Do Something: 1 on 1 with Willie Taggart airs Wednesday on CSN

Do Something: 1 on 1 with Willie Taggart airs Wednesday on CSN

Earlier this month, CSN caught up with new Oregon coach Willie Taggart in his office at the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex. 

We spent 80 minutes with Taggart discussing a myriad of topics. A lot has happened with the football program since Taggart took over last December. The result of our conversation is a one-hour special called "Do Something: 1 on 1 with Willie Taggart."

It will air at 7 p.m., Wednesday on CSN.

Subjects discussed include:

  • Bringing down the hammer and letting the team know that discipline will be restored. 
  • Finding and developing leaders.
  • Fixing the lack of harmony among the players. 
  • The formation of the new coaching staff. 
  • The challenges of recruiting to Eugene and recruiting philosophies.
  • Rebounding from the controversy surrounding the hospitalization of three players following a workout. 
  • The arrest of former co-offensive coordinator David Reaves for DUI, and his departure.
  • The challenges of fixing the defense that coordinator Jim Leavitt will tackle.  
  • Is there enough talent to win in 2016 or is the cupboard bare? 
  • Could someone really challenge Justin Herbert for the starting quarterback position?

And much more... 

Be sure to tune in for the most candid and in-depth interview Taggart has given to date.  

There are questions about UO strength coach certification -- no answers from Ducks

There are questions about UO strength coach certification -- no answers from Ducks

CBS Sports has an interesting investigative piece about certification of football strength and conditioning coaches and Oregon's football program is at the center of it.

The story alleges that Oregon football's strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde was certified as a strength coach by the track and field coaches association, which is, in their estimation, a low standard of certification for football strength coaches. The story goes into detail about the difference in certification between what Oderinde has and a higher standard that is recommended for someone in his position:

For a $245 fee, the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) offers a 21-hour strength training course to become a certified NCAA strength coach in any sport. By comparison, the widely-used Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association (CSCCA) requires 30 times as much training -- a 640-hour certification process.

It's a very important story and what caught my eye was this line:

Oregon did not grant CBS Sports requests to interview Taggart, Oderinde, the three players who were hospitalized or athletic director Rob Mullens.

That just doesn't work for me. Last time I checked the University of Oregon was a public institution. People who work there are entitled to State of Oregon benefits, including PERS. That seems to make them public employees, and as such I think they need to provide transparency like any other arm of our government. But the UO athletic department lately seems to act as if it's bigger than the school -- or the state of Oregon.

Interviews with anyone connected to the athletic department are highly regulated and difficult to obtain. The CBS Sports story was a serious one, an investigative piece that talked about players dying while playing collegiate sports and a lack of true regulation by the people hired to protect them. It went so far as to label football's off-season as the "killing season" because that's when "the overwhelming majority of deaths" occur.

Are you telling me that even the school's athletic director couldn't make himself available for an interview regarding this hot topic?

Football coach Willie Taggart is obviously tired of taking about the incident involving his strength coach and the three players who landed in a hospital -- he engaged in a very public spat with The Oregonian's Andrew Greif about his reporting of the story. But Taggart didn't yet seem to realize he's the virtual COO of a very public company and is going to constantly be held accountable for that company. Mullens, of course, is in an even more important role, the CEO, and is supposed to be the spokesman for the entire athletic department.

But very seldom do you ever hear anything from him other than statements contained in news releases. And I seem to recall a disturbing trend of those news releases coming out at times when reaching sources was next to impossible.

Cover-ups are almost always worse than the incident itself. Shunning interviews or refusing to comment often means a suspicion of guilt -- and always leads to the same question:

"What are you hiding?"

 

 

Oregon's defense to receive some extra coaching TLC

Oregon's defense to receive some extra coaching TLC

The Oregon defense, which ranked 128th in the nation last season, will receive some extra tender love and care under new coach Willie Taggart.

During a lengthy one-on-one interview this week that will air later this month on CSN, Taggart said that special teams coordinator Raymond Woodie has recently been handed the extra assignment of also coaching outside linebackers. That will leave defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt to coach only the inside linebackers instead of the entire linebacker crew. 

Oregon already has two defensive backs coaches with Keith Heyward handling safeties and Charles Clark directing the cornerbacks. 

