Marcus Mariota

CFT Preseason Top 25: No. 2 Oregon

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2013 record: 11-2 overall, 7-2 in Pac-12 Conference (2nd in South division)
2013 postseason: Alamo Bowl vs. Texas (30-7 win)
2013 final AP/coaches’ ranking: No. 9/No. 9
Head coach: Mark Helfrich (11-2 overall; 11-2 in one year at Oregon)
Offensive coordinator: Scott Frost (5th year at Oregon)
2013 offensive rankings: 9th rushing offense (273.5 ypg); 21st passing offense (291.5 ypg); 2nd total offense (565 ypg); 4th scoring offense (45.5 ppg)
Returning offensive starters: eight
Defensive coordinator: Don Pellum (22nd year at Oregon)
2013 defensive rankings: 66th rushing defense (165.5 ypg); 21st passing defense (204.5 ypg);  37th total defense (370.1 ypg); 13th scoring defense (20.5 ppg)
Returning defensive starters: five
Location: Eugene, Oregon
Stadium: Autzen Stadium (58,000; FieldTurf)
Last conference title: 2011

THE GOOD
The most underrated aspect of Oregon’s football program is the commitment found within its coaching staff. It’s not to say there hasn’t been turnover in the program. Head coach Chip Kelly left the Ducks prior to last season. Defensive coordinator Nick Allioti retired during the offseason after spending 24 seasons with the program. Instead of rushing out to hire the hottest coach available on the market, the program simply promotes from within. Mark Helfrich is now entering his second season as the team’s head coach after serving as the Ducks’ offensive coordinator the previous four seasons. The team’s new defensive coordinator, Don Pellum, spent 22 years as a full-time assistant. During the last 16 years, Pellum was tasked with coaching the linebackers. While each promotion brings slight tweaks to the system, the influences of Rich Brooks and Mike Bellotti during their tenures as head coach remains a part of the program. The Ducks have continued to build from the day Brooks was hired as their head coach in 1977  to today. As a result of the continuity built within program, Oregon has developed into one of the premier programs in the nation. A program that has the talent to win a national championship this season.

THE BAD
The tempo at which the Ducks operate on offense is always a double-edged sword. While the offense can be impossible to stop at times, the defense can also be gashed by opponents. When the Ducks went to the BCS National Championship Game in Jan. 2011, they surrendered 346 yards per game and the offensive’s time of possession was 27:54 minutes per game. During each of the past three seasons, the Ducks have given up more yards per game and operated at a faster pace. It’s not a good combination. The Ducks have had talent on the defensive side of the football during those years, but they simply didn’t play to the same level that finally led them to the title game. This season isn’t any different. Senior cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu is arguably the best cornerback in college football. Defensive lineman Arik Armstead is a considered an early-round prospect for the 2015 NFL draft. Defensive end Tony Washington returns after leading the team with seven sacks last season. The team’s leading tackler, Derrick Malone, is also back in the middle of the defense. There is talent at all three levels of the Ducks defense. Oregon is more than just a flashy offense. The team’s defense has to play at a high level for the Ducks to be a part of the first College Football Playoff.

THE UNKNOWN
Kelly’s approach to offensive line play was there wasn’t much difference between playing guard and tackle in his system. The system hasn’t changed under Helfrich, but the importance of the tackle position is far more pertinent this season. The team’s senior left tackle, Tyler Johnstone, re-tore his ACL at the start of fall camp. It caused Helfrich to reshuffle his offensive line. Junior Andre Yruretagoyena will replace Johnstone on the blindside. There are two issues any time there are major changes along the offensive line. The first is building continuity within the unit to operate at a high level. Due to the team’s heavy zone-blocking scheme and its tempo on offense, this can be especially difficult to establish. The Ducks also lost the leadership and experience Johnstone brought to the lineup after starting 26 straight games. Furthermore, Yruretagoyena will be protecting the blindside of the one of the nations’ top quarterbacks, Marcus Mariota. The No. 1 goal for the Oregon’s offensive line this season is keep Mariota healthy. And that proposition may be a little more difficult with the veteran at left tackle.

