Oregon Ducks: Matt Wogan

Our look at position groups in the Pac-12 concludes with punters.

Arizona: Drew Riggleman is back after handling all of the punting responsibilities last season. He averaged 40.1 yards per kick, pinned 18 inside the 20 and had 12 kicks of 50-plus yards. He ranked eighth in the conference -- though the difference between first (Utah’s Tom Hackett) and Riggleman was an average of 3.4 yards.

Arizona State: Punting was one of ASU’s biggest issues last season. Matt Haack started to come on strong at the end of the season and will likely challenge Alex Garoutte, who averaged 38.8 yards per kick last season. Should Haack win the job, Garoutte is always an option with his rollout style. Quarterback Taylor Kelly has also been known to offer the occasional boot. He punted six times last season, once for 50-plus, and had three downed inside the 20.

California: Cole Leininger is back after a very solid season for the Golden Bears, where he was tied for second in the conference with an average of 42.9 yards per kick. Cal has four punters on the roster in addition to Leininger. And while he’s mostly unchallenged, there are plenty of backup options.

Colorado: Third-team all-conference punter Darragh O'Neill returns and was a midseason Ray Guy candidate last season. He averaged 40.5 yards per punt last year and pinned 22 inside the 20.

Oregon: Alejandro Maldonado handled the punting duties last season and made a couple of appearances as a kicker before the job went to Matt Wogan. Expect Wogan to handle all kicking responsibilities, though some walk-ons will also get looks.

Oregon State: Keith Kostol is back as a third-year starter. He finished last season tied for fifth in the conference with an average of 40.5 yards per punt. He also put 23 kicks inside the 20.

Stanford: Ben Rhyne returns to handle the punting duties for the Cardinal. He was one of the best in the conference last season with an average of 42.9 yards per kick -- just half a yard behind Hackett. He had 12 kicks of 50-plus yards and put 15 inside the 20.

UCLA: Sean Covington is back after having a very solid season, where he posted an average of 42.6 yards per punt. Do-it-all quarterback Brett Hundley punted once last season, but it’s safe to assume that Convington’s job is secure.

USC: Kris Albarado didn’t post an impressive yards-per-punt average (37.1), but he was very good at pinning opponents, with 27 kicks inside the 20. And of his 64 kicks, almost half were fair-caught.

Utah: Hackett was last season's first-team all-conference punter, so expect some preseason All-American hype for him. As noted earlier, he led the conference with an average of 43.4 yards per punt and buried 27 kicks inside the 20.

Washington: Travis Coons pulled double-duty last season. In addition to nailing 15 of 16 field goal attempts, he also averaged 40.4 yards per punt and had eight kicks of 50-plus yards to go with 23 inside the 20. Korey Durkee did some punting in 2012 before Coons won the job, so he’ll get the first look in 2014. Newcomer Tristan Vizcaino could also get looks at kicker and/or punter.

Washington State: Wes Concepcion was the starter in the final two games as punter last season. With Mike Bowlin gone, he should be the favorite to handle punting duties full time. Concepcion punted 12 times last season for an average of 36.2 yards. Eight of those 12 were fair catches and three were inside the 20.

Previous positions

Kicker
Safety
Cornerback
Linebacker
Defensive end
Tight end
Quarterback
Running back
Receiver
Offensive line
Defensive tackle
Our look at position groups in the Pac-12 continues with place-kickers.

Arizona: Casey Skowron, Bret Miller and Michael Unzicker are all in the mix this spring to replace Jake Smith, who converted 12 of 19 kicks (63.2 percent) last season, including a long of 53. The 12 converted field goals were the lowest in the conference, as was the conversion percentage.

Arizona State: No team in the Pac-12 attempted more field goals in 2013 than the Sun Devils -- and Zane Gonzalez was one of the few bright spots for an otherwise dismal ASU special teams unit. The freshman All-American converted 25 of 30 attempts (83.3) and had a streak of 18 straight.

California: With Vincenzo D’Amato gone (he was 17 of 20 last season), it’s looking like James Langford, Noah Beito and Matt Anderson will all get looks. Langford might have the edge as the kickoff guy with Beito a potential early frontrunner for field goals.

Colorado: Senior Will Oliver is back after converting 17 of 24 kicks last year (70.8 percent). He was perfect inside the 30 (7 of 7) and missed just once inside of 40 yards. Three of his misses came from 50-plus (2 of 5). He’s a potential All-American candidate. Strong-legged Diego Gonzalez from Guadalupe, Mexico, is waiting in the wings.

