Dan Lanning previews Utah matchup, stresses continued improvement after latest win

There was a lot to like for Dan Lanning and the Oregon Ducks as they racked up almost 250 rushing yards in a decisive 38-24 win over the Washington State Cougars on Saturday, but a lot to improve on as well.

That’s the message from Lanning to his team, and the Ducks once again prepare for a big-time matchup, this week against the No. 13 Utah Utes down in Salt Lake City. It’s another game that will draw massive sets of eyes to Oregon’s program, with ESPN’s ‘College GameDay’ in town to feature the matchup.

On Monday night, Lanning held his weekly press conference to wrap up the win over Washington State and preview the upcoming game. Here are some of the most notable quotes from that presser:

Opening Statement

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Lanning: “A fun one on Saturday. Got an opportunity to get with our guys today and work some of the cleanup that we saw in the game. But obviously really excited about this next one guys came ready to work today and this is gonna be a fun opponent. A really good team, extremely well coached. They’ve done a phenomenal job of utilizing their personnel and have some really talented players on their team. So it’s gonna be fun for us to go out there and play them.”

Things Learned

(Photo Courtesy of Ethan Landa)

Question: What do you feel like you learned about your team on Saturday?

Lanning: “I don’t know if there’s necessarily one thing in particular, other than those guys really love each other. I think that showed up in multiple opportunities. When these guys had success, they’re celebrating with each other, but that’s something I’ve really already known.”

Jestin Jacobs

Question: After watching the film, what do you think of the production that Jestin Jacobs had during his debut?

Lanning: “Jestin’s really, he’s a good player. He’s really physical. I think he’s a hard person to block. He’s really talented in the box. Just having him back with our team for a guy that’s worked so hard to put himself in a position to be back. It was great to have him out there certainly makes us better when we’re able to utilize him.”

Kyle Whittingham

Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Question: How do you put into perspective what Kyle Whittingham has been able to do with so many injuries on the roster so far this year?

Lanning: “The amount of injuries that they’ve dealt with and for him to be able to utilize defensive personnel on offense and shuffle positions and utilize offensive linemen at tight end and I think it’s just really impressive. You know, everyone’s always known that he’s a great coach, but the way that he’s been able and his staffs been able to utilize the people they have, you know, I know the beginning the year he spoke about the depth of his team, it’s starting to really show up. He has good depth, but they’re utilizing people in different ways than they anticipated when the year started and he’s done a great job coaching that group.”

Pass Rush Depth

Question: You have 16 different players with a sack this year, what does that say about the depth that you have on this defensive line when it comes to getting the pass rush?

Lanning: “Well, we will always want to get better, right? I think we have a lot of good players that can play and I think that’s starting to show up. Probably showed up more last week then it has so far this season, but when you have a lot of talented players that can play at a high level you want to utilize them. But if you tell me I can have more than I’m gonna go try to get more.”

Scouting Sione Vaki

Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Question: How hard is it to scout someone like Utah’s Sione Vaki with him having so little game tape at the RB position but excelling there in the past couple of weeks?

Lanning: “Not hard. He’s really good. You just watch what he’s done when he’s been in. He’s a really good player. And again, they’ve used him in a lot of different ways. So I expect to see him on both sides of the ball. But you know, they’re talented and they’re able to use those guys well.”

Bryson Barnes

Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

Question: What have you seen from Bryson Barnes so far this year?

Lanning: “I think he’s getting more and more comfortable each week. What you appreciate, as a football guy, watching him play, the guy plays tough. I mean, he’s fighting for hard yards there at the end of the game to put their team in position. When he took some big hits and he got up and kept playing. And he’s impressive. You know, like I said, he’s dangerous as a runner. He’s done a good job of passing the ball. He’s gotten more efficient each week. And you know that they do a great job putting him in position and using his talents.”

Salt Lake City

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Question: Utah is not an easy place to play, what do you expect from this environment, especially with College GameDay in town?

Lanning: “I think it’ll be a great environment. You know, I know that they get loud there. I know that they love their team. So it should be a lot of fun for us. I think that speaks you know, obviously, to the job that Utah has done this year and the job that we’ve done this year to put ourselves in that position to have GameDay there.”

Gary Bryant Jr.

(Photo Courtesy of Ethan Landa)

Question: It’s been a quiet couple of games for Gary Bryant Jr. Is that part of the game plan or simply happenstance?

Lanning: “He’s running routes and sometimes he’s covered. We utilized him the second play of the game with the reverse. I know we’d love to get him the ball but sometimes when guys are covering you, you don’t always get the ball.”

Evan Williams

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Question: What have you seen from Evan Williams over the last few weeks as he continues to excel?

Lanning: “Well, probably just that. I mean, he’s proven that he can be a guy that can get people on the ground, right? He’s a physical player. We’ve been able to utilize in a lot of different ways. But he’s proven consistently that he can get guys on the ground, which is an important trait on defense.”

3rd Down Defense

(Photo Courtesy of Ethan Landa)

Question: What has led to the improved third-down defense this year and how much more room for improvement is there?

Lanning: “Yeah, plenty of room to improve. I think it’ll continue to be a challenge because really all it matters is the week that you’re in right now. Right? It’s not really about the last week, it’s not about the previous weeks. We’ve executed better. I think we’ve made some things simple too for our players to you know, play at a high level. I think we’ve understood our opponents so far really well, but we’re going to continue to see some really tough opponents as things move forward. We’ll have to do a good job of handling that.”

Utah History

Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Question: You’ve only played Utah once, but there is some history between these two teams over the last decade. How much does that mean to you and this tea?

Lanning: “Well, this is certainly our biggest game because it’s the next game. Right? And again, like I said, this is a team that I have a lot of respect for and how they’ve operated and what they do. Utah will always be a footprint from a recruiting standpoint, we’d love to be able to go there and get the best and the brightest in our program, but this will be a fun game. I mean, this is one that our players will get excited about. Our fans will be excited. We want to go down there and do well against those guys.”

Camden Lewis

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Question: How do you balance being aggressive on 4th down and also wanting to build some confidence for Camden Lewis in the kicking game?

Lanning: “Do whichever one is the best for our team in that moment. Right? Pick the opportunity that makes the most sense for us.”

Story originally appeared on Ducks Wire