We all remember the end of the Mario Cristobal Era. A promising season went off the rails with three blowout losses against AP Top-25 teams in the last four games. Even worse the second Utah loss appeared to show the coaching staff as unable to make adjustments, and lacking in the ability to coach our players up. Simply put; Our Beloved Ducks were not competitive against a Top-25 team.
Enter the Dan Lanning Era. We found that Lanning and his staff have turned this team around in just their third game. Our Ducks just weren’t competitive, they dismantled No.12 BYU. I can’t overemphasize how much credit should be given to this Oregon staff.
Cristobal teams were known best as being built around a strong offensive line, and he fielded some teams with good OLs. But we really have to ask if Cristóbal’s staff were getting the best out of the OL? Coach Adrian Klemm has fielded a unit that appears to be better than any unit we have watched in the last five years. This year’s OL led the way for the Ducks to post the highest yards per carry in a game that a Georgia team has given up since 2019. Just as impressive, Coach Klemm’s unit hasn’t allowed a sack in the first three games this year? The Oregon OL is truly elite under Coach Klemm.
OC Kenny Dillingham has brought his offensive scheme, and created the most explosive Ducks offense since the Gulf-Coast under Willie Taggart. Gone is the predictable Cristobal offense, and now Oregon has a scheme that spreads defenses out and attacks them in every part of the field. Dillingham has been using Oregon’s talented TEs to create a big impact, while he also has Bo Nix playing at the highest level of his career.
Dillingham’s balanced offense is also capable of focusing the attack with the run or pass game depending on the opponent’s weakness. Additionally the balance to the offense makes good defenses respect both the pass and run, making both more efficient.
Tosh Lupoi, the Ducks new DC along with HC Dan Lanning has remade the Ducks defensive scheme. After Georgia thrashed the Ducks defense, the coaches have identified areas of weakness and made a plan to improve the team. Time has been invested in the film room coaching up the back seven on pass coverage responsibilities. The coaches also have put the players through targeted drills to improve tackling, striking blockers and disengaging from blocks.
The result has been visible improvement in each of the last two weeks, such as seeing the edge defenders keeping outside leverage to the perimeter. Defensive backs are pursuing the plays faster after their reads than before. Defenders are approaching the blockers, striking them, standing them up and into the play. It is exciting to see the defense fight off the blocks, and use the correct technique in making open field tackles.
Dan Lanning and his staff have created a growth mindset environment that the players appear to be thriving in. Lanning is also playing the entire two deep on the depth chart, and this is giving all players the game experience to develop. This short-term sacrifice by Lanning is creating quality depth that will pay off as the season progresses, and when the current non-starting, but experienced players move into a starting roles next year.
Duck fans are being treated with watching week to week improvement, and pondering about how good these Ducks can be late in the year? We are watching Lanning’s staff do things with the former Cristobal players that simply did not happen last year. There is a swelling of optimism among the Duck faithful that the Lanning staff can get this Duck team playing up to the No. 7 in the nation roster talent level that it is.
It’s quite possible we are watching the best first year head coach in all of FBS!
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Bob Rodes, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is an IT analyst, software developer and amateur classical pianist in Manchester, Tennessee.
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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