Oregon eager to improve perception following precipitous rankings drop

·3 min read

The Oregon Ducks went into last Saturday’s game against the Georgia Bulldogs ranked as the No. 11 team in the nation according to most national polls. The performance that they put forth showed that the ranking was far too high.

As a result, Oregon will now go into its Week 2 game as the No. 24 team according to the USA TODAY Coaches Poll, and they will be unranked according to both the AP Poll and the ESPN Power Rankings.

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Now they’re out to prove to the college football world that this ranking is too low.

“Our guys are anxious, you know, extremely anxious to get back to work,” head coach Dan Lanning said on Monday night. “That being said, I think every one of our players acknowledged we need to work between now and in the game. You know, we have our opponent right now — we have Eastern Washington on the schedule — but our opponent right now is Oregon.”

The difference between the Ducks’ Week 1 and Week 2 opponents is stark. For the first contest of the season, Oregon faced the defending national champions, a team that retooled after losing a record 15 players to the 2022 NFL draft, but came back arguably stronger, and on a collision course with the likes of Alabama and Ohio State to defend their title. Contrarily, Week 2 will be played against Eastern Washington, an FCS school that has nowhere near the talent that Georgia has, let alone anyone else in the Pac-12 conference.

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Despite that drop-off in the level of talent that they will be facing, there are a number of things that the Ducks need to control in order to prove that they are who everyone originally thought they were. At the top of the list is tackling, and showing that they have anywhere close to the elite defense that was predicted.

As you would expect, the last couple of practices have been grueling and physical, with players getting after it and working hard to right their mistakes.

“Our guys went out there and worked their tails off today,” Lanning said on Monday. “We had a lot of corrections, went and hit those corrections first, got out there and got to work and I know they’re fired up to get back on the field again and prove they’re better than they played.”

In reality, the Ducks can come out to Autzen Stadium on Saturday night and win 80-0, but it still wouldn’t completely rid of the sour taste that was left by the sight of Georgia dismantling Lanning’s squad. That’s not something that is forgotten quickly. Fortunately, Oregon has 11 games left to change some minds, and a couple of games coming up — BYU in Week 3, Washington State in Week 4 — to prove that they’re better than the team we saw on Saturday.

“It’s a long season ahead of us,” running back Sean Dollars said on Tuesday. “I feel like every day we take it into the action of getting better, getting 1% better and just coming out 1-0 for the week.”

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Story originally appeared on Ducks Wire