Oregon’s first major injury of the season came at perhaps its deepest position.
Starting tight end Cam McCormick will miss the rest of the season after he broke a bone in his leg during Saturday’s 58-24 win over Bowling Green.
“He will be sorely missed not only as a player, but as a teammate,” UO coach Mario Cristobal said Monday. “The guys love him. The hospital was a packed place in support of him with coaches and teammates.”
McCormick was one of the surprise winners of a position battle during fall camp when he beat out junior Jacob Breeland for the starting spot. The 6-foot-5, 253-pound sophomore had one catch before his season came to an end.
McCormick missed almost all of his senior season at Summit High School in 2015 after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament. He sat out a redshirt year at Oregon before catching six passes for 89 yards and a touchdown last season.
Breeland, who led Oregon with five touchdown receptions last season while catching 18 passes for 320 yards, will move back into the starting lineup when No. 24 Oregon (1-0) hosts Portland State (0-1) on at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Junior Ryan Bay and senior transfer Kano Dillon are listed as Breeland’s backups. Oregon also expects to play true freshman Spencer Webb, who did not take the field against Bowling Green.
“We plan on playing all those guys,” Cristobal said. “Jake has always been a good player for us and really has improved in the run game, and he’s looking to get even better. Kano got in there and made a nice play on a third-down conversion. Ryan Bay is a guy that cannot be overlooked, he had a tremendous camp. … Spencer Webb is coming along real well, he’s still developing as a blocker, but we feel like he could help us in the pass game so that is on the table as well.”
The 6-5, 256-pound Dillon had 28 catches for 499 yards and four scores in three years at South Florida before transferring for his final season. He had a six-yard reception against Bowling Green. Bay has two career catches.
Oregon linebacker La’Mar Winston and Deommodore Lenoir each left Saturday’s game to be monitored for a concussion. They are both listed as starters against the Vikings.
“Lamar and Deommodore are both being checked out,” Cristobal said. “They had strong collisions and our protocol for that is very strict and regimented.”
Kicker Adam Stack did not play against Bowling Green due to injury, but is once again on top of the depth chart for the Ducks.
Oregon will likely have the opportunity to go deep down the depth chart as a heavy favorite against Portland State, an FCS program that opened with a 72-19 loss at Nevada on Saturday after going winless last season.
Cristobal’s message to his team is to maintain focus no matter the opponent.
“The truth of the matter is we had some really good plays on Saturday, but also some not so great plays we can improve upon," he said. “For us to be the team we talked about and trained since January to become, it all relates to how we approach it ourselves. How we make our decisions to improve ourselves because nothing that showed up on tape is not correctable. There is nothing that showed up Saturday that we can’t take to a higher standard. It always starts and ends with that regardless of the opponent.”
PSU defeated Washington State during coach Bruce Barnum’s first year in 2015 when the Vikings reached the FCS playoffs. Portland State has lost 20 of 23 games since that season.
The Vikings took a 9-0 lead against Nevada and trailed 30-19 at halftime before being outscored 42-0 in the second half.
“It is easy to get online and see that they beat Washington State and North Texas,” Cristobal said. “Last year, Oregon State needed a last drive to score and win that game. Their head coach is calling plays once again and when he was doing that before, they had good teams and that showed in how they moved the ball Saturday.”
Cristobal said new PSU defensive coordinator Payam Saadat brings a new look for the Ducks.
“We are about to see the flex-stack defense scheme that we’ve never seen or practiced against,” Cristobal said. “Even though they gave up some big plays, they made a lot of big plays. They were up 9-0 early by creating chaos and causing confusion at the line of scrimmage and creating negative plays.”