Singler on the Wildcats: We've Been Waiting For This One

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Singler on the Wildcats: We've Been Waiting For This One

By Jordan Whitley, College Basketball Insider, @JordanWhitley

VIDEO: The Ducks have only hosted one ranked team since the opening of Matt Knight Arena. So, the 3 Wildcats coming to town is a BIG deal.

The students are also back in town and are expected to pack the stands Thursday night. Combine those factors, and the pressure is ON for senior EJ Singler and the Ducks.

But it is a welcome challenge, and one could add yet another layer to the storied Singler legacy.

EJ will be matched with Arizona's Solomon Hill, who he touts as tough player to guard.

NOTES: Oregons game against third-ranked Arizona marks just the second time a ranked team has come to play the Ducks at Matthew Knight Arena. Oregon beat No. 20 Washington 81-76 on Feb. 5, 2011 in the first matchup against a ranked team at MKA.

Arizona is the highest-ranked opponent the Ducks have played since losing to No. 1 Duke, 98-71, at the Rose Garden in Portland, Ore., on Nov. 27, 2010.

Oregon is 1-1 against ranked teams this season with a win over No. 18 UNLV on Nov. 23 and
a 77-66 loss to No. 22 Cincinnati in Las Vegas the next night.

Oregon last beat a team ranked in the top five on Jan. 6, 2007, when the Ducks handed No. 5 UCLA a 68-66 defeat at McArthur Court.

Freshman QB Justin Herbert impressive thus far

Freshman QB Justin Herbert impressive thus far

Rolling along beneath the surface of Oregon's quarterback competition is freshman Justin Herbert. 

He has virtually no chance of playing this season and will likely redshirt. But that doesn't mean the 6-foot-6, three-star recruit out of Sheldon High School isn't making noise. 

"He really has exceeded all expectations," Oregon quarterback coach David Yost said. 

As with all first-year Oregon players, Herbert is not permitted to speak with the media until after the first game of the season. But Yost had plenty to say about his young pupil starting with pointing out how much Herbert did over the summer to prepare for fall camp in terms of learning the offense. 

That show of commitment has impressed, especially given that Herbert has little chance of playing right away.

Senior transfer Dakota Prukop is beating out redshirt freshman Travis Jonsen for the starting job. A formal announcement on the starter could come as soon as Thursday with the season opener looming Sept. 3 at home against UC Davis. 

Fellow true freshman, Terry Wilson Jr., who arrived on campus in time for spring drills, will likely redshirt along with Herbert unless Prukop and Jonsen were to go down. 

Jonsen, it's assumed, will be the backup while Wilson, who flashed considerable talent during spring, and Herbert compete for third-string. Or, could Herbert be in competition for a larger role?

"He is in the regular rotation right now and he's getting as many reps as all the other guys," Yost said. "I think he's definitely in competition for a spot to where he is traveling and he could be more than just a No. 3 guy."

Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said Tuesday that it's possible Oregon could have a true freshman backup at quarterback.

"(Herbert) is a very productive guy and has had a very good camp thus far," Helfrich said.  

Yost added that Herbert is easy going guy who picks up details within the offense well and has a quick release. 

"It's been really fun to work with," Yost said. "And he has a really natural feel for where to go with the ball through the progressions without having to sit there and over analyze it and over think about it."

But that was before the coaching staff began inputting more elements from the playbook. That, Yost said, slowed down Herbert's progression a bit and now he is playing catchup. His lack of experience within the offense, talent or not, will likely keep Herbert from challenging Jonsen for No. 2. 

Athleticism won't. Herbert, despite his height, can scoot. 

"He's got more athleticism more quickness and more foot speed than he'll probably get credit for because of his size," Yost said. 

The downside to Herbert looking so sharp is that the Ducks are almost assured of having at least one of their three freshmen quarterbacks leave the program within the next 18 months. 

Jonsen, Wilson and Herbert will compete for the starting job next year with one year separating Jonsen from the other two, assuming both redshirt. 

