HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — Since Justin Herbert put on an Oregon jersey in 2016, his Ducks have experienced monumental road struggles.
Oregon, since 2016, has a home record of 15-5, but once the Ducks leave Autzen stadium they are an abysmal 4-16 on the road. And this season slate of road games will not be any easier.
Herbert and Co. know that having a losing record the road won't lead to a championship, so it's time for a change or their season will stall once again.
The Ducks open their season against Auburn on neutral grounds in Arlington, Texas, and then play four daunting road games once conference play starts (Stanford, Washington, USC and Arizona State).
“The past couple years, Oregon hasn't been a great road team,” Herbert said. “That’s something that we're focused on and that we’d like to fix.”
The Ducks, for the second consecutive season, were selected as the team to win the Pac-12 North by the media, edging out rival Washington by one point.
Oregon, during the 2018 season, was proving the media correct through six games as it held a record of 5-1. Oregon, following its big rival win over No.7 Washington, climbed the polls to No.12, but then came its first true road test.
Oregon headed to Washington State into a hostile environment and against a team, who at the time, was the only one-loss team in the conference. Oregon was routed in the first half and its descent from grace began.
“The struggles on the road were monumental,” head coach Mario Cristobal said during Pac-12 media day. “Now understanding that, you know what, as this thing gets harder and you go deeper into it, especially when it goes into conference play on the road, the level of attention to detail and the shutting out of the outside world has to be at a level where there is no distraction.
Cirstobal began doing things differently to put his team in uncomfortable situations and environments. He’s taking his squad to local Sheldon High School, to Jesuit High School in Portland and to the Nike headquarters in Beaverton.
“I think it did a good number for us last year,” senior linebacker Troy Dye said. “I think we are going to do some more of that this fall camp, because we do have a lot of tough road games. We just got to be ready to go, have guys locked in, guys pack their lunches and we’ll be ready to go.”
Oregon has, potentially, all the keys to a successful season: an NFL caliber quarterback, a veteran defense, a top-10 recruiting class and for the first time in four seasons a second-year head coach.
If Oregon can be as successful on the road as it is at home, then the ceiling can be a national championship. To reach the next level the Ducks will need to fix their No.1 flaw or their season will end in more disappointment.
“We have a challenging road schedule and we have a lot of challenges on the road and it’s something that we know we have to improve upon because we haven't done a very good job at,” Cristobal said. “We’ve got to make sure that we are prepared mentally and have a mindset that’s a different level.”
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