Oregon: Oregon’s kicking adventures weren’t as interesting in 2013 as they’ve been in the past. While the Ducks attempted the fewest field goals in the conference, Matt Wogan was a solid 7 of 9, and Alejandro Maldonado was 3 of 5 for a combined 71.4 percent -- seventh in the conference. Wogan returns and should be considered the frontrunner to handle all kicking duties, including punting.

Oregon State: Trevor Romaine returns as a fourth-year starter after converting 14 of 20 attempts last season. He was mostly money inside of 40 yards, converting 11 of 13 attempts. But struggled on the longer kicks, converting just 2 of 5 between 40-49 yards and 1 of 2 beyond 50.

Stanford: Jordan Williamson is back after connecting on 18 of 22 kicks in 2013, including a long of 48. Of his four misses, two of them came from 50 yards or longer, where he was 0 for 2. He was automatic inside the 30 and 15 of 16 inside of 40 yards. Time to finally put the 2011 Fiesta Bowl to rest. He's one of the league's most consistent kickers.

UCLA: Ka’imi Fairbairn returns after a hit-and-miss year where he connected on 14 of 21 kicks with a long of 48. He had a stretch where he converted on eight in a row. But also had some inconsistent games (2 of 4 against Nebraska, 2 of 4 against ASU).

USC: Andre Heidari had an up-and-down season. He struggled greatly in the 40-49 yard range, converting on just 3 of 8 kicks. Overall, he was 15 of 22, and his 2013 will most likely be remembered for his 47-yard game-winner against Stanford. Heidari also handled almost every kickoff, though punter Kris Albarado is available if needed.

Utah: "Automatic" Andy Phillips returns after making quite the splash in his first season of football. The former skier became a household name -- well, at least a name in Pac-12 households -- after converting on the first 11 field goals of his career. He’s got a big leg, converting on 9 of 11 from 40 yards or longer.

Washington: No easy task replacing Travis Coons, who handled kicking and punting for the Huskies. He was the Pac-12’s most accurate kicker in 2013, converting on 15 of 16 attempts. Cameron Van Winkle handled some kickoffs before an injury set him back, and Tristan Vizcaino comes in this fall and should be in the mix.

Washington State: Strong-legged Andrew Furney is gone. Wes Concepcion and Erik Powell are the kickers on the roster. Powell was a walk-on, but the coaching staff is high on him. Concepcion likely will handle punting but could kick if needed.

Previous positions

Safety
Cornerback
Linebacker
Defensive end
Tight end
Quarterback
Running back
Receiver
Offensive line
Defensive tackle

Season review: Oregon

January, 9, 2014
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We continue our team-by-team review of the Pac-12 with Oregon.

[+] EnlargeMariota
Soobum Im/USA TODAY SportsA healthy Marcus Mariota made a huge difference for the Oregon offense.
Offense: Things were going pretty well there, for a while. The Ducks stormed out of the gates and scored at least 50 points in their first five games and in six of their first seven. Then Marcus Mariota quietly, partially, tore his MCL and Oregon’s offensive decline was evident. They went from scoring an average of 57.5 points per game in the first seven to 31.3 over the final six. Still, they averaged more than 45 points per game, which was fourth nationally, and they were a top-10 rushing team and a top-25 passing team. All in all, the Ducks were again one of the most dominant offensive teams in the country. Obviously, as Mariota goes, so go the Ducks. In the first seven games, pre-injury, he was completing 62 percent of his throws with 19 touchdowns, zero interceptions and an adjusted QBR of 95.3. He also had nine rushing touchdowns. Post-injury, his completion percentage actually went up to 64 percent because he wasn’t running, but that also means he had zero rushing touchdowns, 12 passing touchdowns, four interceptions and an adjusted QBR of 79.9 percent. Still, he finished as the national leader in adjusted QBR, Byron Marshall was a 1,000-yard rusher and Josh Huff and Bralon Addison were a vicious receiving duo. Aside from a couple of games, the Ducks offense was explosive and potent. Grade: A

Defense: Stanford and Arizona used similar tactics in their wins over the Ducks. Run, rinse, repeat. Tyler Gaffney carried the ball 45 times and Terrance Mitchell and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu were as advertised, combining for eight interceptions and Derrick Malone posted a team-high 105 tackles with two interceptions. Avery Patterson also pitched in three picks as the Ducks were plus-seven in turnover margin. But the lingering problem all year was third-down defense, where the Ducks allowed teams to convert better than 40 percent of the time -- which was 10th in the conference. In the games when things got tight, the defense wasn’t able to get off the field. Grade: B