If Jonsen is the starter of the future, there is no way both Herbert and Wilson remain with one serving as the No. 3 with Jonsen having three years of eligibility remaining.

Should Wilson or Herbert end up the starter next season, Jonsen would surely move on. 

This situation, of course, is a good problem for Oregon to have moving forward. It's certainly better to have too many potential star quarterbacks than be forced to dip into the Big Sky talent pool in order to makeup for having a lack of elite talent at quarterback. 

 

Seisay's departure could hurt Oregon's secondary depth

Seisay's departure could hurt Oregon's secondary depth

The departure of Oregon cornerback Chris Seisay from the football program came somewhat as a shock to defensive backs coach John Neal. 

He said Monday that he is unsure why Seisay chose to seek a transfer from the program he joined in 2014. 

"You'd have to ask him," Neal said while also adding that people could piece together the various bits of information Seisay has dropped here and there. 

CSN asked Seisay on Sunday night when he left. He said via text message that the depth chart, where he was listed as backup cornerback, did not compel him to leave. He said it goes much deeper than that but did not elaborate. 

Seisay told The Oregonian that he didn't feel happy or on good terms with Ducks program. 

According to a source, Seisay has walked off the practice field in anger during fall camp. 

Last week, Seisay told CSN that he learned a lot from last season, when he missed eight games after entering the year as the team's No. 1 cornerback, that he needed to work harder and not expect things to be given to him.

He also said: “I’m just ready to prove everybody wrong. Everybody that’s doubted me, our whole group as a DB corps, our whole team.”

Neal last week said the following about Seisay: “Right now, when he plays well, he’s one of those guys. He’s going to play. Is he going to start? I don’t know. But he adds depth. He can play nickel. He can play dime."

Maybe Seisay didn't decide to leave because it appeared he would backup junior Arrion Springs and sophomore Ugo Amadi. But it's extremely rare for a starter to transfer out of Oregon, or any other program for that matter.  

Clearly, whatever the reasons, Seisay wasn't happy at Oregon and has moved on. The talented athlete should find success wherever he lands. 

"It's kind of heartbreaking," Neal said. 

So, what does losing Seisay mean for the Ducks? Tough to say at this point. Had Seisay been at his best and still a backup, Oregon would have been set with three starting-caliber cornerbacks. The Ducks right now can't boast to having one true, proven, big time starter at cornerback given last year's mess that saw Oregon allow 35 touchdown passes. 

Seisay's departure places more pressure on Springs and Amadi to improve dramatically. Behind them are promising redshirt freshman cornerback Malik Lovette and maybe redshirt junior cornerback Ty Griffin

We could also see starting redshirt junior safety Tyree Robinson at cornerback, if needed.  Neal likes his depth at safety with former starter Reggie Daniels backing up Juwaan Williams. 

"In some cases, Tyree is going to move out there," Neal said. 

Seisay wasn't going to make or break Oregon's defensive backfield. But his departure certainly doesn't help. 

 

Alabama tops AP’s preseason No. 1, Oregon sneaks in

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USATI

Alabama tops AP’s preseason No. 1, Oregon sneaks in

The first of one of the many polls that doesn’t make a spit bit of difference has been released!  Woohoo?!?

Sunday morning, less than a week before the 2016 season officially kicks off, the Associated Press unveiled a preseason Top 25 poll that has a decidedly 2015 College Football Playoffs feel to it.  Defending national champion Alabama has claimed the AP’s top spot, followed by national runner-up Clemson at No. 2 and semifinalist Oklahoma at No. 3.

The other 2015 playoff participant, Michigan State, will start the season at 12th.

Before we get on to the remainder of the poll, a word of warning to the Tide.

CONTINUE READING

 

The most underrated performances of the Olympics belong to Ducks

The most underrated performances of the Olympics belong to Ducks

Yes, there was Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt and Simone Biles -- they turned in spectacular performances in Rio. But please let's not forget what a trio of former Oregon Ducks pulled off in the Olympics. We're talking about historically significant stuff from Ashton Eaton, Matthew Centrowitz and Galen Rupp.

