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Oregon coaches took field trip to Alabama, Georgia

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The 2019 season is one that will see the bar raised for the Oregon Ducks. The second season under head coach Mario Cristobal could see the Ducks challenge for the Pac-12 title if things go according to plan in Eugene. With spring football in season, Cristobal took his entire coaching staff on a trip to see how some of the best coaching staffs in the SEC operate.

As reported by The Oregonian, Cristobal and the Oregon coaching staff paid a visit to Alabama and Georgia to meet up with the coaches of the Crimson Tide and Bulldogs. Cristobal is a former Alabama assistant under Nick Saban and worked under Kirby Smart, who is now the head coach at Georgia. It pays to have some good connections for Cristobal, it would seem.

A trip for a coaching staff like this is not at all uncommon in college football. But it is notable that Cristobal returned to the SEC to have his coaching staff take some notes from Saban’s and Smart’s. Alabama and Georgia are defending division champions in the SEC and met in the SEC Championship Game last season, a year after their national championship showdown in the College Football Playoff of the 2017 season. Of course, Alabama has been on the national championship level for a number of years now and Smart is looking to have Georgia in that same company on a regular basis.

It has been a few years since Oregon was considered a national title contender (their appearance in the inaugural College Football Playoff National Championship Game is already fading in the memory bank), but things are starting to look as though they are turning around for the Ducks. And if Cristobal can run his coaching staff the way Saban has over the years, then Oregon will certainly be in good hands in the years to come.

Oregon adds another ugly win to the Pac-12 win column with Redbox Bowl victory over Michigan State

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On a day that saw Stanford win an absolutely ugly game to get the Pac-12 a second bowl victory, Oregon added one more. The Ducks (9-4) held on to win a scrappy and ugly Redbox Bowl against Michigan State (7-6) by scoring just one touchdown in a 7-6 win.

Oregon did not score until early in the fourth quarter with a Justin Herbert 28-yard pass to Dillon Mitchell. Michigan State had a 6-0 lead on the strength of a pair of field goals, both of which came in the third quarter following a scoreless first half.

Oregon nearly cost themselves a win in the fourth quarter with a bizarre fake punt, in which the punter never even got off a pass on the fourth down call aimed to catch Michigan State off guard. It failed miserably.

Although Oregon’s gamble did not pay off, it ended up not hurting them either. Michigan State put themselves in position for a potential go-ahead field goal on the ensuing possession, but a botched handle of the snap forced Lewerke to try picking the ball up and getting the ball to any open receiver on a whim, and Oregon stayed in good coverage to prevent any miracle play from developing.

Oregon’s offense could not slam the door shut on the game, however, which led to one last offensive opportunity for the Spartans. But the defense for the Ducks held strong one final time as Brian Lewerke had a fourth-down pass fall incomplete for a turnover on downs.

Lewerke completed 21 of 39 passes for 174 yards and an interception. Herbert completed 19 of 33 passes for 166 yards and the game’s only touchdown. Oregon never got going on the ground but was able to keep the Spartans from posing much of a threat. LJ Scott rushed for a game-high 84 yards on 24 rushing attempts for the Spartans, who combined for 157 rushing yards. Michiagn State out-gained Oregon 331-203 but was unable to win the game where it counts the most.

This is the first bowl victory for Cristobal since the 2010 season as head coach of FIU, when his Panthers won the Little Caesars Bowl. With a record of 9-4, this is now Cristobal’s most successful season in terms of win total, topping the eight wins he previously had at FIU in 2011. His counterpart, Mark Dantonio, suffered his first defeat in a non-College Football Playoff bowl game since the 2010 season. Michigan State had won five straight bowl games in years they played a non-playoff bowl game. The Spartans lost in the Cotton Bowl to Alabama in the College Football Playoff in 2015 and the Spartans did not meet bowl eligibility requirement in 2016.

Next year should be pretty interesting for Oregon. The Ducks, with Herbert coming back and a large number of starters projected to return on top of a solid recruiting class just signed, will likely be one of the top contenders in the Pac-12 next fall. A race between Oregon and Washington could be fun, but the Ducks will start the 2019 season in Arlington, Texas against Auburn, the team Washington’s 2018 started out against. Will Oregon be able to get a win against an SEC team on a neutral field to start the year, unlike Washington? Expect some good preseason hype for Oregon to build in the offseason and a win over Auburn could really raise the bar for the Ducks early on next season.

Son of Outkast star Big Boi commits to Oregon

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It seems things are beginning to turn around for Oregon under head coach Mario Cristobal. A week after knocking off rival Washington in a key Pac-12 matchup and on the eve of another big division game on the road against Washington State, the Ducks reeled in the verbal commitment of Georgia running back Cross Patton for the Class of 2019. Patton is the son of Outkast’s Big Boi.

Patton announced his decision in front of his teammates on Friday, with his proud father capturing the moment on Instagram.

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#ScoDucks 🦆 #18 @crosspatton #PattonClan

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Although Patton is not rated by the recruiting services, mostly due to his size (5′ 6″, 170 lb according to Rivals), there is value to having a celebrity dad on board with the program that Oregon could take advantage of, especially if Patton develops into a weapon for the Ducks moving forward either on offense or special teams. And for a program looking to continue to move back to the top of the Pac-12 with the kind of swag the Ducks had at the height of the Chip Kelly era, the potential appears to be there.

Patton chose Oregon over a handful of offers to form FCS program including Columbia and Butler. Rivals also listed Georgia Tech as a school Patton was interested in. Florida State, with former Oregon head coach Willie Taggart, also appeared to be making a sales pitch for Patton. Big Boi was invited to perform at Florida State’s home game against Wake Forest today.

After arrest, Oregon moves on from freshman WR Jalen Hall

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Jalen Hall, a freshman expected to play wide receiver for the Oregon Ducks, will no longer be a part of the program. Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal confirmed to reporters on Wednesday the Ducks have moved on from Hall, who has not been around the team much since his early enrollment last spring. Not so coincidentally, Hall was arrested on suspicion of robbery and other offenses this week.

“Well he hasn’t been on the roster for a pretty long time now,” Cristobal told reporters on Wednesday, according to a report from NBC Sports Northwest. “We’re moving on and certainly it is what it is.”

Hall enrolled early at Oregon to be able to participate in Oregon’s spring football practices, but he left the team to attend to a personal matter after just one practice. he was expected to return to the program at some point.

Hall and another man were arrested and charged by Los Angeles police with suspicion of robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, kidnapping, and burglary, according to a report from the Whittier Daily News. The two were arrested after being pulled over for reckless driving and the victim confirming the possessions located in the vehicle were among the stolen items.

Oregon names Mario Cristobal head coach

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As expected earlier in the day, Oregon has officially named Mario Cristobal as its next head football coach. The announcement making the move official came Friday afternoon with a released statement.

“Mario’s leadership skills, work ethic, and experience makes him a perfect fit to lead the Oregon football program,” Oregon director of athletics Rob Mullens said in a released statement. “He has a passion for Oregon and a vision for our future success, and has made a significant impact on our student-athletes during his time here. We look forward to a great future on the horizon for Ducks under Mario’s leadership.

Cristobal joined the Oregon football program as an offensive assistant under Willie Taggart, who of course has returned to the state of Florida to coach Florida State. Oregon players had been dropping hints online all week about their enthusiasm to be playing for Cristobal, and it is likely they are happy to have Cristobal staying around for the future.

This will be Cristobal’s first head coaching job since 2012, when he was fired by FIU, for some reason. We’re still trying to figure that one out. But life goes on. Cristobal spent some time as an assistant at Alabama under Nick Saban and then one year at Oregon.