There is no shortage of things to talk about when covering the Oregon Ducks this week.
After a big win over the USC Trojans, Dan Lanning has had his name thrown into the news cycle with the opening of the head coaching job at Texas A&M, with the Oregon coach emerging as one of the leading candidates. Whether Lanning would ever take the job is a different story entirely, but the possibility has the college sports world buzzing, nonetheless.
On top of that, a great reunion is taking place this week with Oregon traveling down to Tempe to face Kenny Dillingham and the Arizona State Sun Devils. After his single year as the offensive coordinator in Eugene, Dillingham has been able to find some relative success with his alma mater.
On Monday night during his weekly press conference, Lanning met with media members to talk about all of those things, and look ahead to this game. Here are some of the most notable quotes from that conversation:
Lanning: “Fun game on Saturday. Was thrilled to see our players go out there and compete and you know didn’t quite finish it the way we wanted to. But I thought we were really good in all three phases of the game. Made some big time impact plays our fans were absolutely unbelievable. It was the loudest I’ve experienced Autzen and excited to experience that some more.”
Texas A&M Rumors
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Question: With your name popping up in connection to the Texas A&M job, what is your commitment level to Oregon?
Lanning: “I guess the reality here is one, my name and our program would never been a topic of conversation for another school if we didn’t have something here that everybody else wanted. And the reason we have something here that everybody else wants is because of what our players our coaches, the support that exists here in Oregon have created.
I think I’ve been really, really clear here since day one. Everything I want exists right here. I’m not going anywhere. There’s zero chance that I would be coaching somewhere else. I’ve got unfinished business here. There’s a lot that I want to accomplish here at Oregon. My number one priority is being elite here in Oregon, and we have the resources, the tools, anybody that can understand why you would want to be here this place doesn’t understand exactly what exists here, right?
Like what I’ve said before, with a 13 year old, a 12 year old and a 10 year old to be able to raise your family and a community like this, to be able to compete for championships and have the ability to get the resources you need. You know a lot of coaches hang on to these moments and they don’t do anything or don’t say anything, one because they don’t want egg on their face when they decide to do something else. Two, because they’re concerned about things that I’m not concerned about, like getting a better contract. I’m taken care of extremely well here in Oregon. I have the resources I need here at Oregon to be really really successful. I’m not motivated by that. I’m motivated by winning. I’m motivated by being elite here.”
Balancing Heisman and Winning
Question: With Bo getting so much attention for the Heisman Trophy, how do you balance that noise and wanting to prop him up while also focusing on the main thing, which is obviously winning?
Lanning: “Well, Bo’s earned that attention, and Bo would be the first one sitting up here to tell you that he’s earned that attention because of the things that his teammates have done. And the people around him have done. You know, he’s been elite for us since the moment he got here. He’s obviously a really dynamic and special player. He performed extremely well in every one of our games this year, there wasn’t a game that I don’t think he’s performed really, really well. But those things come to teams that are having a lot of success. I think you always go back and look at teams that have you know, Heisman winners, and they’ve they’ve done well throughout the season. They’ve been competing for an opportunity for championships within the year so if you made Bo pick what he could have, I promise you the first thing, he wants is a championship and we know that the rest will kind of take care of itself. But if you can’t watch his performance and recognize what he’s been able to do for this team, and what he means from a value and what he creates to the opponent, you’re not able to really watch college football with a clear lens.”
Fourth Quarter Improvement
Photo Courtesy of Ethan Landa
Question: What is your message to the team when it comes to improvement on fourth quarter play?
Lanning: “I mean, there’s a several things. One you’re playing team that is, you know, one of the best offensive in college football and one of the best players in college football. So you know that they’re never ever out of the fight. And when that happens, you got to be able to go finish and we did. We finished, but they had a spark. They had some life because we gave them some opportunities. So, whether it’s an untimely penalty, whether it’s not getting a fourth down, stop, and you have a chance, you know, I think some of those things showed up We talked about trying to play complete games, you know, we talked about that process of Good to Great we still have steps to make in that direction. We still have some progress that we can make there but our guys came in and attack the day I was really pleased with their progress today and what they want to do out there and accomplish. Excited to see how they attack tomorrow.”
Photo Courtesy of Ethan Landa
Question: Were Khyree Jackson, Jahlil Florence, and Dontae Manning able to practice on Monday?
Lanning: “Yeah, they all did and I definitely think they’ll be able to help us this week.”
Question: What have you made of the coaching job that Kenny Dillingham has done considering the number of players they are missing due to injury?
Lanning: “I think it’s clear that Kenny and his staff, they can think outside the box and they’re — Kenny’s similar to me, we’re both high school coaches before. When you have different personnel, you try to figure out how you can utilize them the most and try to create something that your opponent hasn’t prepared for. Obviously, he was able to put some things on film that other teams hadn’t prepared for, and I expect him to give us some of that too. It’s going to be about us being able to in game adjust, you know, have a great plan for what he goes out there to execute, but he’s trying to put his team in the best position that can win, and he had some success doing some unique things.”