Eaton, competing in an event that used to be the centerpiece of the Olympics, won his second gold medal -- only the third man to take gold in the decathlon in back-to-back Olympics. Humble, polite and poised, he doesn't even like that "World's Greatest Athlete" label that usually goes with winning an Olympic decathlon gold medal. I hope he finds a challenging and fulfilling next chapter in his life. Certainly he's got the kind of versatility and poise to succeed in many different pursuits.

Centrowitz won the gold medal in the 1,500 meters, something that hadn't been done by a U.S. runner in more than a century. That's difficult to believe, in that this country has produced some terrific milers. Seriously, Centrowitz did something that Jim Ryun, Wes Santee, Steve Scott, Marty Liquori and so many others couldn't do. The list of great U.S. milers and 1,500-meter runners includes so many Ducks, too. I'll list just some of them, knowing full well I'll think of a few more later: Dyrol Burleson, Jim Grelle, Keith Forman, Roscoe Divine, Wade Bell, Dave Wilborn, Steve Prefontaine, Paul Geis, Rudy Chapa and even Matt Centrowitz Sr.

To do something that hasn't been done by an American since 1908 by is pretty amazing.

Rupp didn't come away with a gold medal. He settled for third in the marathon but considering it was just the second one he's ever run it was an amazing performance. Rupp has seemed to be searching for his best race and perhaps he's found it in the marathon, which is such a punishing discipline. He's successfully run every distance from the mile through 5,000 and 10,000 meters before trying 26 miles. He's got charisma and obvious toughness and someday he's going to bring a gold medal back to Portland.

There were other Ducks in Rio, of course. But this trio was the most special.

 

 

Oregon DB Chris Seisay leaves football team

Oregon DB Chris Seisay leaves football team

As first reported by 247Sports and confirmed by other outlets, Oregon Defensive Back Chris Seisay has left the football program. 

The redshirt junior cornerback, who missed eight games last season because of injury was not at Saturday's practice, according to 247Sports. Seisay indicated in a comment to OregonLive that the decision was not based on playing time.

The struggles Oregon's defensive backs experienced last season can't exactly be pinned on the injury to Seisay entering last season. But his absence certainly hurt. 

Seisay was supposed to be the next in a long line of great Oregon corners following the departure of Troy Hill and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu to the NFL. In fact, during the 2014 season Seisay started in place of the injured Ekpre-Olomu during the Rose Bowl win over Florida State, and in the national championship game loss to Ohio State. 

Seisay began 2015 well with an interception in the season opener against Eastern Washington. The following week at Michigan State, Seisay suffered an undisclosed injury. He underwent surgery, showed up the following week in a walking boot and was shutdown for two months. 

While Seisay was out, and after he returned, the Ducks secondary got lit up. Freshman Ugo Amadi was thrust into the starting lineup in place of Seisay. Other injury problems popped up in the secondary. The season ended up being a mess for a defense that finished ranked 116th in the nation. 

Seisay watched the madness unfold while not being able to do anything about it until the very end. An end that included a second-half collapse against TCU in the Alamo Bowl.

As of last week, Seisay was the No. 3 corner behind Amadi and junior Arrion Springs.  That role should have provided Seisay with plenty of opportunities to play in a conference loaded with teams that employ offensive schemes that require defenses to counter with five or six defensive backs. 

Brady Hoke's Oregon defense a work in progress

Brady Hoke's Oregon defense a work in progress

New Oregon defensive coordinator Brady Hoke didn't have many positive things to say about his unit's performance in the team's first scrimmage on Tuesday. 

“I can’t wait until the next scrimmage,” Hoke said with a smile. “There were guys competing. We gave up too many big plays. Some communication breakdowns. Leverage breakdowns."

Yikes! Sound familiar?

The defense, according to coach Mark Helfrich, allowed two one-play drives, reminiscent of some of the problems that plagued the unit last season when it ranked 116th in the nation. 

