is supported by their reaction to the controversy through social media.

“They are ticked off because they were enjoying the workouts,” Taggart said. “Even the guys that were in the hospital.”

Several players took to Twitter to support Oderinde, whom some refer to as “Coach O," and started a #FreeCoachO hashtag. 

Junior cornerback Ugo Amadi Tweeted that the workouts weren't nearly as difficult as the media made them out to be. 

Redshirt junior safety Mattrell McGraw also defended Oderinde.

“The response that they have given, to me, says a lot,” Taggart said. “They wouldn’t say that if it were someone that didn’t have their best interest at heart and was trying to kill them. He’s one of the best guys you’ll ever meet. He’s not military. He’s just a good dude.”

Taggart has gotten good results from Oderinde in the past.

“I trust him,” said Taggart. “I love what he did with our football team at South Florida and I know what he could do with our guys here. But now a good guy, a good strength coach is being portrayed as somebody just whipping our kids’ butts and that’s wrong.”

Former USF players certainly appear to support Oderinde, according to a recent report in the Tampa Bay Times.

Players said that nobody they ever played with under Taggart and Oderinde ever ended up in the hospital after a workout.

Former Bulls offensive lineman Mak Djulbegovic said to the Tampa Bay Times that Oderinde isn't “gonna make you do something that's not reasonable."

"Sure, it'll be very difficult," Djulbegovic continued, "but if you don't take the right steps to be ready for these things, you might wind up in the hospital as these kids found out. Hopefully they learned their lesson."

The goal is to make the team bigger and stronger beyond what they have been used to at Oregon. It’s not that the Ducks didn’t seek size under former football strength coach Jimmy Radcliffe, but the emphasis at many positions had been more about speed and stamina given the pace of the offense under former coaches Chip Kelly and Helfrich. 

Many UO players, sources say, are excited about the prospects of getting bigger, which could help increase their NFL potential. 

“Guys are saying they want to get bigger, they want to get stronger,” Taggart said.

Taggart, who declined to discuss the details surrounding Oderinde's suspension, said his workout philosophy is no better or worse than what was being done under Radcliffe, it’s just different. Clearly Oregon experienced great success in the recent past.

While a couple of player parents wondered if the workouts might have been over the top since three players went to the hospital, some told CSN, anonymously, that they and their sons didn’t have a problem with them and were excited to continue working with Oderinde.

A department source said there is no doubt in his mind that the coaching staff cares about the players and their well-being. He said that they talk about it as a group.

The ridicule, Taggart said, has come up on the recruiting trail.  Taggart said parents of recruits have asked assistants about what happened and he believes opponents have used the hospitalizations as fodder for negative recruiting.

“All they hear is a ‘military-style workout,’" Taggart said, "and so now everybody is saying ‘they don’t know what they’re doing, they are hurting the kids, they don’t care about the kids’ welfare,’ and it’s not like that. And again, that’s why our players were so upset because they are putting a negative spin on it.”

In the end, Taggart believes that the players will perform better after going through his staff’s plan, just as players did at Western Kentucky and South Florida.

"We believe in what we're doing," Taggart said. "It’s one of those unfortunate situations that we all can learn from."

 

No. 11 Oregon chasing history; win 86-63 over Cal

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No. 11 Oregon chasing history; win 86-63 over Cal

How Oregon won: No. 11 Oregon made itself very comfortable from the three-point line tonight. The Ducks went 11-of-24 collectively as a team from three-point range behind the hot hand of junior guard Casey Benson's 5-of-5, 100 percent from the arc. No. 11 Oregon (17-2, 6-0 Pac-12) earned its 15th straight win with a 86-63 victory over the Cal Bears (13-6, 4-3 Pac-12).

"I've been saying it all along, if we take good ones, you know I thought we were better than what we were showing from the three," said Oregon coach Altman on his team's three-point percentage tonight. "I don't think we are going to be a 45 percent team, but we can shoot 40 [percent]. So it was a really good night for us. Casey [Benson] going 5-for-5 was really great." 

All eyes were on junior forward Dillon Brooks towards the end of the first half, but this time around was a different feeling. With 45 seconds remaining in the first half, junior forward Dillon Brooks left the court and headed for the locker room. He did not come back out with the team to warm up after halftime for what seemed to be a left foot injury. Brooks injured the same foot and was out for a few games at the beginning of the season. Still no word as to his condition or status for Stanford or beyond.

What it means: With this win, the Ducks are chasing history one step at a time. First of all, Oregon has now seven consecutive winning seasons. The last time this occured was 77 years ago (1934-1940). Second, this win extends Oregon's home win streak to 37, second in the nation behind Kansas (49 games). And third, the Ducks now sit on a 15-game win streak, which ties the longest in all-time Oregon program history. 

Key sequence: At 17:22 in the first half, it was Casey Benson's time to shine. It may seem simple, but Benson hit back-to-back huge three-pointers to extend the Ducks lead 16-12. But these two shots did more than just increase the score. Oregon rode the energy Benson brought off the bench and sparked a 9-3 run including a monster dunk from senior forward Chris Boucher to get him going as well. 

