Oregon Ducks have first bowl practice under new head coach Mario - KPTV - FOX 12

Oregon Ducks have first bowl practice under new head coach Mario Cristobal

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EUGENE, OR (KPTV) -

After one season as offensive line coach at the University of Oregon under Willie Taggart, Mario Cristobal earned the promotion to head coach and a five-year contract set to pay him $2.5 million annually.

On Saturday morning, the 47-year-old second-time head coach from Miami led his new team in Eugene for bowl practice number one.

Day two on the job, day one of the field for Cristobal.

"It's kind of the same day, I haven't gone to bed yet," said Cristobal. "I think Christmas Eve we'll get a good night sleep. We'll be OK."

Cristobal and the Ducks have started a new life after Taggart.

"It sucked for Taggart to leave but I wish him the best," redshirt sophomore tight end Jacob Breeland said. "He is chasing his dream so we're just excited, I feel better now. I don't know how to explain it but it just feels good."

No. 25 Boise State awaits the Ducks Saturday in Las Vegas for the program's first bowl game in two years.

"It's going to be a great opportunity to get out there with Coach Cristobal and I am sure that people are going to be fired up," said quarterback Justin Herbert.

A victory over BSU would double Oregon's output from a season ago and springboard the Ducks towards spring ball with a gaze into the crystal ball of the Cristobal era.

"We work with each other. That is just my upbringing. My dad, may he rest in peace, he was huge on that. That's part of the DNA. I think that helps us and it's genuine so we are going to roll in that manner," said Cristobal.

As for which assistants stick with Cristobal or follow Taggart to Tallahassee? People won't know until after the Las Vegas Bowl.

Senior running back Royce Freeman will soon run on Sundays in the NFL and may have already buckled up his chin strap one final time as a Duck.

"We will certainly sit down and talk about it and come to a decision that is best for him and for the program," said Cristobal.

Using the hashtag #cristobALLIN, players petitioned and campaigned for their choice of head coach. 

Players weren't the only ones showing their support for Cristobal. Former Miami teammate Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson tweeted that tapping Cristobal as head coach was a "phenomenal choice."

"I am still sore from those battles with that big son of a gun. I am going to tell him the sideline pass is reserved and to send me his workout program," Cristobal said.

Cristobal's time at University of Miami helped shape the way he coaches today.

"We are a very tight family down there as players, and I always tell people, I want the experience that I had, I want the players here to experience that," said Cristobal. "That was the greatest time, aside from getting married and having my kids, that's the greatest time of my life and I want others to experience it. It's a game-changer, it's a life-changer so I want that for them."

The Las Vegas Bowl will kickoff Saturday at 12:30 p.m.

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