After Saturday afternoon’s game, the Oregon Ducks head coach was asked a tough question. His team had just beaten the No. 10 UCLA Bruins by a score of 45-30 and taken the undisputed first place in the Pac-12 conference. On top of that, he had just welcomed the greatest coach in Oregon history and given him a taste of his own medicine with a high-flying offense that couldn’t be stopped.
Lanning was asked to describe how good he felt in his position, as a first-year head coach finding unfounded success so early in Eugene.
As frequent readers expected, he quickly defected and gave credit to his players and coaching staff. High class through and through.
Whether he admits it or not, Saturday was a huge day for Lanning, who found his team back in the mix after a disastrous start, and could make things tough for the college football playoff committee. Here’s a rundown of all the notable things he had to say on Saturday following the win:
Lanning: “Wow. I had a pretty good feeling it was going to be an awesome day the minute I got out on the quad around 6am this morning and this place was packed. Our fans brought it from 4 o’clock in the morning or even from 1am last night until the very end of this game and they were absolutely a difference for us It was a complete victory for the team We changed the game in the units specials and we’ve been able to have some great momentum plays both offensively and defensively. When they score field goals and we trade them for touchdowns, that’s going to be the recipe for success. There’s definitely a lot about which we can improve. I don’t think anyone in our team is happy and that’s what gives this team a chance to be hungry and great. I’m really excited to get through to the next game, but we’re still going to enjoy this one.
What we learned
Question: What do you think you learned the most about your team on Saturday?
Lanning: “Membership. You always want that as a coach. At halftime we sat there and talked about how the more physical team was going to win this game. You look at the brand of football we played at the start of the half and coming out in the third quarter we said we were going to run the ball and be physical. We have a team that buys in, believes in what they do and that’s where you have a chance to really succeed.
The upside down kick
Question: What did you see in the 2nd quarter that made you comfortable with the kick in play?
Lanning: “I think some of you may have been in training earlier this week and I told you ‘Don’t tell anyone or I’ll never let you come back to training again’, okay , you saw us practice this and appreciate that you guys kept your lips sealed We knew this was something we wanted to do and we wanted to practice in pressure situations throughout the week We have had a few pressure kicks that we did early on. It was there, we saw it after the first kick and we thought that was the look we wanted. The second kick ‘sending, we thought it was there too. The third one was actually the worst look we’ve had and we still felt very confident. It looked like there was time coming and if there was a chance of stealing a possession, that would be before the time hit. Turns out the time is came, but we knew once we got the kick that we wanted to look for extra possession if we could because we weren’t going to get the ball back after half-time.
Question: What did you see from Bo Nix today that impressed you the most?
Lanning: “I don’t think anybody can sit here and watch football right now and watch our quarterback play and not tell me he’s an elite quarterback. This guy plays at an extremely high level and he makes big decisions for our team. He is an elite competitor, an elite leader, he has a phenomenal character, he throws the ball very well and makes good decisions. He is humble and I think everyone in our team is delighted with his success.
Good D, better O
Question: UCLA has arguably the best defense you’ve seen all year, how has your offense been so successful?
Lanning: “For us, the standard is the standard. You could ask those guys in the locker room before the game started who we’re playing against, and they’d say Oregon. Every week we compete against ourselves. I think it’s a very good football team that we have just faced, but the standard does not change depending on the team you play. Our offense performed at a very high level and I think it’s a credit to our offensive coaches and players for the work they put in over the week.
Bounce back in Georgia
Question: After such a tough loss in Week 1, how do you think your team was able to bounce back so well?
Lanning: “Growth mentality. Our players have a growth mentality. They know every week that there is an opportunity to improve. Just because we won this game doesn’t mean we’re not looking for an opportunity to “People know I’m going to say we’ll have to go to the doctor, and we’ll find what we can improve and go take our meds and get better. Our team has been doing that week in and week out.”
The 15 game player
Question: How important was this series of 15 games for you in the 3rd quarter?
Lanning: “It’s an explosive attack that we have just played. They are really difficult to defend, they are obviously very well trained. The best way to defend them is to keep them off the field. We wanted to have our attack on the field and there offense off the field. It’s a great example of our attack doing that, using the clock, being able to take advantage of possession time and move the ball up the pitch.
Dorian Thompson Robinson
Question: We knew DTR could hurt you with his legs – what did you do that you did so well to bottle it up tonight?
Lanning: “At the end of the day, we wanted to try and eliminate the one-on-one opportunities and we wanted to try and get some vision to be able to close and finish the game on him. Our guys did a really good job of executing when we had the chance. I’m not sure we had a sack in that game, but we contained it. He’s a really talented player and tough to beat. It wasn’t so much a matter of statistics for us to keep him going.
The O line
Question: Can you put into words the quality of your offensive line right now?
Lanning: “I’ll have to go back and watch the movie, but it’s a really cohesive unit. Kudos to our attacking staff and the work they did there, and those guys. We have some guys, top leaders, in this group who are like coaches on the pitch. They’re able to communicate the looks that they see every time they step off the pitch. If you were watching Alex Forsyth work when no one else didn’t work, you’d understand why that offensive line is the way it is. He’s over there practicing before practice and making calls. We’re at the chapel today and Alex is carrying the ball. I know the Lord appreciates that and so do the Ducks, they just work really hard and hard work pays off.
Question: What made Kenny Dillingham successful in Oregon?
Lanning: “He did a great job. Obviously, he’s a guy I’ve seen in this business for a long time. Not too long ago, Kenny Dillingham was a coach at Chaparral High School, sitting in the corner of staff meetings every day without saying a word. He’s grown so much as a coach and developed over time, and obviously he does a great job as a leader or as a team. I also think he would be the first to give credit to our quarterback who plays at a very high level and the players around him who do a very good job. Glad to see him have the success he has had.
Question: What makes Troy Franklin such a valuable target for Bo Nix?
Lanning: “You like guys who catch the ball and Troy catches the ball. He has a great catching radius and a lot of those catches you see on the field of play are the same ones we see in training. Troy is doing a great job, he’s grown as a player and I can’t wait to see him grow and continue to develop. I know we are only scratching the surface of what it can be.
First successes as head coach
Question: You are 6-1 and your team is playing as well as anyone. How does it feel to have such early success as a head coach?
Lanning: “I am delighted that our players are having success and I am delighted for the coaches. I am delighted for the university and for the people who support this university so much to see this success. I do not want to interfere. I am really excited to see our guys continue to grow. What I want is for us to play our best football at the end of the season. We’re not there yet, but we’re getting better every week and it’s that’s what excites me.