The buzz words that defined those struggled were "pursuit," "leverage," "tackling," "communication," etc.

They are popping up again. But hey, Rome wasn't...

You get the picture. 

So far, the only apparent improvements have come in attitude and spirit. The defensive backs feel as if they are being held accountable and have achieved a higher level of communication and effort. The front seven is flying around with reckless abandon. 

Even offensive players have noticed the difference.

“Just the way they’ve been able to attack and run to the football, it’s been a lot more aggressive,” Oregon senior right guard Cameron Hunt said.

Senior transfer quarterback Dakota Prukop said he has seen tremendous growth from the defense since spring drills. 

“The backside defensive players are doing such a great job with their pursuit angles,” he said.

So maybe the defense is headed in the right direction, but it appears to be far off from its intended destination. 

“I want to see how physical we are at the line of scrimmage," Hoke said. "How physical we tackle. If we do a good job with leverage in tackling, and those kind of things that are a part of football.”

Part of the problem is that the Ducks are relying on a lot of inexperienced, and/or provenly inconsistent players while also switching from the 3-4 scheme to a 4-3 defense.

The secondary returns virtually everybodyin a unit thay played very poorly most of last season. The front seven must replace six starters. 

That's 10 positions that will require tremendous upgrades in production over last season, or new players to have an impact, with only junior defensive end Henry Mondeaux as the lone returning player with much cache. 

“I really think this is a young defensive football team in a lot of ways,” Hoke said. “But I think some of the young guys who played a little bit are going to play more this year and some of the new guys that have come in, they bring a great intensity to them, also.”

Once everything clicks, the Ducks' defense could be just fine. When that will happen remains a mystery. 

“We’re closer than we were in the spring,” Hoke said.

That's all anyone could really hope for at this point. 

Oregon DBs: Smarter, better, deeper and hungrier

Oregon DBs: Smarter, better, deeper and hungrier

EUGENE - No Oregon position group - and maybe within the Pac-12 - faces more scrutiny, will be under as much pressure and has more to prove than the Ducks' secondary. 

Last season the secondary made the arts of covering and tackling appear Jedi-like in comparison to the effort it put forth on almost a weekly basis. 

The group has heard the scrutiny. They've felt the scorn.  Negativity has motivated them to respond. They feel confident that they will. But much work remains to be done. 

“I’m hoping, and I have my fingers crossed, that those guys will play at the level that we need to play at to win in this league,” Oregon defensive backs coach John Neal said. 

First, a recap of the mountain they must climb to reach respectability. Oregon last season ranked 95th in the nation in passing efficiency defense (139.14) while allowing a whopping 35 touchdown passes and intercepting 13. UO’s defense ranked 116th in yards allowed per game (485.3) and 115th in scoring defense (37.5 points per game), most attributed to a poor pass defense.

The good news is that Oregon returns virtually its entire defensive secondary. Or, is that the bad news? Depends on how one chooses to view the situation. From Oregon's perspective, last year's debacle will only make a talented group mentally stronger and thus better.  

“We don’t want to look at ourselves as the underdogs anymore because we’re young," Oregon redshirt junior cornerback Chris Seisay said. "Those days are over. We have to become the players that we know we could be.”

Oregon entered last season with a relatively young secondary. Only safety Reggie Daniels was a returning full-time starter. Tyree Robinson and Seisay started a couple of games. Then-sophomore cornerback Arrion Springs made his first career start last year, as did freshman Ugo Amadi. Toss in part-time starter, redshirt freshman Glenn Ihenacho (who has since transferred), and converted receiver Charles Nelson, and you have a group that could have been expected to struggle. Although, maybe not as much as it did. 

Poor fundamentals. Awful communication. Sloppy tackling. All contributed to the secondary's inability to make plays and prevent plays from being made. The group did improve as the season went along, peaking with strong performances during victories over California and USC.

That didn't last long. The secondary's deficiencies  were on full display against TCU in the Alamo Bowl when the Ducks blew a 31-0 halftime lead to fall 47-41 in three overtimes. 