Assessing Will Stein
Question: With over 30 points scored in every game this season, can you assess the job that Will Stein has done thus far?
Lanning: “I think Coach Stein has done an unbelievable job. Building what we already built here, you know, in a lot of ways, from a philosophy standpoint and what we wanted to be and how we wanted to play the brand of football we wanted to play but to add some wrinkles. He will be the first one to tell you that it’s not just him. It’s our offensive staff. It’s our players. And we have a really special culture here right now. And it’s been created certainly by our players as much as it has been our coaches, but Will’s done a great job of, you know, having eyes. I think he’s got a really good feel for the game, calling the game. Calling in sequence of the game, I think he’s done a really good job of listening to people around him because he has some elite coaches on that side of the ball that can share their thoughts. Similar to last year and times of the past, he’s not afraid to say, ‘Hey, Bo, what do you think here? What call do you like?’ And those are things that we lean on and those clutch situations, so he’s done a really good job, and our offensive staff in general has done a really good job.”
Question: How beneficial is it for your defense to already be familiar with what Kenny Dillingham likes to run and his type of offense?
Lanning: “It depends on how much he comes out of gate formation, if that’s gonna be 17 plays a game, we’ll see. We expect to see some of those DNA trait type plays that they’ve always had, that he’s carried in the system when he was here, that we still utilize it, and we expect to see some new wrinkles. But he’s doing a good job with his team, you know, creating, you know, advantages with numbers, and I think we just always have to be sound. That’s a big key in this game.”
Photo Courtesy of Ethan Landa
Question: With almost 300 yards after the catch on Saturday, what do you think allows your team to have such success in that area?
Lanning: “Really a combination of things. I think we’ve got great team speed at multiple positions that really pays off. I think you see a lot of guys, you know, playing without the ball in their hands. They create good plays and turn them into great plays with their extending and I think that our coaches have done a good job of scheming up the opponent and finding ways to get the ball in space to great players that they can take advantage of that space.”
Question: After watching the tape, what stood out to you about Rodrick Pleasant in that game?
Lanning: “Yeah, I think Rod did a good job when he came in for his reps. He came and competed, was physical, obviously made a big stop on two-point play. And he’s always been a guy that we felt like we could use and utilize. His role will continue to grow as much as we’re able to use him and find roles that we can fit him in. At one point we’re trying to figure out, do we want to hold this guy from a redshirt standpoint? Well, now we have the opportunity to use him a little bit more because that’s not the case anymore.”
Kenny and Bo
Question: How much credit do you think Kenny deserves for Bo’s resurgence last year?
Lanning: “Kenny was a huge part of that. You know, obviously, they had a relationship before he got here and that certainly paid dividends for us in getting Bo to be a part of our program. And, you know, Bo is self driven. You know, Bo is his own harshest critic. And he makes the coaches around him better, right? And he creates that, you know, with himself he’s, he’s a guy that’s critiquing himself and what he wants to be able to do and how he can get better every single day, and that’s really what makes Bo special.”
Kenny and Dan
Question: How much contact have you kept with Kenny this year and have you learned anything new about him this past year watching him run his own program?
Lanning: “I don’t know that there’s been anything that I’ve learned watching him play just that, you know, he’s doing exactly what I anticipated him to be able to do. Brings an energy to a program, thinking of ways to win and innovative ways. I’m seeing a lot of those same traits that I expected to see from him, and we have certainly been in contact throughout the season. This week we’ll probably talk a little bit less.”
(Photo by Ali Gradischer/Getty Images)
Question: When you’ve got a kicker who is struggling, how do you balance wanting to build his confidence and also making the best decisions for your program?
Lanning: “Cam certainly had some plays that he wants back from the game on Saturday, but then I also can’t help it highlight a huge kick when we’re kicking off from a backed situation. We’re able to pin the team inside the ten, inside the 15 for a really tough situation. Cam’s talented and he can get it done. When he gets his opportunity, I expect him to take advantage of it and we’ll continue to try to put him in an advantageous situations to do that.”
Bucky and JPJ
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Question: What is the latest on Jackson Powers-Johnson and Bucky Irving, and were some of those bad snaps late in the game partly due to the injury to JPJ?
Lanning: “Both those guys were practicing today, expect them to be available. I know those are snaps that JPJ wants back. I think, certainly when you play football at this point in the season, you’re going to be dinged up and banged up, and I know Jackson wouldn’t use the way he felt as an excuse for having a poor snap, but he was playing through being pretty banged out at the end of that game. But I’m glad he was able to get out there today and mix it up.”