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Oregon Football Notes - Week 8
Release Date: 10/15/2007
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For the complete Oregon weekly football notes, see attached PDF

Kickoff is set for 4:30 p.m. at Husky Stadium with a live telecast on FSN.

Washington has more wins against the Ducks than any other UO opponent and leads the all-time series 58-36-5 (.611).
Oregon is 21-33-4 (.397) against the Huskies in Seattle.
UO’s last win at Husky Stadium came in 1997 (31-28).
The Ducks’ current three-game winning streak against UW (all in Eugene) is their longest since taking four straight in the series from 1928 to 1931.
The meeting between the two northwest rivals is their 100th, making Washington the second most common opponent for the Ducks behind Oregon State (110 games).
The series began in 1900, a 43-0 shutout by the Webfoots in Seattle.
The first 20 games between the two schools were played in Seattle (1900-25).

Oregon comes in ranked fourth in the nation in rushing at 266.0 yards per game.
Mike Bellotti coached his 100th Pac-10 game last Saturday and is 62-38 all-time versus league competition.
The Ducks have lost three regulars on offense the last four weeks due to injury. SR WR Cameron Colvin (ankle), JR RB Jeremiah Johnson (knee) and SR WR Brian Paysinger (knee) combined for 11 of UO’s 34 TDs to date (32 percent).
SR QB Dennis Dixon has thrown TD passes to seven different players in 2007.
The Oregon defense has kept the opposition off the scoreboard in 10 of 24 quarters (42 percent) this season.

REED’S BIG DAY EARNS NATIONAL, PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK HONORS ... JR DE Nick Reed was named the national Defensive Player of the Week by the Walter Camp Football Foundation as well as the Pac-10 defensive POTW for Week 7. Reed led the Ducks’ defensive resurgence in the 53-7 Homecoming victory over Washington State Oct. 13, recording career highs of 3.5 sacks. 11 total tackles (6 solo) and 5.0 tackles for loss. The two-year starter ranks third nationally in sacks per game (1.25) and fourth in tackles for loss per contest (2.17).

Washington SO QB Jake Locker and Oregon SR QB Dennis Dixon lead their respective teams in rushing touchdowns with six apiece.
UW will be playing its fifth ranked opponent and third top 10 foe in seven games this season.
No current Oregon players have played against Washington at Husky Stadium.
JR ROV Patrick Chung has two career interceptions and a 59-yard punt return for a touchdown against the Huskies.
JR RB Jonathan Stewart is averaging 6.0 yards per carry and has three career touchdowns vs. Washington.
The Ducks have limited Husky SR RB Louis Rankin to 105 yards on 30 carries (3.5 ypg) in three career games vs. UO.
Washington SR WR Anthony Russo has nine career catches against the Ducks for 141 yards and a touchdown over three games.
UW has averaged 59.7 net rushing yards over the past three meetings against Oregon.

STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE ... Accentuating Oregon’s 5-1 start and top 10 national ranking (7th AP, 6th USA Today) is the fact that its schedule currently ranks as the 15th toughest in the country in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly I-A) in regards to winning percentage by its first six opponents. Those six foes have accumulated a winning percentage of .633 (19-11 vs. FBS opponents not including Oregon), with four of the opponents boasting a .500 or better mark. In addition, neither Michigan (5-0) nor Fresno State (3-0) has lost since being defeated by the Ducks. When taking into account the accumulative winning percentages of all 12 of Oregon’s opponents (.612), its schedule ranks 14th in the country in strength.

OREGON FOOTBALL LIVE ... Oregon’s final six regular season games will all be televised live, starting with the Oct. 20 game at Washington (4:30 p.m. on FSN). All remaining kickoff times have been finalized with the exception of the UCLA game on Nov. 24, which will be at either 12:30, 3:30 or 4:30, depending on which TV outlet is awarded the broadcast. The Nov. 3 home game against Arizona State (OSN) has been moved back 15 minutes and will now kickoff at 3:45 p.m.