Special teams: The kicking game is always an, ahem, adventure, when it comes to the Ducks. But this year things were a little more consistent. Matt Wogan was a solid 7 of 9 and Alejandro Maldonado was 3 of 5. Though neither converted a kick beyond 40 yards (Wogan attempted only one and missed, Maldonado didn’t attempt any). Plus, there were three missed PATs on the year (Wogan missed two, Maldonado one). Maldonado was solid at punting and the kick return and coverage teams were steady. Addison returned two punts for touchdowns and De’Anthony Thomas returned one kick for a score. Grade: B+

Overall: Again, we base a lot of these grades on what the expectation was versus where the team finished. And despite an 11-win season, the Ducks, once thought to be a national championship contender, failed to meet those expectations. In fact, they failed to make it to a BCS bowl game. The loss to Stanford was viewed as disappointing -- but certainly not shocking. The loss to Arizona was head-scratching. And from a public relations standpoint, the Ducks didn’t have a great year. Still, they did win their bowl game and finished ranked in the top 10. There’s something to be said for that. And we’re in no way calling Mark Helfrich’s first year as coach a bust. He won a bowl game in his first year – which Chip Kelly never did -- and probably learned a few lessons along the way. When you have a title-game-or-bust mentality, every loss is heart-wrenching. But we also understand that injuries can impact a team -- especially injuries to a Heisman-contending quarterback. Grade: B.

Week 13 helmet stickers

November, 24, 2013
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It was a dreary day for Oregon at Arizona, but here are a helmet stickers nonetheless.

Marcus Mariota, QB: He threw his first two interceptions of the year, but he still played well and clearly wasn't the reason the Ducks lost. He completed 27 of 41 passes for 308 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 52 yards. He was not sacked.

Matt Wogan, K: Wogan made a 33-yard field goal and a PAT and three of his four kickoffs were not returned. On the downside, he failed to score on a 2-point play.

Alejandro Maldonado, P: He averaged 44 yards on two punts.

Planning for success: Oregon

November, 14, 2013
11/14/13
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When the transitive property starts getting thrown around in sports, ridiculousness can ensue.

Eastern Washington beat Oregon State, which beat Utah. Therefore, the mighty Eagles would beat Utah, so it says. Now, maybe that's true, maybe it isn't, but the elementary logic used to reach that conclusion is by no means definitive.

[+] EnlargeKyle Whittingham
Robert Hanashiro/USA TODAY SportsKyle Whittingham brings a struggling team to Eugene this weekend, but a Utah win over Stanford is all Oregon needs to know to take the Utes seriously.
Taking it further: Utah beat Stanford, which beat Oregon. Therefore?

Therefore nothing, really, except: "I guess psychologically that could be a little bit of a positive," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said Tuesday in advance of Saturday's trip to Autzen Stadium to play No. 6 Oregon.

Utah's 27-21 win over Stanford last month gives credibility to a team that might not have it otherwise. For Oregon coach Mark Helfrich, that game overshadows the fact that it is the Utes' only conference win.

"We need to know nothing more than they beat Stanford and did a great job in that game," Helfrich said.

Since then, Utah has dropped three straight, matching the second-longest losing streak in Whittingham's tenure.

"We've been able to stand toe to toe with the best teams in the Pac-12, but nobody cares about being close," Whittingham said. "Obviously Stanford was a big win, but we've struggled a little bit since then."

A date with Oregon doesn't figure to help right the ship, especially as the Ducks look to bounce back following their crushing loss to Stanford last week. Oregon hasn't lost consecutive games during a season since 2007, when Chip Kelly was in his first year as the school's offensive coordinator. In the two previous seasons, Oregon has responded to its three losses with wins by an average of 33.7 points.

Other than the extra prep time due to last week's Thursday game, Helfrich said it's been business as usual in Eugene.

"Just like in a win, you evaluate, hey why did this work? Why did this not work?" he said. "Maybe it was luck, maybe it was scheme, maybe it was our execution? How can we coach this better?"

The only major change Helfrich made public was the fact that the platoon at kicker between senior Alejandro Maldonado and true freshman Matt Wogan is over. Wogan handled all the place-kicking duties against Stanford and will continue to do so moving forward.

Wogan connected on his only field-goal attempt of the season, a 38-yarder against Tennessee, and has been good on 30-of-31 extra points. Maldonado was 3-for-5 on field goals and 29-of-30 on extra points but admitted publicly he's struggled with confidence.

“It comes down to nothing more, nothing less, than we think [Wogan] gives us the best chance to make a kick," Helfrich said. “He’s done a better job."