Assistant head coach Joe Salave'a will coach the defensive line. 

The reason for the use of multiple coaches at two different position groups on defense is simple. Taggart said the defensive side of the ball needs more work in the areas of development and communication, a big issue for Oregon the past two seasons when the defense ranked among the worst in the nation. 

The decision to have two defensive backs coaches, something Leavitt used as the defensive coordinator in Colorado before Oregon hired him away during the offseason, is to increase communication within a group that is spread out all over the field. Plus, the group must communicate coverages with the linebackers. 

"We're trying to create a synergy throughout the defense," Taggart said.

Teaching a new defense to what was a very young group last year with just one senior starter will be challenging. Having two defensive back coaches working to make sure there is at least proper communication will help accelerate the growth process, Taggart hopes. 

"It's a lot easier if guys have two coaches back there," Taggart said. 

The same could happen with the linebackers. Oregon will have seven linebackers that are going to be either freshmen, redshirt freshmen or sophomores. Getting them up to speed as fast as possible could make all the difference next season, but especially by 2018 when four out of that group will likely make up the starting lineup. 

While the defense will have five full-time coaches handling position groups, the offense will have four. Co-offensive coordinator Mario Cristobal will take on the running game and the offensive line. Co-offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo will handle the passing game, quarterbacks and tight ends with the help of a graduate assistant. Michael Johnson will coach wide receivers and Donte Pimpleton will handle the running backs. 

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. 

How Oregon's recruits fit in: LBs - Tough competition ahead

How Oregon's recruits fit in: LBs - Tough competition ahead

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 line, Defensive backs.

Today: Linebackers.

New Ducks: Inside linebackers Sampson Niu (6-1, 217, Madison, H.S., San Diego, Calif.) and Isaac Slade-Matautia (6-1, 206, St. Louis High School, Honolulu, Hawaii), and athlete Cyrus Habibi-Likio (6-1, 211, St. Francis H.S., Mountain View, Calif.). 

Projected starters (3-4 defense): Outside linebacker Troy Dye, Soph., (6-4, 225), inside linebacker A.J. Hotchkins Sr., (5-11, 230), inside linebacker Jimmie Swain, Sr., (6-2, 235) and outside linebacker La'Mar Winston Jr., Soph., (6-3, 220).

Key backups: Inside linebackers - Danny Mattingly, RSr., (6-5, 245) and Keith Simms, Soph., (6-3, 235). Outside linebackers - Eric Briscoe, RFr., (6-3, 225), Justin Hollins, RJr., (6-6, 235) and Kaulana Apelu, Jr., (5-11, 200).

The situation: Oregon has plenty of young talent to work with here. Dye is a star. Simms and Winston were 4-star recruits in 2016. Hollins could be an interesting option if he moves to linebacker from defensive end. 

Only Dye is untouchable in the starting lineup with Swain and Hotchkins as the front-runners to start inside. However, they will have to fend off Simms and two very talented inside linebackers, four star recruits Niu and Slade-Matautia. 

Niu, ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 12 inside linebacker in the nation, has a chance to play right away assuming he adds some weight. Playing inside at 217 pounds likely won't cut it.  Slade-Matautia was rated No. 11 in the nation. He is listed at 206 pounds and must add bulk. 

If they live up to their billing, Niu and Slade-Matautia could have an impact in 2017. But that's a big if. 

There's reason to believe that the young outside linebackers, Winston and Briscoe, will take the next step and compete for playing time. They will be joined in that race by Habibi-Likio should he start off his career at linebacker. He could play safety, or even running back.  

The verdict: This competition should be wild. Oregon has seven linebackers that are freshmen or sophomores. Something has to give. On the inside, Swain came on strong late last year but Hotchkins was wildly inconsistent. Expect at least one of the two freshmen inside linebackers to play in 2017. Habibi-Likio might have a tougher battle in front of him on the outside because of the potential of Briscoe and Winston. But only Dye has established himself there. In other words, who truly knows what's going to happen? This could be the Ducks' most interesting position group to watch. 

