Mario Cristobal wants the Ducks to treat Saturday’s game at California as a business trip.
Oregon’s football coach also wants to see his players from the Golden State have a chance to spend a little time greeting their families in the stands at Memorial Coliseum before boarding the charter flight back to Eugene.
That could take a while for Cyrus Habibi-Likio, who is from Mountain View, Calif., and will have a large contingent of familiar faces cheering him on in nearby Berkeley.
The redshirt freshman running back talked this week about his return to the Bay Area and bouncing back from the tough 38-31 overtime loss to Stanford:
Question: How much support will you have this weekend and what’s that going to be like going back home?
Answer: Growing up I’ve always had a lot of support, a lot of family and friends, cousins, I’ve got a huge family. So I’m excited. I think we bought out a whole section, maybe two sections, I don’t know. Actually Cal, their ticket office, called me randomly. I guess they knew for some reason. I actually have a cousin on the coaching staff that helps out with recruiting, so I think he let them know. I’m excited to perform in, not my hometown, but my home area in front of all my family.
Question: How many tickets did your family get?
Answer: My mom said 150, but there’s more people coming, so around 200, 230, something like that. A whole wedding.
Question: So it could be loud if you score then?
Answer: I’d love to score at home, that’s always been a dream of mine. So yeah.
Question: Have you been able to shake off the Stanford game like Cristobal wants?
Answer: After the game I was frustrated. We’re all passionate about this game and our team. We know what we can do and what we’re capable of. It was heartbreaking to end up like that, but we flushed it and came back the next day and actually had a really positive practice on that Sunday. I mean, still when I see replays on TV and stuff I’m like, ‘Ahh!’ It’s always going to kind of be there in the back of my head, but I flushed it and I’m excited to get back after Cal.
Question: CJ Verdell had the costly fumble late. How was CJ after the game?
Answer: He was frustrated but he played a really good game. He ran hard. Of course he has passion, he just loves the game and he was upset. But we all came together as a running back group and lifted each other up. We all could have done better in some areas. So that’s all of us. We take that as a group.
Question: Were you able to take some positives out of the game after watching the film?
Answer: Definitely. They’re a great team, props to them, but like Cristobal said, 90 percent of the game we were doing really well. It was just cool to see what we were capable of and how well our offensive linemen can do against a really good defense, a disciplined defense. It was awesome to see the backs get after it, too.
Question: What is Cal’s defense like?
Answer: (Nose guard) Chris Palmer is really good, a friend of mine, big D-lineman, zero (technique). Kind of like Fat Mac (Oregon nose guard Jordon Scott), just a big body, causes a lot of havoc. They also have some beefy linebackers. It will be interesting, it will be fun to see in the passing game going up against them. Their DBs are pretty active, some height to them kind of like Stanford. I think our receivers will do just fine against them.
Question: Jordon was in the backfield to block for you on the first-and-goal play where you fumbled. Did you feel like it would have been wide open for an easy touchdown?
Answer: Yeah, it was wide open. We went over film and we watched it and we corrected it. I think we’re still going to run that. That one time is not going to define us. It was a sliding dive play and it was kind of fast. We kind of didn’t run it super full speed all week. I’ll take the blame for that, I should have created a bigger pocket. It’s fine. We’ll run it again and next time guaranteed we’ll get in there.
Question: Was it nice that they trusted you later in the game on your touchdown run?
Answer: It was nice, kind of a little redemption. Cristobal told me, just shake it off, we’ve got a lot of game to play, and when we get back down there you’re going back in. So I shook it off, talked to my guys in the group. They were all supportive, so it was nice. No one turned their back on me or (Justin) Herbert.