It is game week for the Oregon Ducks as Dan Lanning prepares to make his head coaching debut against none other than his former team.
Lanning and the Ducks will face Georgia in what is likely the second-best matchup being played during Week 1 of the College Football Season. In a game that feels like it could be closer than what some are saying, the Ducks are coming in as 17-point underdogs. Football Power Index gives the Bulldogs 91.5 percent odds of winning the Week 1 opener.
There is obviously some sort of advantage that Lanning will have over Georgia, knowing their systems and the ins and outs of how their offense works. Stetson Bennett will have an excellent Oregon defense breathing down his neck all game long, but that is hardly something he isn’t used to.
Lanning will bring a vast amount of knowledge to this matchup, coaching the Bulldogs’ defense to a National Championship win just a few months ago. But the talent scale certainly tips on the side of the Dawgs, despite losing a ton of it to the NFL Draft this past April. It might be unfair to actually judge Lanning and his coaching during the opening week because no brand new head coach wants to see the defending national champions roll into town when they’re just learning what the traditions of the school are, where to stand on the sideline, where the band sits, and how to get into the locker room.
Georgia Defense Could Kill
The depth of Georgia’s defense is impressive, and despite losing many starters from this unit, they should still be top-10 in the nation this year. This is a more inexperienced group, but they did just watch what a top unit can do, as their defense is what won a national championship.
There are some questions as Lanning isn’t there to lead the ship, but the Dawgs do have Will Muschamp and Glenn Schumann as co-coordinators who should be able to guide the ship just enough to breeze to a win.
These guys will be hungry to impress in their first game coming off that Natty, and I am sure they have heard all the noise about regressing next year. This isn’t a spot that the Ducks necessarily want to be in.
I am a little nervous that there isn’t a quarterback on this roster that is good enough to make a massive stand against a defense like Georgia’s. I am not placing my complete trust in a guy like Bo Nix. And I am not necessarily feeling all the confidence in Ty Thompson or Kenny Dillingham, either. The bottom line is that Oregon hasn’t even named one of them as the starter, which should be a more significant concern heading into Week 1.
If the Ducks don’t feel confident in one of these guys to name them the outright starter, how can I have enough confidence in them to win against this Georgia team? Oh, and Georgia head coach Kirby Smart doesn’t really care about the starting quarterback, either.
“That doesn’t really impact anything for us. I know who the quarterback’s going to be. So I’m not worried about that.”
Players to Watch
Stetson Bennett – He doesn’t have to be perfect, and he doesn’t have to be a hero, but if the Dawgs get up in this game, Bennett has to be good enough not to hand this game away.
Byron Cardwell – I am eager to see Cardwell in game action, and the Ducks will need all the offensive production they need.
Lanning and his defense will keep this game close…for at least one half. But this is such a tall task for a head coach entering his very first game. If he somehow finds a way to pull this off, more power to him. I think he will immediately etch himself into Oregon lure, but I want to be realistic here, and I don’t think it’s crazy to say that Oregon fans should prepare themselves to begin this season 0-1. It is a long season, but the happiness of it might not start on Saturday.
Oregon 17 Georgia 35