Most of the damage to Oregon's defense was done through the air by a backup quarterback. The season, and that performance, has haunted the defensive backs the past seven months. 

“We know what we have to do," Robinson said. "We have to grind. We know what we did last year, especially as a defensive secondary. We’re just trying to be the leaders out there. We’re just trying to set the tone, especially on defense, and be the playmakers and make big plays.”

First, they must fix all that ailed them in 2015. 

For starters, better communication and trust is being established. Springs said some defensive backs didn't fully understand all of the coverage schemes last season and at times, overplayed things. That has changed. 

“I feel we’ve taken the next step in terms of being smarter,” Springs said.

Also, a lack of trust hurt the secondary because of indecisiveness and lack of communication. 

“The big plays we gave up last year were just communication," Robinson said. "So the little things can make big plays happen, so we’re just trying to limit those mistakes.”

A change in defensive approach could help. New defensive coordinator Brady Hoke promises to be more attacking up front. The Ducks last season produced 38 sacks (ninth in the nation), but at times struggled to apply consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks. The goal this season is to attack relentlessly in hops of producing more turnovers through forcing quarterbacks into bad throws. 

“The quarterback is going to have to get that ball out,” Amadi said.

Oregon's secondary is excited about those prospects. 

“We know that the ball is going to be in the air," Robinson said. "When the ball is in the air, go up and be that guy. Be that playmaker. Not, when the ball is in the air be panicking.

Hoke, the defensive backs said, has brought a certainly level of authoritarianism to the defense.  He has brought an energy, and demands accountability. 

"You really can’t hide," Springs said. "He will call you out. I've been a victim. He's kind of a bully, but not really."

Finally, in order to improve the secondary simply must perform well. 

Neal said he sees a much stronger unit this fall. A group that he said is virtually three deep across the board. 

“I think this is the most competition we’ve had because we have a lot of depth,” Robinson said.

Neal said five, maybe six safeties could play, along with five cornerbacks. That's counting Robinson doubling as a potential backup corner, something he played last season. 

Having players play multiple positions, something Neal always tries to do, enhances the versatility of the secondary. 

“That creates depth,” Neal said. “I think that’s gonna make us better and more consistent. The ability to play harder.”

A lack of depth last season caused Oregon to move Nelson, a wide receiver, to safety, and it forced starters to play without much rest opposite an Oregon no-huddle offense that doesn't eat clock. 

“That caught up to us in a couple of games, especially our last two games," Neal said. "We got tired.”

Right now, Robinson and redshirt junior Juwaan Williams are the starting safeties with Daniels and Khalil Oliver as the backups. Springs and Umadi are starting at cornerback with Seisay as the third corner. He is also playing some nickel and dime back, as are others. 

All are needed, according to Neal, in order for Oregon to have success against spread teams such as Washington State and California.

“We have a chance to line up with four cover guys on their four receivers, which is something you have to have to try and slow those people down,” Neal said. 

Seisay said Neal took some unnecessary heat for the play of his group, and that the players must keep up their end of the bargain and seize the challenge before them. 

“It’s on us, as well,” Seisay said. “We’re just trying to show the country that coach Neal is a great DB coach, and we listen to him and we’re going to improve.”

Top 10 Oregon football traditions

Top 10 Oregon football traditions

Oregon's season opener in Autzen Stadium is drawing near. In the spirit of getting back into the world of college football, let's take a look at why Autzen Stadium is special. 

Traditional may not be the word that comes to mind when thinking about Duck football. However, sometimes being nontraditional and unpredictable leads to some pretty fun traditions. 

1. It Never Rains at Autzen Stadium 

You have to live in Oregon to really understand the irony behind this iconic statement; and only true fans truly believe it. Before the start of every home game, PA Announcer, Don Essig, leads the entire Autzen crowd in letting the visitors know that “It never rains in Autzen Stadium”. 

