Finally! Ducks football is back! All offseason questions about Our Beloved Ducks will be answered in less than 24 hours, and it couldn’t be a more exciting matchup.
To start the 2022 season, Oregon is touching down in Georgia to try to knock off last year’s national champions this Saturday. How they play through this 60-minute in Athens should tell us a ton about what kind of culture Dan Lanning has created, how the new additions to our program size up, and what our offseason has amounted to.
Now, let’s keep in mind that one game doesn’t decide a season, and it also doesn’t determine the value of a program’s new coaching staff. But after nine months since the Alamo Bowl, Oregon’s football program already has a completely different feel to it, which has led to a bit of uncertainty about what to expect in our tough first matchup of the year.
Here are some of the most crucial questions that will be answered throughout the game when our Ducks suit up against the ‘Dogs tomorrow.
1. How Will Our Ducks Perform In the Trenches Throughout 2022?
Football games are won at the line of scrimmage. Luckily for Oregon, a ton of Georgia’s defensive line depth has moved onto the pros (15 total players left Georgia’s roster this offseason for the NFL). However, they’re still a loaded program that has recruited well for the position group in the last few years. Oregon must establish dominance in the offensive trenches first before we can even think about winning the game.
Grab some early success on the ground, and hopefully, starting quarterback Bo Nix can start taking the top off the defense. Then, we can get the Bulldogs on their heels and start applying pressure defensively.
As for Oregon’s defensive line, new faces are going to need to step up. Kayvon Thibodeaux will be dearly missed, but his absence leaves space for new stars to prosper. My contention is that we’ll see a ton of Washington transfer Taki Taimani and Brandon Dorlus clogging up the run game (backed by star linebackers Noah Sewell and Justin Flowe, of course). Hopefully, this will force the ‘Dogs to become more one-dimensional and allow the Ducks’ pass rushers to pin their ears back and get after the quarterback.
Success in the trenches will bode well for the landscape of Oregon’s entire 2022 schedule. Additionally, it’ll open the door for a new set of star playmakers to emerge.
2. Who Will Step Up as the New Go-To Playmaker In Oregon’s Offense?
Travis Dye has moved down south, and Nix was 0-3 against the Bulldogs while at Auburn. As the new leader of Oregon’s offense, Nix is going to need all the help he can get from his playmakers.
Fortunately for him, there are a ton of breakout candidates for this season. Look for him to establish a rapport quickly with some of our returning starters in Dont’e Thornton and Troy Franklin. With a savvy veteran in Nix, I expect some pop-plays in the passing game, even if it is against the highly touted Bulldogs defense on opening day.
But overall, I expect Seven McGee to be the Duck that takes over this game.
His skill set is the perfect combination of shiftiness in the backfield and playmaking out of the slot to be a big-time contributor from the first snap on. If he can get on the board early, expect a game that comes down to the wire with the Bulldogs.
Establishing this go-to playmaker as early in the season as possible is going to be crucial for Nix and this offense to start clicking. Let’s hope McGee, Byron Cardwell, Thornton, Franklin, or the host of other talented Ducks on this roster are able to set themselves apart as the magic-maker in Athens tomorrow.
3. How Will Head Coach Dan Lanning’s Presence Make an Impact on the Sideline?
Given the circumstances of our season opener, I feel Lanning’s presence on the sideline is going to have to be exceptional for Our Beloved Ducks to come out on top. Keep the energy high, make adjustments when necessary, and handle adversity well. Lanning has given me zero reason to doubt he’s able to accomplish these tasks, and I believe he’ll bring our Ducks out swinging to get a jump on his old team.
The Dan Lanning Era Begins Now
Tomorrow, I expect a highly competitive, exciting finish to the season opener in Athens. If Oregon can come out on top, expect a magical season ahead.
Let’s see how the trenches play out, who leaps off our screen on offense, and how Lanning takes control of the sideline as Oregon’s new frontman.
With Marcus Mariota as an honorary captain, boy would it be great to beat the ‘Dogs on their own turf. Go Ducks!
Los Angeles, California
Top Photo From: Fox Sports Twitter
Alex Heining is an Oregon alumni from the graduate class of 2021. After studying sports business and media studies, he has moved into the field of digital marketing as a copywriter and content manager in the Los Angeles area. Still, he loves his Ducks and goes to local high school games all over the Los Angeles and Orange County area to check out new recruits of the future (and a SoFi game or two with the pros). On any given Saturday, expect to find him doing martial arts, playing the guitar, or screaming at the tv over a missed holding penalty.
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