LIGHTNING STRIKES ... Of Oregon’s 33 total drives resulting in touchdowns this season, seven have taken 18 seconds or less, 12 have occurred in less than one minute and 19 have lasted fewer than 120 seconds. The Ducks have scored on their first offensive play in two games (Stanford & Wash. St.).

THE POWER OF 10 ... A first in Mike Bellotti’s Oregon career, the Ducks have had 10 true freshman make appearances in 2007. DT Tonio Celotto, WR Drew Davis, CB Talmadge Jackson III, HB Malachi Lewis, FS Jeffrey Maehl, LB Casey Matthews, PK Daniel Padilla and DE Kenny Rowe all saw action in the season opener Sept. 1 vs. Houston, while CB Anthony Gildon joined the frosh parade at Michigan Sept. 8 and WR Aaron Pflugrad debuted at Stanford Sept. 22. Bellotti had never used more than seven true freshmen in any single season since taking over head coaching duties in 1995. A total of 11 newcomers were identified by Bellotti during the preseason as possibilities to take the field as first-year freshmen before the year is over. Three true freshmen played for the Ducks last season (QB Nate Costa, RB Andre Crenshaw and WR Derrick Jones), with the most first-year collegians to play in Bellotti’s first 12 seasons being seven (2004).

A BOY NAMED “PFLU” ... FR WR Aaron Pflugrad, who began the season third on the depth chart at slot receiver and tabbed for a possible redshirt season, has moved into the starting role following the loss of SR WR Cameron Colvin to a broken ankle Oct. 13 vs. Washington State. Pflugrad stepped up immediately against WSU, catching four balls including his first career TD on a 22-yard pass. Pflugrad’s father Robin, UO’s receivers coach, was an academic All-American wideout who caught passes from Neil Lomax at Portland State.

MAKING A STAND ... One detriment of the Ducks’ high-powered offense has been the lack of credit paid to an improving defense. Since allowing 545 yards of total offense to Houston in the season opener, Oregon’s defense has rebounded to allow opponents an average of 361.6 yards of total offense in its last five appearances (104.4 rushing avg., 257.2 yds. passing). The defense put up some of its best numbers of the season a week ago, holding the Pac-10’s passing offense leader, Washington State, to only 251 yards through the air. That is the second-lowest passing total Oregon has allowed this year (Michigan, 221 yds. passing), while Washington State’s 63 rushing yards was lower than all of the Ducks’ foes with the exception of Fresno State (60). Washington State accumulated 314 yards of total offense against Oregon, with only USC holding the Cougars to fewer yards this year (247 yds.).

FOURTH-AND-SHORT ... The Oregon defense has successfully turned opponents away the last five times they have attempted to convert 4th-down situations into first downs. Included were unsuccessful attempts by Stanford to pick up one yard on third and fourth downs.

HALF FULL ... Oregon’s 42 first-half points vs. Fresno State were the most in a half by the Ducks since scoring 49 in the opening half of a 72-10 home victory over Nevada on Sept. 18, 1999.

HALF FULL REDUX ... The second-highest scoring half this season came against Washington State, when the Ducks put up 40 against the Cougars’ goose egg. The 40-point lead at the break is believed to be the largest in school history (specific records date to 1960).

TOTAL O’ ... SR QB Dennis Dixon cruised into Oregon’s career record book for total offense, thanks to his 368-yard effort at Michigan, Sept. 8. Dixon now ranks seventh all-time with 5,469 yards. Bill Musgrave (1987-90) holds the record with 8,140.

RUNNING IT UP ... The Ducks have surpassed the 300-yard rushing mark in three of their six games this season, totaling 339 vs. Houston, 331 at Michigan and 307 vs. Fresno State. That string of three straight marked the first time in the Mike Bellotti era that the Ducks put up more rushing yards than passing yards in three consecutive games. Oregon has five games of 300-plus since the start of 2006 and the game against the Houston Cougars marked the highest total since setting the school record of 446 yards at Washington State Oct. 27, 2001.