MAKE-OR-BREAK GAME: vs. Stanford
There is no other choice here. The Cardinal dashed the Ducks’ national championship aspirations the past two seasons. The two games were evenly matched with Stanford’s win margin at only nine points. But Stanford is as much a mental obstacle for Oregon as it is a physical one. Very few teams have slowed Oregon’s explosive offense in recent years. Yet, Stanford has seemed to find the secret recipe with their physical 3-4 defense. The Ducks simply haven’t been able to gash the Cardinal for big plays. And most of that has to do with a defensive front that consistently plays in the backfield. The Ducks averaged as least 537 yards per game the last two seasons. Stanford has held Oregon at least 120 yards below its average in each contest. Oregon simply hasn’t been able to get on track against Stanford. The Ducks can’t fail against Stanford again this year, or their season will be a major disappointment.

HEISMAN HOPEFUL: QB Marcus Mariota
Let’s compare Mariota’s resume last season to Jameis Winston‘s, shall we? Mariota threw for 3,665 yards, 31 touchdowns and only four interceptions. Mariota also ran for 715 yards and nine touchdowns. Winston, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, threw for 4,057 yards, 40 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He added 219 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. While Winston was the clear favorite to win the Heisman last season, Mariota wasn’t far behind the redshirt freshman. When last year’s play is considered and  two factors are added into the equation, Mariota could be the favorite to win the trophy this season. There are two reasons why Mariota’s numbers weren’t quite as spectacular as Winston’s in 2013. The Oregon quarterback suffered a slight knee injury during the second half of the season which limited his play, and he played one less game than Winston. A fully healthy Mariota is arguably the best NFL prospect in the entire country. While professional potential doesn’t translate to college football awards, it does exclude Mariota from any excuses if he doesn’t make a national title run with the Ducks this season and capture the school’s first Heisman Trophy.

(Click HERE for the CFT 2014 Preseason Preview Repository)

Trey Holtz, son of Skip and grandson of Lou, starts coaching career at Ohio State

BERKELEY, CA - SEPTEMBER 17:  Trent Domingue #17 of the Texas Longhorns kicks a 35-yard field goal against the California Golden Bears in the fourth quarter on September 17, 2016 at California Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, California.  Cal won 50-43.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
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The Holtz family coaching tree just added another branch.

Louis Leo Holtz III, better known as Trey, has joined the Ohio State staff, according to a post on his Instagram account. Holtz is the son of Louisiana Tech head coach Skip Holtz and the grandson of College Football Hall of Fame coach Lou Holtz.

“Super excited to start my coaching career in Columbus!!,” Holtz wrote, captioning a photo of him making the “O” inside Ohio Stadium.

Super excited to start my coaching career in Columbus!! #GoBucks

A photo posted by Trey Holtz (@treyholtz) on

Ohio State has not officially announced Holtz’s hiring, but it’s a safe bet Holtz will join Urban Meyer‘s staff as a graduate assistant or quality control assistant.

Holtz played his college career at Texas as a walk-on quarterback out of powerhouse Plant High School in Tampa. He did not throw a pass, but played in 23 games as a junior and senior as the holder on field goals and extra points.

Louisville RB L.J. Scott reportedly transfers to Eastern Kentucky

LOUISVILLE, KY - OCTOBER 30:  L.J. Scott #27 of the Louisville Cardinals celebrates after a first down in the second quarter against the Florida State Seminoles during their game at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on October 30, 2014 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Louisville running back L.J. Scott has transferred to Eastern Kentucky, according to a report Sunday from Kennedy Hardman of WTVQ in Lexington, Ky.

The school has not announced Scott’s arrival, but Hardman reports Scott is already enrolled in classes at EKU.