Five things to watch for Oregon

August, 30, 2013
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Five storylines to keep an eye on for Oregon’s game against Nicholls State.
  1. Coaching style: Few are expecting much resistance from the Colonels, a team that was in the state of Oregon last December and was blasted 77-3 by the Beavers. So if you are wondering how similar or different Mark Helfrich will be compared to Chip Kelly, this probably isn’t a good measuring-stick game. We know what Chip Kelly would do on fourth-and-3 from his own 35 – and it didn’t matter if it was Southern Middle Tennessee Tech School of Interior Design or Stanford. What kind of game manager will Helfrich be?
  2. LB spotlight: With the departures of Michael Clay, Kiko Alonso and Dion Jordan, the spotlight is on the linebackers to try to match the production of its predecessors. It’s not a young or inexperienced group by any means – just the opposite. Boseko Lokombo, Derrick Malone, Rodney Hardrick and Tony Washington have all been in the system and have experience and quality reps. While the linebackers might be a question mark on paper, chances are the group flourishes with more reps as a unit.
  3. Playing time? How long will we see the starters? In the nonconference schedule last season, the starters pretty much only played in the first half. Some argued that with more playing time and padded stats, quarterback Marcus Mariota could have been in Heisman contention. Mariota is no longer an unknown as he was before last season and coming off a quarterback competition with Bryan Bennett. But he’ll still probably play the first half, considering what the score will be 30 minutes into the game.
  4. What about DAT? Helfrich was noncommittal earlier this week when talking about the number of carries for De’Anthony Thomas, who might take on a bigger role in the rushing game this year with the departure of Kenjon Barner. However, he also said that Byron Marshall had a strong camp – and it’s more likely that he assumes Barner’s old role, which frees up Thomas to do what he does best. Don’t think of Thomas’ production in terms of carries -- think in terms of touches. Rushes, receptions, kick and/or punt returns. How many touches he gets is more vital than how many carries.
  5. Fresh faces: Right now, there are five true freshmen listed on the depth chart for this week’s game, and only one is a “starter.” Kicker Matt Wogan is listed to handle kickoffs and he has an “or” between his name and Alejandro Maldonado’s. But if the Ducks are up big early – which is expected – don’t be surprised to see running back Thomas Tyner get some carries and others such as right tackle Cameron Hunt or linebacker Tyrell Robinson could make appearances.
With the 19 players signed last week, Oregon landed some players who might remind their fans of former Ducks.

Thomas TynerCourtesy of Tiffany FiekenThomas Tyner is set to sign with Oregon despite late pushes from other schools.


Recruits, their families, coaches and football programs from around the country are holding their breath in hopes the right decision is made on national signing day. The truth is, no one knows what will happen between now and the time the pen hits the paper at high schools nationwide next Wednesday. What we do know is that both publicly and privately, the biggest decisions of recruits' lives are about to be made official.

For the Oregon Ducks, it appears as if their current commits are locked into the decisions they already have made. Now, the Ducks hope that their latest recruiting efforts provide a boost to an already strong class.

Here is where things stand for the Ducks and what their class might look like by the end of the day on Feb. 6.


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When rumors started flying about Mike Bellotti's impending departure, inside the Oregon program everything remained calm. Once Chip Kelly took over and had the immediate success that had other elite programs and NFL franchises sniffing around, the program braced for another change.

But once again, things remained calm on the inside while everything on the outside seemed to spiral out of control. Just like they did in 2009, the Ducks acted quickly and promoted from within to keep everything in place. Today the school announced that former offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich would become the Ducks' new coach.

And recruiting was one of the reasons.


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When reports surfaced earlier this month that Chip Kelly would be staying at Oregon instead of going to the NFL, Ducks recruits breathed a sigh of relief. All 13 commits confirmed they were still on board with Oregon despite the coaching uncertainty and were looking forward to playing for Kelly.

[+] EnlargeChip Kelly
Kyle Terada/US PresswireDespite reports he'd stay at Oregon, Chip Kelly is headed to the NFL.
But Wednesday morning's news that Kelly will be taking over as coach of the Philadelphia Eagles could throw things into flux for the nation's No. 21 recruiting class.


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With just three weeks to go until recruits from the class of 2013 are able to sign, things are as fluid as they ever have been with signing day approaching. The Oregon Ducks to this point have a small recruiting class, but their commitments all claim to be firm.

A look at the current Oregon commits, with the odds of them signing with the Ducks on signing day:

RB Thomas Tyner (Aloha, Ore./Aloha) -- 95%: The No. 54 player in the ESPN 150 is the Ducks' longest-standing commit. He decommitted in November -- for less than 24 hours -- after he informed the Ducks' staff that he wanted to visit UCLA. The U.S. Army All-American has caused Ducks' fans to bite their nails in the past, but he recently affirmed his commitment.