DEAN OF THE PAC-10 ... Not only has 13th-year head coach Mike Bellotti resumed his role as the longest-tenured football mentor in the conference, he stands as one of its most successful. Surpassed only by USC in overall wins in the Pacific-10 Conference during his Oregon tenure (102-49), he is among an elite collection of all-time conference coaches who have won 60 or more league games during their illustrious careers in the loop currently known as the Pac-10. Only nine conference brethren have ever achieved that milestone as Bellotti is eighth on the Pac-10’s all-time list of league coaching victories (62-38), three wins shy of tying USC’s Howard Jones (65-23-12) for fourth. That record places him 17th on the league’s career winning percentage list in Pac-10 games (.620).

CLIMBING THE LADDER ... Mike Bellotti became the winningest football coach in the history of the University of Oregon in 2006, surpassing the 91 victories secured by Rich Brooks (1977-94). Only Hugo Bezdek (72.7%1906, 1913-17) has accumulated a better winning percentage than Bellotti’s 67.5 percent (102-49) among his peers who have coached the Ducks a minimum of three seasons.

STAFF CHANGES ... Chip Kelly is in his first year as the program’s sixth offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach under head coach Mike Bellotti. Kelly spent the past eight seasons as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at New Hampshire, with the Wildcats finishing second in the NCAA’s Championship Subdivision (I-AA) in total offense (493.5), third in scoring (41.7) and fifth in passing (300.1 avg.) in 2005. He replaces Gary Crowton, who departed to assume the same role at LSU. In addition, former Oregon special teams coordinator/tight ends coach (1995-2000) Tom Osborne returns to Eugene in his same capacity after spending the past six years at Arizona State.

CONTINUITY ... Of the Ducks’ 10 coaches, five of them have coached at Oregon for a minimum of 15 years.

BALL MAGNETS ... In four of six games this season the Ducks have had a player recover a fumble AND record an interception. SO CB Jairus Byrd did it in back-to-back games to start the year, SO CB Walter Thurmond III accomplished the feat Sept. 15 vs. Fresno State and JR SLB Jerome Boyd was credited with dual TOs vs. Washington State Oct. 13. Thurmond returned his fumble recovery 25 yards for his first career touchdown.

FOLLOW THE LIGHTNING YELLOW BRICK ROAD ... It certainly didn’t take long for the return of special teams coordinator Tom Osborne to make an impact following a six-year hiatus. Osborne, who served in the identical capacity as the Ducks’ special teams coordinator/tight ends coach from 1995-2000 before spending the past six years at Arizona State, returned to Eugene prior to this season and so far has paid immediate dividends. After the first seven weeks of the season, Oregon finds itself ranked first in the Pacific-10 Conference in kickoff returns (No. 16 nationally, 25.1 avg.); fourth in punt returns (8.4 avg.); and second in net punting (38.9 avg.). In addition, JR RB Jonathan Stewart is first in kickoff returns (29.5 avg). A year ago, the Ducks finished 10th in net punting (33.3 avg.).

LEADING BY EXAMPLE ... For the first time in Mike Bellotti’s head coaching tenure, the Ducks named season captains at the end of fall camp. JR ROV Patrick Chung, SR QB Dennis Dixon, SR LB A.J. Tuitele and JR C Max Unger were selected in a vote by their teammates. Oregon had used game captains since 1993. With Tuitele currently sidelined with a broken foot, the coaches will elect a captain in his place on a per game basis until his return.

AUTZEN ADVANTAGE ... Oregon’s 41-year old facility has earned the reputation as one of the nation’s toughest college football venues for visiting teams. The Ducks have produced a 59-17 record (.776) in Autzen Stadium in the 13 seasons under the direction of Mike Bellotti. Since encountering an uncharacteristic 3-3 record at home in 2004, Oregon has bounced back to win 13 of its last 16 games on its home turf.

