UO looking for an "upgrade" after losing Marcus Arroyo to UNLV

Mario Cristobal is searching for the offensive version of Andy Avalos.

Oregon’s head coach is close to hiring a replacement for Marcus Arroyo, the program’s offensive coordinator the past two seasons who left to be UNLV’s head coach after the Rose Bowl.

Former Mississippi State head coach Joe Moorhead, LSU offensive analyst Jorge Munoz, Los Angeles Rams assistant Jedd Fisch and Tulane offensive coordinator Will Hall are believed to be the top candidates.

“I think every time you have a vacancy, and that relates to everyone in an organization, you always have the opportunity to upgrade,” Cristobal said Monday. “That’s not a dig or a shot at anybody because I think that our previous coordinator did a really nice job while he was here.

“But it’s just the nature of the industry. Every time you have a guy graduate and move on, you hope you’re recruiting well enough to replace him at the same level or better. You always want to get better.”

The Ducks were getting better on defense with Jim Leavitt in 2017 and 2018, but Cristobal decided to part company with the quirky coordinator after a 9-4 finish to his first season as head coach.

Under Avalos, who Cristobal lured away from Boise State to be his defensive coordinator, Oregon ranked ninth in points allowed (16.5 per game) and 22nd in yards allowed (329.1 per game) in 2019.

With a projected NFL first-round draft pick at quarterback (Justin Herbert) and an offensive line that included four senior starters and the Outland Trophy winner (Penei Sewell), the Ducks were 16th in scoring (35.4 points per game), 39th in yards (433.1 per game), 41st in passing (258.2 ypg) and 51st in rushing (174.9 ypg).

“We’re trying to head in a certain direction,” Cristobal said. “We feel good about the direction we’re going and it all points to us getting better.”

With the season college football season concluded following Monday’s national championship game between Clemson and LSU, Cristobal said his new offensive coordinator could be hired “within the week.”

Oregon’s players start the winter strength and conditioning program next week looking to build on a 12-2 finish that culminated with a Pac-12 championship and the 28-27 Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin.

“I don’t rush these things because when it’s right, it’s right,” Cristobal said. “The candidates are all outstanding. They all bring something to the table that makes us better.”

Seeing Redd

Wide receiver Jaylon Redd, who was conspicuously absent from the Rose Bowl despite practicing with the team throughout the week in Los Angeles leading up to the game, is back on campus and still part of the program.

“I know that he was having a personal matter and he has resumed practices and workouts with us,” Cristobal said. “That’s where it’s at.”

Redd had 50 receptions for 465 yards and seven touchdowns last season as a junior. True freshman Mycah Pittman started in his place in the Rose Bowl.

Early enrollees

Eight members of the 2020 recruiting class, including quarterback Jay Butterfield and five-star linebacker Noah Sewell, are already enrolled at UO and preparing for spring practice.

“It’s hard to match that type of an opportunity,” Cristobal said. “So we’re exited about them and for them.”

Offensive linemen T.J. Bass and Jonathan Denis, defensive linemen Jake Shipley and Bradyn Swinson and defensive backs JJ Greenfield and Bennett Williams are also getting a head start on the 2020 season.