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“Leadership Rises” as Oregon Football Puts on Pads

Lanning Wants Ducks to Learn to Bite...and Bite Hard

Syndication: The Register Guard Chris Pietsch/The Register-Guard / USA TODAY NETWORK

The second full week of Oregon football’s Fall Camp saw an unsurprising ramp-up of both expectations and understanding. While the Coaches and players try hard not to give too much away in post-practice interviews, there’s an undercurrent of enthusiasm, particularly from the players. Some of this is doubtless attributable to the joy of just being back on the field with teammates. But there is also evidence of Oregon maturing and coming together as a team. Although quick to note the amount of work yet to do, Coaches seem pleased with the team’s progress and with the emergence of leadership from players on both sides of the ball. Duck fans may recall some years in which locker room leadership was ineffective, and some level of “entitlement” crept into some members of the team leading to unfavorable game results. That is most certainly not in evidence this year.

As one example, linebacker Jeff Bassa was singled out by Defensive Coordinator Lupoi. Bassa noted in an interview that he was working on better communication, specifically in recognizing formations and play tendencies from those formations more quickly. This lets the defense get adjusted as needed earlier. A small bit of in-game leadership that might not be obvious on game film.

Lupoi noted that the defense has been focused on what are likely to be actual game situations as opposed to running more generic drills. However, neither Lupoi nor Lanning said there was any kind of Georgia game-plan implementation, which they said would take place during game week. This seems unlikely to be completely true, and the “actual game situations” could easily feature formations and plays the Ducks will see in Atlanta. While there’s not likely to be any “secret sauce,” Coach Lanning should give Oregon insight into what Georgia will bring to the table and ways to attack the Bulldogs on both sides of the ball.

Oregon’s offense continues to have competition at the quarterback position. Lanning is playing it close to the vest, noting repeatedly only that Oregon has “quarterbacks we can win with.” Despite this, Bo Nix has to be favored to earn the start against Georgia. He has played on that stage before and is unlikely to be awed by the venue or the fact that this is a gigantic opener.

Oregon Spring Game Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Coach Lupoi also noted that an old friend - Oregon offensive tempo - had given the defense some problems. Coaches have been pitting the two sides against each other in 2- and 4-minute drills, in which the offense is tasked with protecting a lead by running out the clock or trying to come from behind to score for the win. Overall, the offense and defense appear to be “winning” about equal numbers of these drills.

“Competition” has been one of the main watchwords of this camp, and few players should feel completely certain of their roles. Oregon holds its second full scrimmage today, and we may get some idea of how some of those competitions are resolving.