Next up: Defensive backs

Source: Oregon targets Michael Johnson to coach wide receivers

Source: Oregon targets Michael Johnson to coach wide receivers

The Oregon Ducks have targeted Michael Johnson to become the team's wide receivers coach, according to a source. 

The hire has not been officially made but talks are underway. 

Johnson, should the hire go through, would replace Jimmie Dougherty, who two weeks ago left UO to coach wide receivers at UCLA after being on the Ducks' staff for less than two months. 

Johnson had been set to join Michigan's staff but that fell through. His potential hire at Michigan created some controversy because he is the father of high school quarterback Michael Johnson Jr., who is rated as one of the top passers in the 2019 recruiting class.

Johnson spent the past three seasons coaching his son's high school team at The King's Academy in Sunnyvale, Calif.   His son has already received offers from Florida State, California, Arizona and others. 

The mini controversy surrounding Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh looking to hire Johnson revolved around the idea that doing so would lead to his son also ending up at Michigan. However, Johnson's credentials make him more than qualified to coach anywhere. Prior to coaching at King's Academy, Johnson coached for UCLA, the Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco 49ers, Atlanta Falcons, San Diego Chargers and at Oregon State. 

The hiring of Johnson would round out new coach Willie Taggart's staff after recent turmoil.

Oregon recently hired Marcus Arroyo as co-offensive coordinator to replace David Reaves, who followed Taggart to UO from South Florida. Reaves resigned two weeks ago after being arrested by Eugene Police for DUI in the early morning hours of Sunday, Jan. 22 during a heavy recruiting weekend.

In the car with Reaves that night was Dougherty, who was not cited or arrested. He continued to work for Oregon while Taggart began searching for a replacement for Reaves and the staff finalized their recruiting class. 

A week after the Feb. 1 signing day, Dougherty left Oregon to coach wide receivers at UCLA, creating a second opening. 

Former LSU receivers coach Dameyune Craig was a prime candidate to replace Dougherty but a deal could not be reached, according to sources. 

Johnson began his coaching career at Oregon State coaching wide receivers (1997-98) and then quarterbacks (1999) under Mike Riley. In 2000 he coached quarterbacks for Riley with the San Diego Chargers (2000-01) and stuck in the NFL. He coached with Atlanta (wide receivers in 2002 then quarterbacks, 2003-05), Baltimore (wide receivers, 2006-07), in San Francisco before Harbaugh arrived (quarterbacks, 2009-2010, offensive coordinator, 2010) then he went to UCLA in 2011 where he was the offensive coordinator. He began coaching high school football in 2014.  

How Oregon's recruits fit in: DL - Immediate help might be needed, or not

How Oregon's recruits fit in: DL - Immediate help might be needed, or not

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 backs, Wide receivers/tight ends, Offensive line, Linebackers, Defensive backs.

Today: Defensive line.

New Ducks: Austin Faoliu (6-3, 285, Mater Dei H.S., Santa Ana, Calif.), Rutger Reitmaier (6-3, 279, Lipscomb Academy, Nashville, Tenn.) and Jordan Scott (6-1, 350, Pinellas Park Senior H.S., Largo, Fla.). 

Projected starters: Defensive ends Henry Mondeaux, Sr., (6-5, 280) and Drayton Carlberg, RSo., (6-5, 290), and nose guard Rex Manu, Jr., (6-3, 300).

Key backups: Defensive ends - Jalen Jelks, RJr., (6-6, 260), Elijah George, RSr., (6-5, 290), Gus Cumberlander, RSo., (6-6, 260), Hunter Kampmoyer, RFr., (6-4, 245), and Bryson Young, So.,  (6-5, 245).  Nose guard - Gary Baker, RSo., (6-4, 305), 

The situation: Oregon's defensive line was used and abused in 2016 so shifting from the 4-3 to the 3-4 could be addition by subtraction for the Ducks. 

That said, there is some young talent onboard, such as Carlberg, Manu, Jelks and Baker, who should improve after being thrown into the fire last season. 

So where do the freshmen fit in?

One might assume that help is needed right away given that UO allowed 246.6 rushing yards per game last season. Not so fast. Out of the three recruits only Reitmaier comes with much hype. Rivals.com rated the four-star recruit as the No. 21 defensive tackle prospect in the country. Scott will need of some serious conditioning and training to shed some of his 350 pounds in order to make an impact at the Pac-12 level. Fauliu is not rated national but certainly has some size and talent. 

