Week two feels simultaneously like a breath of fresh air, an opportunity and a burden for Oregon football. After the Ducks' last minute 27-21 loss to Auburn, coach Mario Cristobal had a lot of topics to cover in his weekly Monday press conference, including one comment that caught me off guard.
Ducks Fly South
Cristobal's opening statement began by thanking fans who traveled to Dallas for the season opener.
"It was awesome coming out of the tunnel and seeing every one out there," Cristobal said. "Looking forward to the opportunity to get back to Autzen Stadium."
Cristobal detailed the current injuries, including two Ducks that will miss the entire 2019 football season. Sophomore linebacker Adrian Jackson and true freshman wide receiver J.R. Waters both suffered season ending foot injuries.
Oregon injury updates from Mario Cristobal:— Bri Amaranthus (@BriAmaranthus) September 2, 2019
-LB Adrian Jackson out for season with foot injury
-Juwan Johnson, Cam McCormick "day-to-day"
-WR JR Waters also done for the season
-Mycah Pittman, Brenden Schooler still rehabbing to get back ASAPhttps://t.co/pu20l1d8kx #GoDucks pic.twitter.com/JJqrFs4N9D
The loss of Waters is another hit to Oregon's wide receiving corps. The Ducks are coping with injuries to Brenden Schooler (right foot), Mycah Pittman (shoulder) and most recently, Juwan Johnson who is day-to-day with a foot injury.
Depth chart changes
As a result of the depleted wide receiving unit, Oregon has switched up its week two depth chart, which Cristobal confirmed.
-Redshirt freshman Spencer Webb has been moved from tight end to wide receiver.
According to Cristobal, Webb's role will be "expanded." Webb saved quarterback Justin Herbert with an absolute stunner play vs. Auburn. Herbert got rushed and hit while throwing the ball into the end zone. Webb went over the top of an Auburn defensive back and came down with the touchdown, then channeled his inner Allen Iverson step-over. The 20-yard score was Webb's first career catch.
With Juwan Johnson out, the 6-foot-6 246-pound Webb was the large target that Herbert desperately needed.
-Sophomore Daewood Davis has been moved from cornerback to wide receiver.
As a redshirt freshman, Davis played receiver in seven games and had a 13-yard reception against San Jose State. He moved from wide receiver to cornerback after the season.
Eight true freshmen made their collegiate debuts for Oregon: wide receiver Josh Delgado (start), linebacker Ge'Mon Eaford, linebacker Mase Funa, safety Jamal Hill, cornerback DJ James, kicker Camden Lewis, defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, cornerback Mykael Wright.
Cristobal named Funa and Thibodeaux as two new Ducks that had impressive performances.
With Jackson's injury, Funa, who had a few major stops vs. Auburn, is the backup at SAM and at the STUD position this week.
Comment of the day
The most ear catching comments were Cristobal's compliments of safety Jevon Holland. "I won't kid you that he's actually a better wide receiver than he is a DB but we're not going to make that move anytime soon," said Cristobal.
The sophomore could arguably be Oregon's MVP from the season opener. His performance made him the first FBS player since 2007 with 130 punt return yards and an interception in the same game. His electrifying 81-yard punt return in the second quarter was the longest punt return in a college game at AT&T Stadium. The ball-hawk intercepted his sixth career interception when he picked off Auburn quarterback Bo Nix in the second quarter. Holland looked like the best player on Oregon's defense on Saturday.
"If he plays to that level all year, he'll be one of the better players in college football," Cristobal said.
Cristobal on Jevon Holland:— Bri Amaranthus (@BriAmaranthus) September 2, 2019
-One of the best players on the field, if not the best
-Better at WR than DB but "we aren't going to move him"
-"He'll be one of the better players in college football" https://t.co/pu20l1d8kx #GoDucks pic.twitter.com/cZGHD5MpJd
Cristobal's comment and piling injuries at the receiver position beg the questions… Should he switch? Could he play on both sides of the ball?
At Bishop O'Dowd High school in California, Holland was a star in all three phases of the game as a receiver, a defensive back and returner. Holland totaled 1,012 yards and 12 touchdowns. He averaged 22 yards per return and took five to the house.
While Cristobal noted there isn't a plan to move Holland currently, there is no doubt Holland's hands and athleticism make him a dangerous player and potential star for the Ducks.
Mario Cristobal's ear-catching comments about Jevon Holland originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest