After Georgia, some needed quiet awaits the Ducks
Dan Lanning's Oregon debut couldn't have gone worse. Now come the games that build a program.
PORTLAND — The quiet of a Sunday after game day can sneak up on you.
I filed yesterday’s story after 10 hours inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium. That’s 10 hours of flashing lights, thumping music and a Jumbotron operator eager to embarrass any of the 76,490 in attendance who had the audacity to shift their attention elsewhere.
There was a football game, too, the type of big-time early matchup that provides a little extra boost of adrenaline — blowout be damned. Less than 24 hours later, I’m 2,500 miles away at my desk in a 700 square-foot house and all I hear is the dog gnawing at a gatorade bottle and a fan whisking this beautifully dry air throughout the house. My ears are ringing a bit, and after two hours of sleep before flying back to the West Coast my head’s feeling a bit like an exposed nerve.
Again, those types of games will do that. All I had to do was type.
Ask any Oregon player who played against Auburn in 2019 or Michigan State in 2014 or LSU in 2011 and they’ll tell you these top 25 nonconference games pack something different to them.
Alex Forsyth said as much last night.
“You have this circled on the calendar since the end of last year,” the senior offensive lineman said. “I know I have.”
Eight months of buildup for a game over in three hours. When it goes well, it can lead to iconic moments. But when it goes poorly, everything is magnified. Every interception, every missed tackle along the edge and every debut. The Oregon fanbase seemingly felt the same thing, as internet reaction blamed everyone from Dan Lanning to Mario Cristobal to Bo Nix to those who scheduled this game in the first place. Throw in players subtweeting about playing time and it’s fair to say the only good thing that came from Lanning/Smart I is that Oregon returned back to Eugene in relatively good health aside from some deep bruises to muscle and ego.
“Dan Lanning did a tremendous job for the University of Georgia while he worked for the University of Georgia. Now he’s working for Oregon and he’s going to do a really good job at Oregon. He’s relentless and they’ll bounce back from this,” Smart said, before twisting the knife:
“He knows that we’ve got better players. He’ll never say it, but he knows we’ve got better players.”
That one kept the conversation going deep into the night.