2. “The Pick”

In 1994, Kenny Wheaton made what remains the most iconic play in Oregon Football history, when he intercepted a pass and ran 97 yards for a touchdown. Before each home game, this play is replayed on DuckVision, causing the crowd to erupt. 

3. Flashy Uniforms

What do you do when you want to convince the top recruit in the country to snub USC and move to Oregon? Give them awesome gear of course. While most universities have 2-3 main uniforms colors, the Ducks have 5-10 and perhaps more.

4. Win the Day

This slogan was initiated by former Head Coach, Chip Kelly in 2010 to instill a “one game at a time” mentality.

5. Motorcycle Man

Some stadiums light fireworks, while others blare loud rap music to announce the team’s arrival to the field. At Autzen, they rev up a motorcycle driven by a guy wearing a football helmet, along with the Duck, and lead the team onto the field. It’s loud, it’s unique. It’s tradition.

6. Noise Level

Although Autzen’s seating capacity is nowhere near that of the Big House in Michigan, you’d never know it if your eyes were closed. Most speculate that because of its shape and construction, Autzen’s noise level can reach crazy high decibels. 

7. Duck Push-Ups

Not only does Oregon have the coolest mascot, but it also has the strongest. In what has become a tradition, the Duck translates points into push-ups after the Ducks score. 

8. Mascot Man

No Duck Tradition article would be complete without mentioning the “mascot guy” in the north-east part of the stadium. He must search for days, but he somehow manages to find stuffed versions of every rival mascot, which he ties to a long stick with a noose. After each score, usually in unison with the Duck push-ups, he smashes the mascot to the ground one time for each point, as the crowd chats, 1-2-3-4….

Click here to continue reading 10 Favorite Oregon Football Traditions

Videos (GIFs) from inside Oregon practice

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CSN Northwest Photo (2013)

Videos (GIFs) from inside Oregon practice

Check out the videos released in GIF form by Rob Moseley from inside Oregon Football practice from this week:

 

 

 

Also, from DuckFootball's instagram:

The offense won the day, and a white flag now flies over the practice fields. #GoDucks

A photo posted by Rob Moseley (@duck_football) on

Veteran Jeff Lockie helps coach up freshman Justin Herbert on what Herbert saw in a rep during team drills. #GoDucks

A photo posted by Rob Moseley (@duck_football) on

Defensive coordinator Brady Hoke huddles up with the first unit after a drill. #GoDucks

A photo posted by Rob Moseley (@duck_football) on

Veteran Jimmie Swain coaching up newcomer and fellow SAM linebacker La'Mar Winston. #GoDucks

A photo posted by Rob Moseley (@duck_football) on

Ashton Eaton takes Olympic Decathlon lead

Ashton Eaton takes Olympic Decathlon lead

RIO DE JANEIRO – Ashton Eaton did something on Wednesday that he had not done since his junior year at Oregon in 2009. He trailed after the first event of the decathlon.

Eaton charged back over the course of the final four events of day one to take a 121 point lead heading into Thursday’s final day of the Olympic decathlon. Perhaps just as impressive as he looks to become the first American to repeat in the decathlon in more than half a century is that Eaton is on pace for an Olympic record.

Eaton scored 4,621 points through five events. Kai Kazmirek of Germany was second with 4,500 points, followed by Damian Warner of Canada (4,489), Kevin Mayer of France (4,435) and American Jeremy Taiwo (4,419).

The Olympic record of 8,893 points was set by Roman Sebrle of the Czech Republic in 2004. The last American to win back-to-back decathlon titles was Bob Mathias in 1948 and 1952.

The start of the decathlon was anything but typical for the speedy Eaton.

He ran 10.46 to finish second in the 100 meters behind Warner who had a swift 10.30. That left Eaton in the rare position of being 48 points behind after an event that is one of Eaton’s strongest.

Fortunately, the rest of the day went well for Oregon’s five-time NCAA champion.

He reached 26-0.75 on his second attempt in the long jump to score 1,045 points and take the overall lead.

Eaton followed that with a solid effort in the shot put, 48-4, to maintain his slim lead.