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After days of speculation, Oregon recruits were relieved to hear reports that coach Chip Kelly would be spurning the NFL to return to Eugene in 2013.

[+] EnlargeChip Kelly
Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesOregon's recruits are thrilled that Chip Kelly decided to pass on the NFL and return to the Ducks.
“Him staying just shows how tight of a family it is in Eugene, and I can’t wait to be a part of it,” kicker Matt Wogan (Indian Trail, N.C./Porter Ridge) said. “Just extremely happy to see everything stay the same.”

A year after turning down the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Kelly interviewed with the Cleveland Browns, Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles before deciding to remain at Oregon. He will return to a team that currently has the nation’s No. 22 recruiting class and is coming off another big BCS bowl win.

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Oregon commits chasing state titles 

December, 4, 2012
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Oregon's current crop of commits have all had outstanding senior seasons, proving why the Ducks pursued them so heavily early in the recruiting process. Two of the team's earliest commits face state championship play-in games this coming weekend.

In-state commits Thomas Tyner (Aloha, Ore./Aloha) and Evan Voeller (West Linn, Ore./West Linn) were the program's only two commits to have their seasons come to an end before the quarterfinals. K Matt Wogan (Indian Trail, NC/Porter Ridge) and his team lost a heartbreaker in the North Carolina 5A state championship game. They lost when North Bern (.N.C) High School scored a TD with less than a minute to go in the game.

Two commits, ATH Tyrell and WR Tyree Robinson (San Diego, Calif./Lincoln), led their team to the CIF San Diego Section Division III Championship. Due to three regular-season losses, Lincoln was not chosen to compete in the regional round of state championship play-in games. The twins did finish their high school football careers with a blowout win over Ramona (Calif.) High School.

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Oregon coaches hit the road 

December, 3, 2012
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Alvin KamaraRadi Nabulsi/ESPN.comThe Ducks coaching staff made the cross-country trek to Georgia last week to visit, among others, coveted ESPN 150 RB Alvin Kamara.

With a week off from practice, the assistant coaches for the Tostito's Fiesta Bowl-bound Oregon Ducks
hit the recruiting trail last week. In addition to visiting their current commits, the Ducks' coaches also visited their primary remaining targets for the Class of 2013.

They racked up the miles as they visited players in Oregon, Washington, California, Arizona, Texas, Georgia, Florida, Maryland, North Carolina, among others.

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The Ducks bounced back from a devastating loss to Stanford with a resounding victory over in-state rival Oregon State on Saturday. The Ducks' commits also had some resounding wins as high school playoffs around the country are approaching the state championship rounds.

Two versatile stars had their seasons -- and high school careers -- come to an end as their teams each lost to the No. 1 seed in their respective playoff brackets. On the flip side, two future Ducks put on a show, leading their team to a huge upset of the top seed in their bracket.

[+] EnlargeDontre Wilson
William Wilkerson/ESPN.comOregon-bound Dontre Wilson and DeSoto keep rolling in the Texas state playoffs.
Overall, the commits helped their teams to a 5-2 record in the latest round of the state playoffs. Two of them will lead their teams into state championship games next week.

Stars of the week
Darren Carrington Jr. (San Diego, Calif./Horizon)
The four-star wide receiver did everything he could to extend his high school football career, but it wasn't enough as Horizon fell to Santa Fe Christian (Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.), 49-35, in the San Diego Division V semifinals.

After being blown out the last time the two teams met, Horizon put Carrington at quarterback on Friday night, where he proved he really can do it all. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound wide receiver was 27-of-45 for 413 yards, a touchdown and a two-point conversion through the air. On the ground, the Semper Fi All-American rushed 24 times for 96 yards and four touchdowns.

Dontre Wilson (DeSoto, Texas, DeSoto)
Wilson once again led DeSoto to a blowout win as it continues to roll deeper into the 5A Texas playoffs. The No. 52 player in the ESPN 150 rushed 24 times for 204 yards and three scores on the ground. The 5-foot-10, 185-pound Wilson added a 46-yard TD reception as DeSoto rolled past Coppell (Texas), 42-14.

Honorable mention
Matt Wogan (Indian Trail, NC/Porter Ridge)
The nation's No. 4 kicker made all four of his extra points and hit two of three field goals to push Porter Ridge into the state championship game next week. Wogan hit a 51-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to help Porter Ridge get past North Davidson (N.C.), 34-27. Wogan did miss another 51-yard attempt, but his career-long 58-yarder in the second quarter gave Porter Ridge the lead for good.

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