C-NOTE FOR BELLOTTI ... With UO’s win over Fresno State on Sept. 15, Mike Bellotti joined a select number of coaches, becoming the sixth to amass 100 or more wins at one school in the Pac-8/Pac-10 Conference. Leading the way is Washington’s Don James, who tallied a 153-57-2 mark (1975-92) in 18 seasons in Seattle. The other four were UCLA’s Terry Donahue (151-74-8; 1976-95), as well as USC’s John McKay (127-40-8; 1960-75), Howard Jones (121-36-13; 1925-40) and John Robinson (104-35-4; 1976-82, 1993-97). Tommy Prothro did combine for a 104-55-5 record at Oregon State (1955-64) and UCLA (1965-70), but 63 wins were the most posted at one school (OSU). Frank Kush acquired a 176-54-1 ledger in 22 seasons at Arizona State but only 12 of those wins occurred after the Sun Devils became a part of the Pac-10 in 1978.

VS. THE TOP 25 ... Although Mike Bellotti-coached teams have accumulated a 21-23 record against top 25-ranked opponents, the Ducks are 10-8 in Autzen Stadium since 1995 and 3-2 vs. the top 10 at home during that same span.

AFTER THE BREAK ... Oregon has posted a 13-1 record on Saturdays following a bye week during the regular season under Mike Bellotti, including wins in its last 12 opportunities with an additional week to prepare. The last time the Ducks were unsuccessful coming after a break in the schedule was 1996 when they dropped a 33-14 decision to Washington despite extra time to prepare. Oregon hopes to benefit from one more such opportunity this season. Following its Nov. 3 home game against Arizona State, it will have 12 days before it’s Thursday night (Nov. 15) game at Arizona.

ELITE VISITORS ... Oregon has hosted an opponent ranked among the nation’s top 10 on 21 occasions since Autzen Stadium opened in 1967, with the Ducks accumulating an 8-12-1 ledger. USC’s 2005 win in Eugene snapped a five-game winning streak at home against elite visitors, with their 31-27 victory over Michigan in 2003 marking their last home win over a top 10-ranked foe. The Ducks have played 25 games under Bellotti where both Oregon and its opponent were ranked among the nation’s Top 25, with the Ducks accumulating a 14-11 mark on those occasions.

THE STREAK GOES ON ... JR C Max Unger and JR ROV Patrick Chung extended their respective starting streaks to 31 games vs. California on Sept. 29. The duo has started every game played by the Ducks since the beginning of 2005. Unger’s six starts this season have been at center after moving over from tackle.

RECORD RUSH ... JR RB Jonathan Stewart set an Autzen Stadium record for the longest run in the venue’s history with his 88-yard touchdown vs. Fresno State on Sept. 15. The carry was also the second longest in school history behind a 92-yard gallop by Bob Smith in 1938.

BUSTIN’ LOOSE ... SR QB Dennis Dixon’s 50-yard run in the first quarter of the Sept. 1 game vs. Houston was the longest rush of his career until an 80-yard TD scamper in the 3rd. The 80-yard carry was the longest by a UO player since Ricky Whittle had an 80-yarder of his own vs. Cal on Nov. 7, 1992.

PUNTING PROFICIENCY ... Not since 2002 has Oregon climbed out of the bottom half of the Pac-10 rankings in net punting. Yet the Ducks hope to change that. Ranking No. 8 in the country as a team, Oregon is currently second in the conference (38.9-yard average) while junior newcomer Josh Syria is 43rd nationally in overall punting (42.3-yard avg.) and fourth in the Pac-10.

CENTURY MARK PROVES KEY ... The Ducks are 9-1 since the start of 2006 when they have a 100-yard rusher. JR RB Jonathan Stewart has managed the feat nine times - most recently vs. California, the team’s lone setback - while SR QB Dennis Dixon accounts for the other. In the eight other games, UO is 2-6.

THREE DEEP ... Not only do the Ducks have two players with third generation names, but they both play right cornerback and rank 1-2 on the depth chart. UO’s pair of trips: SO Walter Thurmond III and FR Talmadge Jackson III.

