The Oregon Ducks passed a huge test last weekend at Autzen Stadium.
With a lot of doubt surrounding them, Dan Lanning and his squad welcomed the No. 14 BYU Cougars to Eugene and laid the smack down, winning 41-20. There’s no time to rest on their laurels, though, with the Ducks heading off to Pullman, Washington this weekend to take on a pesky Washington State squad that dares you to look past them.
That certainly won’t be a problem for Oregon, who saw the Cougars’ win on the road vs. No. 19 Wisconsin Badgers a couple of weeks back and knows that they will have a tough game on their hands. Lanning met with media members on Wednesday afternoon to preview that matchup and give an idea of where the health of the team stands. Here are some of the most notable quotes from that interview.
Lanning: (It was a) good day today. (We worked on) third down red area. Obviously Washington State, especially on defense, presents a lot of challenges with their presentation on third downs and some exotic pressures. So (it was) good for us to get a look at those early and then they do a good job really within the perimeter game on offense and extending plays with their quarterback play. So a lot of our focus today is still really at the end of the day focusing on fundamentals for us and what we can improve on.
On practicing pressure kickoffs
Lanning: We’re just trying to create some moments for our guys in practice that are similar to games and we want to be more consistent with our placement in case we’re going to try to be creative and creating those moments in practice. We’ve done some pressure situations before. I’s probably the first time I guess you guys (the media) were out there for it.
On preparing for a quarterback with limited film
Lanning: He’s a good quarterback. Good football is good football and he’s got a fast delivery. And we’ve talked as a defensive staff that he’s like a shortstop at times with the way he’s able to get the ball out really quick. But no, good play is good play.
On the environment in the Palouse
Lanning: I’ve been up there once when I was a graduate assistant at Arizona State. I know they’re passionate fans. I think that every one of us knows that. We’ve talked about the false starts that their environment can create and some of the stuff that they’ve done in the history of their program there. So it’s a good environment. We all know that.
On comparing Pullman to Starkville, Miss with the cowbells
Lanning: I don’t know. It’s been so long since I’ve been there. But again, I do think it’s a unique atmosphere. But yeah, that might be a fair comparison. We’ve practiced with a lot of crowd noise you know, making ourselves communicate a little bit earlier in that process. But that’s been part of what we’ve done this week.
On having two punt returners on the field
Lanning: There’s a lot of different thoughts. One, they have to have a plan for it. Also, it’s a chance for us to put dynamic playmakers on the field and create, possibly, explosive returns if we get the opportunity. But it’s game plan oriented.
On WSU's receivers
Lanning: You know, the one thing is they’re big, especially on the outside where they are 6-3. They’ve got good size and they use them well on the perimeter. They really create run plays with their parameter passing game with the way they block and the way they attack on the edge. So that’d be a good challenge for us
On linebacker Keith Brown's playing time increasing
Lanning: I think he’s been telling you he practices really well and he got some opportunities because he practices really well and carried over. He’s a player, a young player that’s growing and growing, and as he continues to grow in practice and game experience, he’ll continue to grow in his role.
On the line deflecting passes to counter the quick throws
Lanning: That’s another way to impact. I think it’s important in games like this. When the ball is getting spread out quick. That’s really important. I think we can improve there but we’re certainly working on it, and it’s showing up in practice. So if it shows up in practice, it’s going to show up in the game.
On his personal growth as a first-year head coach
Lanning: It’s probably too early to evaluate. I still have a lot of opportunities to grow. Certainly not satisfied with where I’m at right now. I can continue to get better.
On the corners
Lanning: Competition, right? They’ve gone out there each day. They’re looking to play balls when they’re in the air, being tighter in coverage at the finish. You see that at times and you see it not there at times right looking for some consistency in that.