The 2021 Oregon football season is less than six weeks away (39 days for those counting down), and the college football scene is starting to feel normal again. Aside from the topics of NIL, realignment, and a 12-team playoff, stadiums are opening back up for fans, practice routines are back, and Pac-12 Media Day is in person once again.
Oregon Head Coach Mario Cristobal took the podium to discuss the Ducks' offseason, positions battles, recruiting, and more.
On team's attitude entering fall camp
"I think the most important thing in the offseason is to find out what your team is all about in the form of presenting them with challenges, with adversity, finding ways to groom leadership. We feel there's a very strong sense of urgency, detail, and intensity in our players. They're ready to compete. They're ready for a very competitive, physical, and intense camp."
On quarterback battle
"Anthony Brown will start with the ones. He has earned that. He's done a very good job from a performance standpoint, leadership performance, taking on Coach Moorhead's offensive scheme."
On young backup quarterbacks
"The freshmen behind Brown have done an excellent job as well. It merits them getting an opportunity to compete for that position as well. We will make that happen."
On Kayvon Thibodeaux's leadership on and off the field
"I think any time you sign a player that has that five-star status, you want his work ethic, his demeanor, his leadership qualities to be that of a five-star as well."
On getting Thibodeaux to the next level
"I think the way he pushes himself, the way he demands of himself is really his best trait. His best football is ahead of him. The expectation is that we're going to challenge him because he has such a high ceiling. We got to get him there. We're going to challenge him as best as we possibly can to make sure he reaches his full potential."
On Oregon having a target on its back
"I never and we will never see ourselves as a program with a bullseye on us, a target on us. It's never been that way, never will be that way. When we wake up in the morning, our feet hit the ground, we wake up with a hunger, drive, determination to make sure we're always a hunter in a humble way, driven way."
On running back group
"Fully confident in them. Aaron Smith and Cross Patton have done a great job stepping in there. They showed they're explosive football players that can help us win.
"What I've watched so far of Byron Cardwell and Seven McGee, those guys are going to help right away. Those guys have elite talent. They already know that in our regimen they're going to get pushed, challenged hard and strong. They've responded really well to that."
On hiring Nick Toth as an analyst
To have a guy that knows Tim DeRuyter's system and has done it before is of extreme value. As a coordinator, you always want to be familiar with what he does to try to give him the best chance for success."
On hiring Jimmy Brumbaugh as an analyst
"To supplement our defensive staff and our special teams staff with guys like Coach Brumbaugh, it makes us a stronger staff, a better staff, and it gives us a better chance to be more successful on defense and special teams."
On NIL opportunities creating potential rifts in the locker room
"I think it's a great preschool for real life. They're going to be in job situations, career opportunities where they may not be making as much as somebody else. They might be working just as hard, being just as productive, but somehow it just doesn't go their way. This is a direct reflection of what the real world is like."
On return of Justin Flowe
"Real excited for Justin. He's a guy that's worked really hard not only in the classroom but on the rehab and in his rehab last year as well. Expecting big things from him and the linebacking corps."
On recruiting in June and where the Ducks stand in 2022
"We never feel like we're where we need to be in recruiting. You always want to continue to elevate the level, caliber of athlete and competitor that you bring into the program. To be able to get out there and watch some things live, it's always going to be the best form of evaluation.
"I feel like we've gained a lot of momentum in recruiting. We're so young. Our first complete class is now in their third year of college football. The fact they're doing as well as they're doing bodes well for the next two, three, four, five years of Oregon football.
"Guys are having success from all over the country. They're finding out if they're really serious about football, academics, and a great life after football, that Oregon is the destination. We have to keep our foot on the gas, keep working hard and keep presenting ourselves as genuinely as we always have."
On recruiting in Texas
"I think the results in Texas this year are the result of working at it for a couple of years. You got to plant some seeds and continue working in cultivating an area.
"We're heavily invested in the state of Texas, as well as other parts of the country, because we believe the football and coaching there is off the charts."
On scholarship management
"I don't think you put a cap on recruiting or a cap on numbers. I think any time you do, you end up falling short. We plan on signing a full class again."
On Ty Thompson
"He is off the charts, as talented as it gets, as driven, as motivated as it gets. Diligent, smart, competitor, relentless, physical, an absolute specimen. When he's in there lifting, he looks like a linebacker more than a quarterback.
"We couldn't have asked for a better signee at quarterback. Ty has a monster future at the University of Oregon. He's in the mix as we head into fall camp."
On Brandon Buckner
"He's like a rolling ball of butcher knives. He just goes. He's got great technique and a great motor. Big things expected from him."
On Bram Walden
"Walden is a stud. Walden is another guy that is just physical. If you watch him play in high school, all he did was go after people. He's talented enough to play defensive line. That's how athletic he is."
On the importance of SNL camp
"I think any time you can get your top prospects on campus, it is critically important. If you look at a lot of guys on our current roster, a good chunk of them attended our events or other events on campus.
"Oregon is a special place. You set foot on campus, you realize right away it's different. The investment in the student-athlete, the resources, are at a very different level, which screams of commitment."
On balancing offensive line rotation
"Those young players are extremely talented. They're going to be ready to play. The best thing is guys like Alex Forsyth do a great job of taking them under his wing and teaching them the culture of how we do things.
"He knows that these young guys are going to factor into playing this year. They are that talented. I think we'll play a lot of guys."
On where Oregon is now compared to last fall
"We're ahead physically. We've had a great offseason, both in terms of the winter program and spring football, phase two of strength and conditioning, and then the summer. We've had a chance to implement our systems and reinstall by player-led practices.
"Our bodies have developed tremendously. Guys have put on the right kind of weight and lost the wrong kind of weight. It's where you want to be at this point in time in the calendar."
On keeping players motivated to reach the College Football Playoff
"We live and die by winning. For us, this is life. That's our DNA. We have very big aspirations and goals for this program. We attack it on a daily basis without any outside factors at all being involved in it.
"We want nothing but the absolute biggest and greatest accomplishments on the biggest stage under the brightest lights. We're honestly going to work at it until we get there."
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