He then had a season best clearance in the high jump of 6-7, just missing on his third attempt at 6-8.25.

Eaton then closed out day one in style by winning the 400 meters in 46.07 that was good for 1,005 points, pushing his lead to the widest margin of the competition.

Another competitor made history for Oregon on Wednesday. Sophomore Deajah Stevens finished seventh in the final of the women’s 200 meters in 22.65. She became the Duck woman to make an Olympic sprint final as an undergrad.

Neither Duck alum was able to advance to the final in the men’s javelin. 

Cyrus Hostetler had a best throw of 261-8, which was 20th overall. Sam Crouser, competing in the Olympics for the first time, was 34th with a best mark of 242-0.

The track and field portion of the 2016 Summer Olympics continues with a school-record 17 current and former Ducks in Rio (11 on Team USA, three for Canada, and one each for Australia, Greece and Guatemala). This is the 20th straight Olympiad in which the University of Oregon has been represented, a streak that dates to the 1932 Games in Los Angeles.

In addition to the 17 current and former Ducks competing in Rio, the head coach of the U.S. Men’s Track and Field team is UO associate athletic director Vin Lananna.

GoDucks.com will provide a daily Olympics version of “What to Watch,” as well as a recap of Ducks in competition through the remainder of the Games.

What to Watch – Thursday, August 18

Ashton Eaton looks to become the first American to win back-to-back Olympic decathlon titles in more than 60 years as the 10-event competition wraps up on Thursday. Meanwhile, Matthew Centrowitz hopes to make his second straight Olympic 1,500 meter final, and a trio of Ducks could help the U.S. make the final of the 4x100 meter relay.

Eaton’s quest for an historic gold medal in the decathlon continues Thursday. Eaton, a five-time NCAA champion for Oregon, is the world record-holder in the decathlon, having scored 9,045 points at the 2015 IAAF World Championships.

Not only could he become the first repeat American decathlon champion in a half a century, he could also threaten the Olympic record of 8,893 points set by Roman Sebrle of the Czech Republic in 2004. The last American to win back-to-back decathlon titles was Bob Mathias in 1948 and 1952.

Eaton was the 2012 Olympic champion in London and has also won the last two IAAF World championships (2013, 2015).

The women’s 4x100 meters heats get underway Thursday with the United States among a half-dozen medal contenders along with Jamaica, Great Britain, China, France and Canada. Three runners with Oregon connections are in the relay pool. Freshman Ariana Washington was the 2016 NCAA champion at both 100 and 200 meters. Alum English Gardner placed seventh in the Olympic 100 meters earlier this week, while Jenna Prandini made the semifinals of the 200 meters.

Former Duck Matthew Centrowitz continues his bid to medal in the 1,500 meters. Centrowitz was fourth in the 1,500 at the 2012 London Olympics and won the IAAF World indoor title at 1,500 meters earlier this year in Portland, Ore.

Among the faster runners in his heat (heat two) are Elijah Manangoi of Kenya, Ryan Gregson of Australia and Ayanleh Souleiman of Djibouti.

The favorite in the 1,500, Kenya’s Asbel Kiprop, runs in heat one. Kiprop won gold at the 2008 Beijing Games, before a shocking 12th place finish in London. Kiprop has also won the last three IAAF World outdoor 1,500 meter titles.

Schedule – Thursday, August 18

All times Pacific

5:30 a.m. Ashton Eaton (USA) Decathlon 110 Meter Hurdles

6:25 a.m. Ashton Eaton (USA) Decathlon Discus

7:20 a.m. English Gardner/Jenna Prandini/Ariana Washington (USA) Women’s 4x100 Meter Relay - Heats

9:25 a.m. Ashton Eaton (USA) Decathlon Pole Vault

2:35 p.m. Ashton Eaton (USA) Decathlon Javelin

4:45 p.m. Matthew Centrowitz (USA) Men’s 1,500 Meters – Semifinals

5:45 p.m. Ashton Eaton (USA) Decathlon 1,500 Meters