High flying Ducks: Off the bench, Benson demonstrated his leadership right away replacing Pritchard (foul trouble). Benson hit two quick three-pointers (both assists from Ennis), and wan't afraid to get physical under the hoop knocking the ball away from the Bears' big guys. Benson finished with 15 points on a perfect 5-of-5 from three-point range. Sophomore guard Tyler Dorsey was fearless driving to the hoop and either getting himself to the free throw line (he went 7-of-9) or dished out six assists. Tonight's MVP was junior forward Jordan Bell who finished with 26 points, six rebounds, two assists, and four blocks.  

Fowl play: Freshman guard Payton Pritchard got hit with two fouls early on and was forced to ride the bench most of the first half. Benson relieved him just three minutes into the game.

Up next: The Ducks host unranked Stanford (10-8, 2-4 Pac-12) for a mid-afternoon 3 p.m. start this Saturday at Matthew Knight Arena. 

Taggart finalizes staff with addition of Raymond Woodie

Taggart finalizes staff with addition of Raymond Woodie

Oregon football officially has a full staff.  Raymond Woodie will join Willie Taggart's staff as Oregon's special teams coordinator. Oregon assistant althetic director Andy MacNamara first reported the news on Oregon's Duck Insider radio show.

Last season, Woodie severed as defensive coordinator at Univeristy of South Florida. Woodie spent our seasons under Taggart at USF, and has been one of Taggart's long-time assistants, dating back to Western Kentucky in 2010-11.

Woodie is a native of Palmetto, Fla.

Pac-12 football schedule released: Oregon dates to circle, late bye and home stand

Pac-12 football schedule released: Oregon dates to circle, late bye and home stand

The Oregon football program will begin the Willie Taggart era in Autzen Stadium against against Southern Utah on Sept. 2. The Ducks round out preseason play against Nebraska at home on Sept. 9 and at Wyoming on Sept. 16. 

Now on to Oregon's Pac-12 conference schedule...

Due to the conference rotation, Oregon won't play USC and Colorado in 2017 and 2018. Colorado and USC finished first and second, respectively, in the Pac-12 South last season. 

Oregon's Pac-12 opener is at Arizona State on Sept. 23. The Ducks first home conference game is Sept. 30 against California.

The Ducks stay in Eugene to play Washington State on Oct. 7 before hitting the road for two straight road games at Stanford and then at UCLA.

Three out of Oregon's final four regular-season games are home, starting against Utah. 

Circle the next game in red, as the Ducks travel to Washington on Nov. 4 for their last road game. 

Oregon finishes the regular season against Arizona on Nov. 18 and Oregon State on Nov. 24. 

Sat 9/2 vs. Southern Utah
Sat 9/9 vs. Nebraska
Sat 9/16 @ Wyoming
Sat 9/23 @ Arizona State
Sat 9/30 vs. Cal
Sat 10/7 vs. WSU
Sat 10/14 @ Stanford
Sat 10/21 @ UCLA
Sat 10/28 vs. Utah
Sat 11/4 @ UW
Sat 11/18 vs. Arizona
Fri 11/24 vs. OSU
 

Oregon football strength and conditioning coach suspended following hospitalizations of three players

Oregon football strength and conditioning coach suspended following hospitalizations of three players

The following is a press release sent out by the University of Oregon today...

EUGENE – University of Oregon head football coach Willie Taggart today issued an apology on behalf of the coaching staff and the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics following incidents reported over the weekend related to off-season conditioning training that began last week.

“I have visited with the three young men involved in the incidents in the past few days and I have been in constant contact with their families, offering my sincere apologies,” Taggart said. “As the head football coach, I hold myself responsible for all of our football-related activities and the safety of our students must come first. I have addressed the issue with our strength and conditioning staff, and I fully support the actions taken today by the university. I want to thank our medical staff and doctors for caring for all of our young men, and I want to apologize to the university, our students, alumni and fans.”  

“The university holds the health, safety and well-being of all of our students in high regard,” said Rob Mullens, UO director of athletics. “We are confident that these athletes will soon return to full health, and we will continue to support them and their families in their recoveries.”

After a review of events surrounding the training last week, the following has been determined:

Last Tuesday, football student-athletes began their off-season conditioning program after being away from football-related activities for six weeks. The workouts were supervised by the training staff and led by football strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde.

On Thursday, after three days of workouts, one student-athlete complained of muscle soreness and displayed other symptoms of potential exercise-related injury. The medical staff examined the student-athlete, and took appropriate action pursuant to team’s medical protocols.

The medical staff informed coaches and staff of the diagnosis. Two additional student-athletes were then identified with similar symptoms and staff responded to them, as well.

No other student-athletes have demonstrated negative effects at this time or have been admitted to the hospital.

As a result, Oderinde has been suspended without pay for one month, with Jim Radcliffe assuming the position on an interim basis. In addition, the head football strength and conditioning coach will no longer report to the head football coach but rather to Andrew Murray, the director of performance and sports science. All workouts moving forward have been modified.