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Oregon Football

Torres' Take: Latest on Johnny Wilson, CJ Stroud & More

September 3, 2019

Week 1 has come and gone, sending preseason guesswork to the sidelines and leaving us with some tangible performances to evaluate.

The Ducks fell 27-21 to the Auburn Tigers in Texas, and we evaluate the good, the bad and the ugly. We also have a couple of recruiting updates and thoughts on what I made of Oregon’s first game of the 2019 season.

CJ Stroud

The Ducks already have one 2020 quarterback committed -- Jay Butterfield from Liberty (Calif.), the nation's No. 2 pro style passer. The Ducks only having three scholarship quarterbacks on the 2019 roster, so it would be a good idea to sign a second signal caller.

From what I’ve heard and read, the staff has been very open with Butterfield about wanting another 2020 quarterback to join him, and he is on board with it. That sounds all well and good, but ultimately, it is another player the Ducks are giving another person a shot at moving ahead of him on the depth chart.

This is where the transparency and honesty recruits mention about this staff really comes into play. With how they’ve handled this situation, I don’t think in the long run pursuing Stroud has hurt their chances at hanging on to Butterfield.

Our Jonathan Charles spoke to Stroud recently. The 6-2, 195-pound dual-threat QB has seen his name blow up on the recruiting trail, with Oregon being one of the recent schools to officially offer him.

After performing extremely well at the Elite 11 and The Opening Finals, Stroud says the schools after him the hardest are California, Michigan State and Washington State. With fall visits set to kick off soon, Stroud says he wants to see Baylor, Ohio State, Oregon, Penn State and potentially Auburn – depending on how scheduling shakes out.

The Ducks don’t want to come up short on QBs and have depth issues in the future. So they are trying to get ahead of that now while they still have a chance with one of the nation’s top uncommitted prospects.

Johnny Wilson

The Oregon wide receiver commit recently reiterated that he is “100% committed” to the Ducks. At 6-6 and 220 pounds, his renewed pledge should be very welcome news to a receiving corps that is hurting at the moment.

Ranked the No. 9 WR in the country by the 247Sports Composite, Wilson might be the top receiver out west. He likely will have schools after him until he signs, which means the Oregon staff will need to defend its advantage with the 4-star out of Calabasas (Calif.).

As for visits, it looks like Oregon is the only one scheduled at the moment – for the October 11 home game against Colorado.

Wilson attributed his Duck commitment to the family energy the staff gives off. Also, he cited offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo’s coaching success, noting his role in developing Tampa Bay's Mike Evans.

If Oregon can continue to lure coaches with NFL résumés, it will only bolster its appeal to recruits. I love all of the hires Mario Cristobal has made.

Auburn Game

I know. The Ducks lost. It hurt. A lot. But there are still a ton of positives to take away from this game, as well as some things that need to be improved.

This defense looked great. Throughout the game, it displayed confidence and a certain swagger that we just haven’t seen the past couple of years. They were swarming to the ball, and I really liked how Avalos disguised his looks.

The front seven got solid pressure on true freshman Bo Nix and made him uncomfortable, which forced him to make some poor decisions and complete just 13 of 31 passes. The defense forced two interceptions.

Another encouraging defensive sign was how strong the Ducks were in the red zone, in particular forcing the Tigers to settle for a field goal after Justin Herbert’s fumble. It’s situations like that which lead me to believe the defense is a strong point of this team and will help keep it in games. Jevon Holland looked great; I think he is probably the best defensive back on the roster. I was really encouraged by his versatility returning punts and great coverage downfield.

The defensive backfield depth is strong, with Brady Breeze and Verone McKinley IIII getting some action in the opener. I am much more confident now about this group’s ability to step up should anyone miss time.

On the other hand, closing out games looks like it could continue to be a problem for this year's team. The Ducks came out roaring and scored twice in the first quarter. Then the self-inflicted wounds started to pile up, and before we knew it Auburn capitalized and stole the momentum.

In an opinion that could be contrary to many, I like that the offense slowed down and focused less on forcing the tempo. Winning the possession battle is going to be important, especially with the ground-and-pound style Cristobal prefers.

Once again, the drops hurt, and the offense needs to take what is given and not try to overcomplicate things. The third down conversion rate was abysmal at just 4 for 14.

On the plus side, the Ducks played great away from Autzen, which is a key to having a strong season. Fans didn’t get the result they wanted, but our team stayed competitive with one of the stronger programs in the SEC and the entire country -- and for that we should be excited.

I still have Rose Bowl expectations for this team. But the Ducks will need to regroup and come out strong against Nevada in Eugene on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. if they hope to reach their potential.

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