Oregon head coach Dan Lanning

Oregon Football: Georgia Loss Won’t Define Lanning, Ducks

Jordan Ingram Editorials

For those still reeling from the Oregon Ducks’ 49-3 loss in Week 1 to the Georgia Bulldogs, let’s take a walk down memory lane.

The anticipation amongst Oregon fans heading into the 2009-10 football season was off the charts. Mike Bellotti’s successor, offensive wunderkind Chip Kelly, was set to debut his unabridged offense in Oregon’s season opener at then No. 14 Boise State. This was Kelly’s first year as head coach and fans were eager to see a fury of offense unleashed against the Broncos.

But instead of cruising to a victory, the Ducks’ offense sputtered and stalled, ultimately losing 19-8 to kickoff Kelly’s career. To make things worse, three-time Super Bowl winning running back LaGarrette Blount punched a Boise State player in the face after the game. Blount was suspended. Fans were distraught. A hurricane of doubt and questions swirled around Eugene, namely, was Kelly really the right guy for the job?

Over the next few months, however, circumstances and outlooks changed. The Ducks defeated No. 5 USC, won the Pac-10 outright and punched a ticket to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1995. Kelly became the first Pac-10 coach to win a conference title in his first season and was named coach of the year. Kelly lived up to his billing, catapulting Oregon into the national spotlight.

Oregon’s loss to Georgia in Week 1 does not define Ducks head coach Dan Lanning’s potential for greatness in Eugene. 

Fast forward to current Oregon head coach Dan Lanning. After the departure of former head coach Mario Cristobal, Oregon fans were truly excited to have a young, smart, talented coach and recruiter  — fresh off winning a national championship with the Georgia Bulldogs — take the helm for the Ducks. Lanning renewed hopes and dreams of bringing a national title to Eugene sooner rather than later.

But all of that excitement turned into frustration and bewilderment after the Ducks lost in spectacular fashion in their season opener against Georgia. Oregon looked overmatched against the reigning national champs. The offense, under former Auburn quarterback Bo Nix, was nonexistent. The defense appeared timid and ineffective. And once again, fans started to question whether or not hiring Lanning was the right decision.

The lesson here is the football season is a long one and shouldn’t be defined by a single loss against a VERY GOOD football team. There is plenty of time for Lanning to right the ship and put Oregon on a winning track.

For most of us, nothing less than a national title will satiate the hunger for greatness sparked under Kelly’s magical seasons in Eugene. Will the Ducks make the College Football Playoff? Who knows, but there is still much to play for this year. One game is NOT a yardstick to measure someone’s potential to bring Oregon to the promised land.

Don’t dismay. For the Ducks, Lanning is the right guy for the job.
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Nix by the Numbers: Nix struggled in the Ducks’ season-opening loss against Georgia, completing 21-of-37 pass attempts (56.8% completion rate) for a paltry 173 yards, two interceptions and no touchdowns. During his career at Auburn, Nix’s completion rate was similar to his debut performance for the Ducks: 57.6% (2019), 59.9% (2020) and 61% (2021). In three seasons for the Tigers, Nix threw for 39 touchdowns, 18 interceptions, 7,251 yards and had 50 sacks.

By comparison, former Ducks quarterback Justin Herbert threw for 76 touchdowns, 19 interceptions, and 8,605 yards during his last three seasons, including bowl games.

Nix was significantly better against Eastern Washington on Saturday at Autzen Stadium, completing 86.5% of his passes for 212 yards, four touchdowns and no turnovers (in three quarters) in the Ducks’ 70-14 walloping of the Eagles. Another positive note, both Ty Thompson and Jay Butterfield played some snaps in the fourth quarter after the Ducks had the game in hand.

Jordan Ingram
San Diego, California
Top photo by Tom Corno

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