One never truly knows who will surprise in fall camp (see Troy Dye and Justin Herbert in 2016), and new coach Willie Taggart has made it clear that all freshmen will have a chance to earn instant playing time.  

“They are going to have every opportunity to go out and compete and try to take somebody’s job,” Taggart said. “I told our players that’s what we’re going to do, recruit guys to take their jobs and it’s on them to keep their jobs.”

The verdict: Oregon already has good defensive line recruits on the roster. They simply struggled playing as freshmen and sophomores. So why believe that new freshmen are going to revolutionize the defensive line? Development is always the key, so expect to see the now experienced Oregon defensive linemen improve while the freshmen, except for maybe Reitmaier, redshirt next season. 

Next up: Linebackers. 

How Oregon's recruits fit in: OL - New signees shouldn't be needed in 2017

How Oregon's recruits fit in: OL - New signees shouldn't be needed in 2017

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 backs and Wide receivers/tight ends, defensive line, Linebackers, Defensive backs

Today: Offensive line.

New Ducks: Alex Forsyth (6-5, 310, West Linn H.S., West Linn), Popo Aumavae (6-4, 315, St. Mary's H.S., Stockton, Fla.), Cody Shear (6-4, 285, Sheldon H.S., Eugene) and George Moore (6-7, 308, Deer Valley H.S./College of San Mateo, Antioch, Calif.). 

Projected 2017 starters: Left tackle Tyrell Crosby, Sr., (6-5, 310), left guard Shane Lemieux, RSo., (6-6, 310), center Jake Hanson, RSo., (6-5, 295), right guard Brady Aiello, RSo., (6-7, 290), right tackle Calvin Throckmorton (6-6, 300). 

Key backups: Guard Jake Pisarcik, RSr. (6-2, 300), center Zach Okun, RSo., (6-4, 315), guard/center Doug Brenner, RSr., (6-2, 300), tackle Evan Voeller, RSr., (6-5, 295)

The situation: Oregon lost senior guard Cameron Hunt but will return senior left tackle Tyrell Crosby, who missed 10 games last year with a foot injury. He will join four redshirt freshmen, who carried the line last season. Redshirt senior Jake Pisarcik rounds out the top six linemen on the depth chart.

Another 10 returning linemen will compete for spots on the two-deep depth chart. That leaves little room for three freshmen and a junior college transfer to fit in. 

The verdict: All three true freshmen should redshirt for the future. It's possible that Moore, an ideal offensive tackle, would play his way into being a backup.

Next up: Defensive line. 

Source: Oregon to hire Marcus Arroyo as co-offensive coordinator

Source: Oregon to hire Marcus Arroyo as co-offensive coordinator

Oregon is in the process of hiring Marcus Arroyo to coach quarterbacks and become the co-offensive coordinator, a source has confirmed.

FOX Sports' Bruce Feldman first tweeted the news earlier today. 

Arroyo will replace David Reaves, who resigned last Friday nearly two weeks after he was arrested by Eugene Police for DUI leading to Oregon beginning the process of terminating his two-year, $600,000 contract with cause.  Reaves, who also coached tight ends, previously worked with new Oregon coach Willie Taggart at South Florida before joining him in Eugene. 

Arroyo will be the Ducks' passing game coordinator and join forces with Mario Cristobal, Oregon's running game coordinator and offensive line coach. 

Arroyo, who played quarterback at San Jose State (1998-2002), spent the past two years coaching running backs at Oklahoma State.

Prior to that, he coached quarterbacks for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2014). His last stint as an offensive coordinator came in 2013 at Southern Mississippi where he also coached outside wide receivers. 

Arroyo was also the passing game coordinator and coached quarterbacks at California in 2012, and held the same positions at Wyoming from 2009 through 2010.

Oregon now has one staff position to fill. Former wide receivers coach Jimmie Dougherty, who was in the car with Reaves the night he was arrested, earlier this week left the Ducks to become the wide receivers coach at UCLA.

According to a source, the Ducks are looking at several candidates to replace Dougherty including former LSU wide receivers coach Dameyune Craig.