Oregon’s loaded defense is going down to Georgia to take on the defending National Champion Bulldogs. Can the Ducks play the devil and give coach Dan Lanning a fiddle of gold with a win? Que the violin, folks — this game is going to be a barn burner!
Let’s skip the cookie cutter type game previews and dig into the key issues, impact players and matchups that are going to be key in this game. Additionally, we have links to five recent FishDuck articles that preview the 2022 Ducks defense that we recommend reading to get you up to speed for the season.
New Year, Same Goals, Same Road
Duck fans, the Dawgs aren’t going to be looking past Oregon or taking a shot at another Natty for granted. FishDuck member Nevada Dawg said, “One thing I can assure you is that Kirby and staff will be taking this game, and the Ducks every bit as seriously as they did with Clemson last September and will be trying to give their best shot on September 3.”
Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart knows Dan Lanning, and how he will build that same type of Georgia culture at Oregon and be looking to chase a Natty. Rest assured the UGA offense is keenly aware that Lanning’s Duck team is loaded like a top SEC team on defense. It will be interesting to watch the game plan and scheme Lanning implements against his former team.
This Will Be the Hardest Hitting Game of Week 1
Georgia will treat this as an SEC opener. They will respect Oregon, but will embrace them as an obstacle in the path to the Natty. The pads will be popping, and the battle in the trenches will set the tone for this game.
UGA’s Offensive Scheme
Georgia offensive coordinator Todd Monken is running a pro-style spread that’s run-heavy. Moken is suiting the offense to the strengths of his personnel — run first and then play action. He also has a tremendous feel when to work in deep shot passes where he can get one-on-one coverage out of play action.
Don’t Call Stenson Bennett a Game Manager
At this point, that statement is idiocy on display. QB Stenson Bennett’s yard per pass completion and passer rating was in league with the three dudes who were in New York for the Heisman award ceremony last year. Bennett had Heisman efficiency but lacked the Heisman production because the UGA offense is built off a run game that sets up play action.
The Georgia Run Game vs the Duck Defense is Key
The elite Georgia offensive line returns three starters along with two players with quality game experience last year. The starting group are all blue-chips; the three redshirt sophomores are all Top 60 dudes! Darnell Washington the 6’7, 270-lb tight end acts as another offensive linemen, blocking in the run game. Oregon is taking on a group of players who will all be NFL pros someday.
Last year’s top two backs are gone, but Kenny McIntosh is back. Behind him, Top 55 player Kendall Milton is the best in the room. The Dawgs want to establish the run game, stay ahead of the chains, wear on the Ducks defense and keep the Ducks offense off the field. That’s the Dawgs’ script for controlling the game, and it sets up their play action pass.
Oregon will want to control the line of scrimmage; they can’t get driven off the ball. They need to fit the run gaps on first down to form a wall and get Georgia behind the chains. The Ducks go six guys deep on the defensive line, led by first team All-Pac-12 selections Brandon Dorlus and Popo Aumavae. Washington star transfer Taki Taimani had 46 tackles last year, the third most in the conference for an interior lineman.
Ducks inside linebackers Justin Flowe and Noah Sewell were the N0. 1 and 2 rated linebackers in the 2020 class. The thunder and lightning pair will be tasked will filling the gaps and making the run stops. Along with hard hitting run stopping safety Bennett Williams, it may be best combo the Dawgs will see all season.
The Pass Rush
Oregon will get pressure on Bennett; this team has serious dudes on the front seven, and Lanning’s schemes that Mr. FishDuck wrote about here are too good! Look for Brady Swinson, who Mr. FishDuck wrote may be the Ducks’ next “sack master” and DJ Johnson to provide problems off both edges. In addition, Brandon Dorlus is a handful with his interior pass rush. The Dawgs will have to cope with all of them. Lanning’s blitz schemes will turn Flowe and Sewell loose in the Dawgs’ backfield.
Oregon’s defensive line depth should show up with fresh legs on the big men in the fourth quarter and the pass rush will be a huge Week 1 challenge for the Dawgs. This matchup is key. Mr. FishDuck wrote here how this may be Oregon’s best front seven ever. Lanning has the advantage of knowing how to game plan for the Dawgs with all the time he spent facing Monken’s offense in practice.
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UGA’s top receiver transferred to Bama, but the Dawgs have plenty of talent returning. But when we talk the pass game, the name to remember is tight end Brock Bowers who led the team with 56 catches for 882 yards and 13 TDs! Joining him in the best TE room in college football is five-star transfer Arik Gilbert.
The UGA receivers are good, but this isn’t the Ohio State receiver corps of last year by any means. It’s the elite tight ends that will pose a problem for Lanning. Look for Lanning to counter this key matchup against the UGA tight ends with his long safeties Bryan Addison, 6’5 and Trikweze Bridges, 6’3 with a seven-foot wingspan!
This will be an insane matchup of the best tight end group in FBS, against possibly the longest pair of safeties in FBS.
I expect Lanning will have something up his sleeve to defend the TE’s. Just spit balling: – on third and long we could see a nickel package with a twist most Duck fans wouldn’t expect. Sewell as the standup rush edge, converted safety Jeffrey Bassa at the inside backer, and Bridges up in man-to-man on Bowers.
It’s a nickel that plays towardsa dime, with Bassa the converted safety at linebacker. Sewell can get after the QB, but his instincts will find him pursuing plays that breakdown sideline to sideline. This would allow Bassa’s pass defense skills to impact the game while one of the long safeties can get physical with Bowers in coverage.
High Level Football
This game is going to have it going on! Plenty of first round NFL talent on display, and the key matchups the teams will attack with or have to counter. With the coaching matchup (Lanning – Smart) and the in-game adjustments, this game has it on every level.
I’ve written here the Ducks’ heavily experienced defense would be a top three in the SEC this year! I expect the Dawgs are going to struggle some against the loaded Ducks defense that will be employing Lanning’s brilliant schemes. This is going to be a tough Week 1 matchup for the UGA offensive line physically and mentally.
The 17-point spread in this game is ridiculous and completely overlooks the caliber of the Oregon defense. The only way this game will get close to the spread is if Bo Nix has two bad interceptions, one of them being a pick six.
What are your thoughts about the scheme matchup’s, impact players and the outcome of this game, Duck fans? Please share your thoughts in the OBD FORUM!
Top Photo by Eric Evans of GoDucks.com
Natalie Liebhaber, the FishDuck.com Volunteer Editor for this article, works in the financial technology industry in SLC, Utah.
I was born a Cali kid and my uncle is a USC Alum. Remember going to an SC game when I was like 5 with him. I moved to Oregon in 77 when I was 6 and became a Duck fan long ago. I remember Reggie Ogburn OB days, so it was before the Ducks got good. I’ve been a sports nut since I was a kid.
I went to Tigard High about the same time as linebacker Jeremy Asher did, and I watched him team with Rich Ruhl on the inside of the Gang Green defense.
Lots of Ducks memories, Danny O’Neil’s passing in 1st Rose Bowl, Kenny Wheaton, Joey’s comebacks early in his career and how jacked up he got!
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