Scott was a reserve runner in his first two seasons at Louisville and fell out of favor in Bobby Petrino‘s offense in 2016. He carried 29 times for 201 yards and two touchdowns as a freshman in 2014 and rushed 39 times for 180 yards and four scores in 2015. His numbers dipped dramatically in 2016, though, totaling only three rushes for 15 yards. Scott battled a hamstring injury during the season but saw his usage dip even before the ailment popped up.

Scott will have one year to compete for the Colonels.

Not to be confused with the Michigan State running back of the same name, Scott was a consensus 3-star recruit when he signed with the Cardinals out of Harding, Ohio, in 2014.

Baylor and Houston lighting up the skies for recruiting purposes

Photo credit: Matt Rhule
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New Baylor head coach Matt Rhule is absolutely loving being in charge of a football program that has its own stadium to call home. The look on Rhule’s face as he walked on to Baylor’s football turf and soaked it all in after years as the head coach of Temple and having to share space in an NFL venue said it all. It did not take long for Rhule and his staff in Waco to find a way to show off the stadium and the atmosphere either, as Baylor has been lighting the stadium Baylor green for recruiting visits since Rhule’s arrival.

It has become apparent that “Baylor Lit” is Rhule’s go-to catchphrase any time he receives positive recruiting news for the program, like a player committing to the university. Coaches are not allowed to directly and publicly comment on recruits before they are enrolled, so many coaches have taken to Twitter with a brief catchphrase to let their followers know something good just happened. Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin, for example, would say “Yessir!” on his Twitter account.

Because ideas are stolen all the time around college football, Houston appears to have been inspired by Baylor and is lighting their stadium red for similar purposes.

And because College Football Twitter will never let such a thing slide, the jokes have been running wild between fans of the schools.

There are some other schools I’d be curious to see duplicate this light show exhibition. Maybe Middle Tennessee could light the sky blue? Notre Dame could provide a golden shine to the sky. Syracuse plays in a dome, unfortunately, but an orange-lit sky would be cool to see. And of course, Hawaii could go with a full spectrum of the colors of the rainbow.

What I am trying to say is, lighting the sky in your team’s colors is cool and more schools should give it a try.

Helmet sticker to Reddit.

Newly hired David Reaves placed on administrative leave by Oregon following DUI arrest

EUGENE, OR - OCTOBER 6: Close-up of the Oregon Ducks 'Liquid Metal' helmet during the the game between the Oregon Ducks and the Washington Huskies on October 6, 2012 at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon. Oregon won the game 52-21. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
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Oregon co-offensive coordinator David Reaves was arrested early Sunday morning and charged with DUII, reckless driving and reckless endangerment. In response to the arrest, Oregon has placed Reaves on administrative leave and is already moving to terminate his contract.

According to a report from The Oregonian, Reaves was pulled over at 2:12 a.m. in Eugene. Suspected of being impaired while operating the vehicle, and following an on-scene investigation, Reaves was charged and booked into a county jail at 5:18 a.m. He was released from jail later Sunday morning. There was an adult passenger in the car.

“University of Oregon assistant football coach David Reaves was arrested last night and charged with Driving Under the Influence by members of the Eugene Police Department,” a statement from Oregon director of athletics Rob Mullens said. “Reaves has been placed on administrative leave and the process to terminate his employment with cause has commenced. The University has high standards for the conduct of employees and is addressing this matter with the utmost of seriousness.”

Reaves was hired specifically to coach tight ends and take on the role of passing game coordinator while he and Mario Cristobal shared the role of offensive coordinator.

Reaves was hired by Oregon just five days ago to join the coaching staff assembled by new head coach Willie Taggart. For Taggart, this is just the latest in a bizarre sequence of events since being hired away by USF to take on the head coaching responsibility at Oregon. Taggart’s strength coach Irele Oderinde has already been suspended by the university after multiple Oregon football players were hospitalized following offseason workouts. All players that were receiving treatment have since been released from the hospital.