By Ryan Thorburn

The (Eugene) Register-Guard

Next up

Oregon at No. 12 Washington

When: 7 p.m. Friday

TV: FS1 Line: Huskies by 21

EUGENE — Justin Herbert’s return to practice gave the Oregon Ducks an emotional lift.

But is there enough milk in UO’s Hatfield-Dowlin Complex cafeteria to get the starting quarterback healthy enough to boost the chances of upsetting No. 12 Washington on Saturday night at Husky Stadium?

“I’m not sure,” coach Willie Taggart said. “He’s been drinking a lot and he’s getting better. Look, we’re going to put Justin out there when we feel like he’s ready to go and we’re not going to do anything to jeopardize him.

“If he’s ready this week we’ll play him, and if not then we won’t. We’re going to continue to practice him and let him continue to get better, but we’re not going to put him out there in harm’s way and let him re-injure himself. I don’t know how much milk that’s going to take but he’s been drinking it and it’s been helping and he’s been healing really quick.”

Herbert suffered a fractured collarbone while rushing for a touchdown Sept. 30 against California. Oregon (5-4, 2-4 Pac-12) lost its next three games with Braxton Burmeister filling in, but the true freshman completed 9 of 12 passes for 47 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions this past Saturday in the 41-20 victory over Utah.

After the loss at UCLA the previous week, Taggart designed a film study to stop any finger-pointing in the locker room aimed at Burmeister.

“I had a sense that everything was pointed toward Braxton as to why we weren’t winning. And that wasn’t the case,” Taggart said. “We weren’t winning because we weren’t playing as well as a team. I wanted to show our guys.”

In five starts, Herbert completed 68.3 percent of his passes for 1,264 yards with nine touchdowns and two interceptions. In five games, Burmeister has completed 57.1 percent of his passes for 293 yards with two touchdowns and five interceptions.

Taggart-to-Florida rumors

Willie Taggart has a lot to chomp on this week.

Oregon’s first-year coach said the to-do list does not include considering an opportunity to leave for the University of Florida.

Taggart has already been mentioned as a possible candidate to replace Jim McElwain, who is out at Florida after compiling a 22-12 record with the Gators.

Darren Heitner, a Florida attorney and sports agent with ties to the school, reported Monday that Taggart was “now a real possibility” for the Gators and had been contacted about the job.

“I have not been contacted by anyone,” Taggart said Monday. “The only (athletic director) I have been contacted by is ­(Oregon’s) Rob Mullens, and I love that guy.”

Mullens fired Mark Helfrich at Ducks coach after last year’s 4-8 finish and hired Taggart away from South Florida on Dec. 7, 2016.

According to the terms of Taggart’s five-year contract with Oregon, he must provide Mullens with written or verbal notice prior to meeting with representatives from another entity to discuss employment opportunities.

“I am committed to the University of Oregon and focused on Washington, a big-time game for us this week,” Taggart said. “I asked our players and coaches to be focused and committed to that, and that’s what I’m committed to as well.”