“Rooted in substance!!” Oregon Head Coach Dan Lanning thundered before Oregon’s matchup with Colorado in September, “they’re playing for clicks, we’re playing for wins!!”
What exactly was Oregon playing for on Saturday? To win? Or not to lose?
Faced with the prospect of adding points or trusting his defense, Lanning chose fourth down conversion attempts three times.
They all failed.
I stated last week that if this pivotal game came down to defensive stops, I was rolling with Oregon.
I rolled the wrong way.
Washington got the stops. Washington got the win.
That’s on them, they earned it. What confused me (and Duck fans all over) was why the Huskies had the chance in the first place.
Oregon had the chance to cut into the lead going into halftime with a chip shot field goal, and they would receive the second half kickoff. It was a great opportunity to seize momentum.
Instead, they tried to get into the end zone at all costs, and couldn’t.
Lanning was questioned by ESPN reporter Holly Rowe at halftime about the decision. He said that’s how this team was, and that they would continue to be aggressive.
I guess so.
They turned it over on downs again in the third, and Washington went up double digits.
But the Ducks showed why they were a Top 10 team by battling back to reclaim the lead and after an amazing goal-line stand they had the ball and drove to midfield where they stalled.
It was then that Lanning made a choice that seemed far from “rooted in substance”.
He decided not to trust his defense, the one that had just made that amazing stand. He decided to try and make a statement that Bo Nix could pick up a first down no matter what the situation. He gave probably the most lethal passer in the country Michael Pennix half a field to work with.
I don’t know about you, but I’d have gladly taken an extra 40 or so yards for Washington to have to drive, especially considering they had to have a touchdown.
There is still a lot of football left to be played. The Dawgs are the Top Dawgs in the Pac-12 for now.
Interestingly, Oregon has a very good shot at getting a second crack at UW. Nix subtly alluded to that in his postgame comments.
If the last two games are any indication, it would likely go down to the wire. Question is, did Lanning learn anything from this?
If the Ducks find themselves in another clutch situation in any of their remaining games, will he opt for fundamentals or flashiness?
“Rooted in substance”.
Let’s see a little more of that during crunch time coach.