It’s Spring…and Why I’m Excited for the Oregon Spring Game!

Mike Whitty Editorials

I’m the guy who, upon learning that Texas A&M was paying offensive lineman $50,000 each for NIL said: “That’s it, I’m through with college football.” You see, I don’t watch much NFL, (Justin Herbert excepted), because I think many of the players are not in great physical condition and that they take plays off.

I stayed away from for a while. Then I was able to pull Charles Fischer away from long enough for a chat about NIL. (Name, Image and Likeness Contracts) I agree with his philosophy that NIL will not have much impact this fall, if any. Also, most of the players will not be getting paid much, and some nothing. If any school is in a position to deal with NIL, the University of Oregon can handle it.

But, the real reasons I’m back and excited for the Oregon Spring Game is that I do not want to miss any of what’s in store for Our Beloved Ducks. And here’s what we have to get excited about:

Dan Lanning is a motivator. The word is out around Eugene that the players respect him, and what he is bringing to Oregon football. I listened to both of his post practice press conferences last evening on and I can see that respect is well-warranted.

This young defense is about to get much better via the Lanning system.

Asked whether the split schedule for practices was intentional, (Two before spring break, then two weeks off) Lanning explained that it was intentional, because it fit well with the academics. “Our guys have to be deliberate with their time.”

Everything is positive with Lanning. Even when referring to an injured player–he discussed how it allows the team to work other people into that position, and continue to improve. He said that experienced players are sharing their knowledge with one another, and with the younger players.

On position battles, he stated that the players get updated every day as to where they stand in the position room. “We’re evaluating them every day and give immediate feedback. They get that before practice, during practice and after practice.”

As to what he looks for during practice…“Efficiency is always No.1 for me. After last practice we said we need to be much better in our transitions. Today we did a better job at that. We’re picking a goal for each day where we can improve.” He also said he is making sure guys get enough reps every day at each spot they play, and making sure they are getting multiple spots. “We’re keeping track of their rep count.”

Jeffrey Bassa stuffs UCLA running back Brittain Brown on a key third down stop.

Asked about an inside linebacker Lanning responded, “there’s no such thing as a true ‘Mike’ backer anymore.” He also spelled out how a linebacker needs to have speed on the field from sideline to sideline. “He has to have the speed of a DB and the physicality of a linebacker. All good linebackers now days can run, and Jeff (Bassa) has that trait.”

Lanning told the media that during practices he moves from group to group, and afterwards from position room to position room. He is looking for places they can get better every day, and places where they can grow. He also is looking where he can also improve, writing down notes of what he needs to do, and keeping an open environment where other coaches can talk with him about how he can achieve that improvement.

During the break in practices the coaching staff will be focused on professional development, taking advantage of the knowledge the coaches have. Offensive coaches and defensive coaches will be working together across the ball. Also, the break provides an opportunity to be great husbands and great Dads. Coach Lanning was emphatic, “you don’t just talk about it, you gotta be about it.”

As to the offensive system–he said we need to tweak what the coaches are bringing from their past experience to fit the personnel. “Kenny (Dillingham) has a plan that he has mapped out with Junior (Adams) and the whole staff.” And, “I like the ability to run the ball, but we have to figure out what runs fit our scheme the best. Part of that professional development next week is what wrinkles can we add to make our system better.”

Truly, the best set of Oregon coaches interviews you will have ever heard. Inspiring.

The exciting thing about Lanning is that he has the coaching staff in place who can do this. If you missed the staff interview video with, then you will have to take my word for it when I say that Oregon has its best coaching staff, ever (This staff interview video is the best two hours you will spend concerning Oregon football…until the Spring Game)

I want to see the results at the Spring Game, and there are former “legend” players coming back to be honorary coaches. As written by Nate Krueger on

De’Anthony Thomas (offensive coordinator) and Haloti Ngata (defensive coordinator) will serve as honorary coaches for the Yellow team, while La’Michael James (OC) and Arik Armstead (DC) will return as honorary coaches for the Green team. Many other former players and alumni will also be back in Eugene for the Spring Game.”

So, I will be at Autzen on Saturday, April 23, to watch Our Beloved Ducks, past and present.

Mike Whitty   (Grandpa Duck)
Eugene, Oregon
Top Photo by Gary Breedlove

New 2024 FishDuck Publishing Schedule….

During the off-season the publishing schedule will consist of articles on Mondays and Tuesdays. Do keep checking as new articles could be published during the week when a writer has something to say.

In mid-August of 2024, we will go back to the seven-days-a-week of articles during the football season as we did in the football season of 2023.

The Our Beloved Ducks Forum (OBD) is where we we discuss the article above and many more topics, as it is so much easier in a message board format over there.  At the free OBD forum we will be posting Oregon Sports article links, the daily Press Releases from the Athletic Department and the news coming out every day.

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