DIXON ON PACE ... SR QB Dennis Dixon has made strides from year to year in his accuracy, completing better than 64.1 percent of his passes (391-610) and putting him on pace to shatter Kellen Clemens’ career school record of 61.0 percent.

BORN TO BE A DUCK ... FR H-Back Malachi Lewis may have grown up in California, but his first few days on earth were spent in Eugene, where his mother Sheila (Sattiewhite) Lewis spent four-years as a letterwinner on the Ducks’ women’s basketball team. Born at Sacred Heart Hospital, the younger Lewis played his first college football game less than two miles away at Autzen Stadium on Sept. 1 and recovered a blocked punt to set up a key third-quarter touchdown in UO’s win over Houston.

BOWL PREDICTIONS ... Website CBS SportsLine, as do many media outlets, publishes Bowl predictions on a weekly basis, following the results of each week’s games. So far this season, Oregon has changed potential Bowl sites and/or opponents every week. Before the opener, the Ducks were slated to face Wyoming in the Armed Forces Bowl. After beating Houston, UO moved up to the Emerald Bowl vs. Boise State, and after the Sept. 8 win at Michigan, the Ducks were pegged for a Sun Bowl showdown with Rutgers. UO stayed in the Sun Bowl picture after the Stanford win and bumped to the Holiday Bowl vs. Texas after losing to Cal. The current projection has an Oregon vs. Oklahoma showdown in the Fiesta Bowl.

MIRACLE MAN ... SR FS Ryan DePalo completed his miraculous comeback from a torn ACL is his right knee, making a first-quarter tackle in the season opener, 18 weeks removed from surgery. When he suffered the injury during spring drills it appeared his return would be delayed until the Bowl season.

COLLEGE GRADUATES ... Four Oregon seniors take to the football field this fall as college graduates, while two others already has completed his requirements in his major and is expected to graduate by the end of the fall term. SR QB Brady Leaf (political science/business minor), SR LS Eric Steimer (political science), SR OG Josh Tschirgi (political science) and LB A.J. Tuitele (political science) already have earned their undergraduate degrees, while SR OT Geoff Schwartz (political science) and SR QB Dennis Dixon (sociology) will do so by the end of December.

NFL PEDIGREE ... No fewer than five Oregon players have fathers who played in the National Football League, with the names of their fathers and their NFL career listed in parenthesis. Included are SO CB Jairus Byrd (Gill Byrd, DB - San Diego, 1983-92), FR DT Tonio Celotto (Mario Celotto, LB - Buffalo, Oakland and Los Angeles Rams, 1977-83), JR LB Erik Elshire (Neil Elshire, DE - Minnesota, 1981-86), SR FS Matthew Harper (Willie Harper, DE - San Francisco, 1973-83) and FR LB Casey Matthews (Clay Matthews, LB - Cleveland and Atlanta, 1978-96).

DIXON NAMED PLAYER OF THE WEEK AGAIN ... For the second time this season, SR QB Dennis Dixon was named the Pac-10’s offensive Player of the Week (Week 4). Dixon accounted for career-highs of five touchdowns (4 pass, 1 rush), 367 passing yards and 27 completions in leading Oregon to a 55-31 road win against Stanford on Sept. 22. The senior from San Leandro, Calif., also took home the award in Week 2, following his four-touchdown performance in the Ducks’ 39-7 victory at Michigan. Dixon is the first Duck to earn multiple offensive POTW awards in the same season since quarterback Joey Harrington in 2001 (Oct. 6 & Nov. 3).

THE DIXON AWARDS ... In addition to SR QB Dennis Dixon’s Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week award for Week 2, Dixon was named both the and USA Today national POTW.

NON-CONFERENCE SUCCESS ... The Ducks have amassed a 27-1 record in non-conference games in Autzen Stadium during Mike Bellotti’s head coaching tenure. Their lone home loss during that span was dealt by Indiana (30-24) to open the 2004 season. Overall, Oregon has accumulated a 39-5 non-league slate in Bellotti’s 13 years at the helm.

