Oregon held its annual Media Day on Sunday, August 5.
1.)Cristobal is in command: If anything was clear at Oregon’s annual media day, it was that new head coach Mario Cristobal is in complete charge of the Ducks. His mere presence and voice at the podium showed just how comfortable he is in taking control of a program looking to return to the upper-echelon of college football.
Not only did Cristobal praise multiple players and coaches for the hard work done throughout the offseason, he walked the media through the proper to way make a block and diagnosed the mentality of “who”, “what”, “why” and “how” a penalty is committed.
Altogether, it was a very engaging experience as a member of the media and proved exactly why the players petitioned to have Cristobal as the man leading the Ducks — it’s his team now and he’s ready for the challenge.
2.)Culture Change is Underway: Last year under former head coach Willie Taggart, there were a number of issues that got the Ducks started off on the wrong foot. Taggart’s culture change was never fully received by the players and it showed based on the responses of players when left for Florida State.
Doing it his own way, Cristobal began his press conference by saying, “there’s a cultural change going on that involves a lot of energy and enthusiasm… it’s something that goes along with teaching and coaching.”
According to multiple players, Cristobal and his staff have implemented the change in culture that’s about developing players from the inside out.
“Cristobal really cares about us individually,” tight end Jacob Breeland said. “He wants us to be good men in our lives, do the right things, be the best husband and just do it all… it’s more than just football with him and that’s something we’ve been missing.”
3.)Physicality, Physicality, Physicality: The main theme of media day was physicality. From Cristobal to star quarterback Justin Herbert and all-American linebacker Troy Dye, Oregon is making itself into a much more physical team.
The Ducks are looking to shed the label of only being a “fast-tempo” team and instead, dominate the game from the trenches. According to center Jake Hanson, the Ducks want to play fast but also with a nastiness and tenacity that hasn’t been seen from previous teams. Defensively, safety Ugochukwu Amadi has been impressed with how much bigger and faster the Ducks appear than previous fall camps, noting that the commitment to the weight room has been the biggest difference.
4.)Freshmen will make a difference on Saturday’s: When No. 29 walked around the Autzen Club for media day, it appeared as if a senior was enjoying his last time at this event. The only problem was the player wasn’t a senior, he was freshman linebacker Adrian Jackson just taking in his first media day.
The hype surrounding the size, physicality and play of Jackson is true. Listed at 6-foot-2 and weighing 218 pounds, Jackson has the look of a man born in a weight room who never left. According to Dye, Jackson is the freshman who jumps out right away as someone who will play immediately.
“Adrian as you can tell looks like a phenomenal beast,” Dye said. “The dude is what he is… coming out of high school looking like that is crazy.”
But, Jackson isn’t the only freshman impressing coaches thus far. Safety Jevon Holland and current wide receiver Bryan Addison are two players who have shown out thus far, proving they belong on the field.
5.)Offensive linemen will be deep: According to Cristobal, the Ducks plan on using 8-9 offensive linemen throughout the year.
The combination of experience (all five projected starters have started previously) and influx of massive youth (multiple freshmen bigger than 6-foot-5, 330 pounds) has this unit looking like one of the fiercest in the Pac-12.
“It’s not just about winning now but doing it the right way,” right tackle Calvin Throckmorton said. “We want to leave the younger guys with the proper way of practicing and playing, showing them what you can do when you play and work together.”
6.)The time is now: For most of the upperclassmen, the prospect of coming to Oregon meant competing for Pac-12 and national championships year-in and year-out. Instead, with their third head coach in three years, the Ducks have been facing rebuild after rebuild after rebuild.
“We don’t feel as if we are rebuilding anymore because we got the coach we want and with the other coaches all being here last year, we are ready,” wide receiver Dillon Mitchell said. “Instead of hoping to win, we now expect to win because we know what’s expected of us and what we expect of each other.”
With the continuity of coaches returning, combined with the talent on the team, the Ducks feel as if they’re back to competing at the level they all expected when they first arrived on campus. Only time will tell but as of now, you can’t convince anybody in green and yellow that this season is about the future.
“Our time is now, we ready,” running back Tony Brooks-James said.