Oregon fans rejoice! The day has finally come where we can happily wave goodbye to the offseason and welcome Oregon football back into our lives. The Ducks open their 2016-17 campaign at home against the Aggies of UC Davis today at 2 p.m. PT.
Here’s everything you need to know about today’s football action:
Week 1 — No. 24 Oregon Ducks vs. UC Davis Aggies
Date: Saturday, September 3, 2016
Time: 2 p.m. PT
Place: Autzen Stadium (Eugene, Ore.)
TV: Pac-12 Network
Radio: 590AM (Eugene); 750AM/102.9FM (Portland)
Online Radio: Oregon IMG Sports Network;
Kickoff Weather: Sunny, 69°
If you’re actually going to the game, yellow’s the color to wear. Mark your calendars…
At A Glance
Oregon (2015-16 record: 9-4 overall, 7-2 Pac-12) — This new-look squad saw major changes to both the offensive and defensive ends since the last time it took the field… Head coach Mark Helfrich uprooted the defensive staff, adding Brady Hoke (former head coach at Michigan) to the mix as the defensive coordinator. Hoke has instilled a 4-3 defensive scheme into the system, which is something to watch for… On the offensive end, graduate transfer Dakota Prukop won the quarterback battle and will get the start for the Ducks. Prukop comes from Montana State University, where he totaled 7,327 yards of total offense, fourth most in school history, over his four-year career. He rushed for 24 touchdowns and threw for 46 over during his time at MSU. The Ducks are no strangers to graduate transfer starters. A year ago, quarterback Vernon Adams faced his former squad in the season opener, handing Eastern Washington a 61-42 loss after completing 19-of-25 passes for 246 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 94 yards on 14 carries… Oregon ended last season with momentum, winning six straight before falling in triple overtime to TCU in the Alamo Bowl.
UC Davis (2015-16 record: 2-9 overall, 2-6 Big Sky Conference) — Although the Ducks are heavily favorited to take this one, UC Davis has experience on its side, returning 22 starters from last season. Among those returners are fullback Derek Baljeu, running back Joshua Kelley and wide receiver Chris Martin, who all earned All-Big Sky honorable mentions last season. With that said, the Aggies haven’t beaten an FBS opponent since 2010. The Aggies’ most recent win came in their season finale in November when they beat Sacramento State on the road, 35-21, to halt a four-game skid.
Familiar Foes: Oregon and UC Davis football have never faced each other… at least not directly. Prukop played against UC Davis when he was at Montana State, handing the Aggies a 77-37 blowout loss on Oct. 11, 2014. The then-sophomore completed 17-of-22 passes for 361 yards and four touchdowns, while rushing for 148 yards on 14 carries and two touchdowns.
Team Ties: Prukop isn’t the only one with former ties to the other side. Fourth-year UC Davis head coach coach Ron Gould was a defensive back for the Ducks (class of 1988) before serving as a graduate assistant on the team until 1991.
In Their Words
Below, you’ll find interviews from Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich and starting quarterback Dakota Prukop.
“Your first game in general,” head coach Mark Helfrich said, “whether you're the New England Patriots or anybody else, you’re going to run five percent or less of what you have in your offense just by virtue of the newness of the principles, quarterback and a few other spots where you're going to play to their strengths and play to our strengths and then get guys as confident as possible in what we’re doing. I have no idea what the exact percentage is, but it’s low for anybody.”
“This is the most excited I’ve ever been for a season, and I’m really excited to go out and play in Autzen” quarterback Dakota Prukop said. “I don’t know if it’s because I’m older now, but I kind of have this calming confidence. I don’t feel any hype about game week or anything because fall camp and the transition into practice, it all kind of feels the same. It feels normal.”