ON THE DIAMOND ... Despite not playing baseball since the summer of 2003, SR QB Dennis Dixon was a fifth-round choice of the Atlanta Braves (168th overall) in this summer’s Amateur Baseball Draft. Dixon, who turned down an offer to play for the Cincinnati Reds when he was picked in the 20th round in the 2003 draft, returned to Eugene one week prior to the start of fall camp. He began the summer playing for the Gulf Coast Braves in Kissimmee, Fla., before finishing his summer stint with the Danville (VA) Braves. In 28 games, the outfielder accumulated 13 hits in 74 at bats, accounted for eight runs scored and seven RBIs, while stealing five bases without being thrown out. Finishing with a .188 average in Florida, he connected for five hits in his last 12 at bats before spending a final week in Virginia. Although Oregon has not fielded a baseball team since 1981, Dixon isn’t the Ducks’ first quarterback to pursue a baseball career. Chris Miller spent the summer of 1986 playing baseball in the Seattle Mariners’ organization before returning to earn first-team all-conference honors on the football field for the second year in a row.

SECOND TO NONE ... Individual standouts in the secondary have been one of Oregon’s strong suits over the years, with a collection of defensive backs that led the Ducks to the Rose Bowl in 1994 among the best. Four of standouts that played on that team were eventually drafted into the NFL, spanning from senior All-Americans Chad Cota and Herman O’Berry, and junior Alex Molden to freshman Kenny Wheaton. Cornerbacks Rashad Bauman and Steve Smith were multiple year-all conference honorees in the early years of this decade. If last year is an accurate indication, a current contingent of standout defensive backs may rival those groups. JR ROV Patrick Chung returns as the leader of the group as has finished among his team’s top three tacklers in each of his first two seasons. Seldom has Oregon enjoyed the exploits from a pair of young cornerbacks any more than Jairus Byrd and Walter Thurmond III, who helped Oregon lead the Pac-10 in pass defense last year as redshirt freshmen. Byrd finished third in the league in interceptions (5) and Chung tied for seventh (4), while Byrd (12) and Chung (10) ranked seventh and eighth, respectively, in passes defended.

CONSECUTIVE SELLOUTS ... Oregon has sold out all four home games this season, running its streak to 52 straight dating back to the 1999 season. Included in this season’s capacity crowds was the largest ever at Autzen Stadium when the Ducks drew 59,273 for Cal on Sept. 29. The last game that fell short of a sellout was vs. Nevada (41,374) on Sept. 18, 1999. USC came to Autzen Stadium the following week, with the Ducks prevailing in a triple-overtime thriller.

ATTENDANCE RECORD ... The Ducks played in front of the largest crowd in school history when they traveled to Ann Arbor, Mich., to face the Wolverines on Sept. 8. Michigan Stadium, aka the Big House, which lists a capacity of 107,501, had 109,733 to watch the Big Ten/Pac-10 battle. The largest crowd Oregon had played in front of prior to that was in the 1995 Rose Bowl when 102,247 spectators watched the conference champions face Penn State.

ESPN COLLEGE GAMEDAY RETURNS TO EUGENE ... ESPN College GameDay, the premier college football pre-game show, made its second ever appearance in Eugene for the Sept. 29 game against Cal. The 15-year show’s only visits to the Pacific Northwest have been at Oregon.

MORE STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE ... Oregon’s 12 2007 opponents accumulated an 88-65 record (.575) a year ago, with seven of the foes advancing to bowl games.

RECORD TICKET SALES ... Oregon has established a record for season-ticket sales for the 10th year in a row. The Ducks already have sold 43,242 tickets on a season basis, exceeding last year’s mark in excess of 42,600 season tickets. A year ago, the school averaged 58,378 fans per game in a stadium that boasts a capacity of 54,000.

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