Dan Lanning and Ducks do to what Chip, Mark, Willie and Mario couldn't against Stanford
For once, a new era of Oregon football wasn't ushered in by a thumping from the Cardinal.
EUGENE — Things that have been said by an Oregon coach after his first game against Stanford.
Chip Kelly in 2009 after a 51-42 loss that knocked the Ducks out of the BCS title race:
“We got beat by a better team.”
Mark Helfrich in 2013 after a 26-20 loss that knocked the Ducks out of the BCS title race:
“We don’t hold the cards anymore.”
Willie Taggart in 2017 after a 49-7 loss, the largest in the history of the rivalry:
“We needed to play a little better than we did.”
Mario Cristobal in 2018 after blowing a 24-7 lead in an eventual 38-31 overtime loss:
“We had some really, really good moments. We just have to be more consistent.”
Said Dan Lanning on Saturday:
“Holy crap, did you see how fast Bo Nix ran?”
Ok, Lanning didn’t really say that, but Oregon’s 45-27 thumping of the Cardinal didn’t end until nearly midnight on Saturday night so you can excuse me if he was misheard. In fact, Lanning has actually turned himself into a bit of the Mayor from Footloose with monotone quotes and dance restrictions — more on that later.
But the thing is, the 52,218 townsfolk who packed into Autzen Stadium on this 80-degree October day didn’t seem to mind. Because if Nix is rattling off 80-yard runs and Bucky Irving is juking defenders out of their shoes and Troy Franklin is toe-tapping for touchdowns and the defense is pressuring the quarterback like that, well, dancing might have been a generational thing anyway.
“You guys ready for bed yet?,” the first-year Oregon coach actually said, with a smile, after the game.
Yes, Stanford is struggling. The Cardinal haven’t beaten a Pac-12 team since upsetting the Ducks a year ago and have given up 40 or more points in every FBS game this season. USC punked the Cardinal, so did Washington and the Ducks did too, jumping out to a 31-3 lead at the half and finishing with 505 yards of total offense.
But this is still Stanford and that was still David Shaw on the sidelines, the same Shaw who has whittled that Stanford tree into a dagger time after time and driven it through the heart of Oregon’s hopes. Kelly was 2-2 against Stanford, Helfrich 2-2, Taggart 0-1 and Cristobal 2-2. Even last year, when the Cardinal finished 3-9, Stanford’s last win of the Pac-12 season ended Oregon’s then-playoff hopes.
Good thing Lanning brought a bulldozer with him to the woods.
The Ducks rushed 351 yards — their most since 2018 — averaged 9.5 yards per carry and scored four touchdowns on the ground. Nix had two of those, including an 80-yard scamper in the third quarter than ranks as the third-longest by a quarterback in Oregon history.
Lanning said he gave Nix a hard time after last week’s win over Washington State, when he quickly went down after a 17-yard reception.
“I didn’t realize he was the sliding quarterback type,” Lanning joked. “So that one was fun. He was sucking wind on the sideline.”
Which was fine, because Nix only had to play one drive — also resulting in an early fourth-quarter touchdown — before the Ducks brought on backup Ty Thompson to finish the job.
Yes, there was some ugly on Saturday. Oregon’s offensive output was even more impressive considering the new rule stating UO had to take a penalty every third play. Oregon’s 14 penalties for 135 yards were, by far, a season high and the one glaring concern for Lanning after the win.
“Right now,” he said, “it’s hard to say anyone has stopped us but ourselves.”
Including on the sideline. With Oregon hanging onto a 21-point lead going into the fourth quarter, Oregon’s players were noticeably still during the break after Lanning voiced some displeasure about the team’s focus following Oregon’s dancing to “Shout” two weeks ago against BYU.
"We talked to our team about it, (and) I think they have an understanding of our expectations," Lanning said.
To be fair to Lanning, the tradition of all-out dancing between the intermissions has only been running through the Cristobal and Taggart eras of Oregon football. And those two weren’t often smiling at the end of games against the Cardinal.
Into the early hours of Sunday morning, Mayor Dooley was.
“We’re going to take it serious and do good job of it,” Lanning said. “A lot of things to takeaway from this game, but also a lot of moments of growth. We’re trying to be the best version of us and we haven’t gotten there yet.”
— Tyson Alger
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