Timmy Chang and his Hawaii Rainbow Warriors football program are traveling to Eugene, Oregon for their matchup with the 13th-ranked Oregon Ducks. In prep for this, Tristan Holmes of Addicted To Quack was kind enough to answer some questions for us about the 2023 Ducks and the overall state of Oregon’s role in modern college football.
If you’re looking for our responses to their questions, you can check it out at Addicted To Quack right here come Saturday morning.
Jeremy: August was a historic month for college football, kicked off in late July by Colorado blinking first and leaving for the Big 12. Weeks later, the Pac-12 was essentially no more. 100+ year institution, finished. Oregon had no choice but to look out for their best interests. What has the reaction been from Oregon fans and alums in recent weeks as they adjust to the new reality of the Big Ten?
Tristian: There is a great deal of sadness that the Pac-12 has dissolved (though not legally), but relief to have landed in the BIG. Realistically there was no long term future for the Pac-12 without USC and UCLA. Had commissioner George Kliavkoff and the presidents been more realistic in their negotiation of a new media package there was a chance to continue for another five to ten years, but that was probably all. If the Pac-12 wasn’t going to remain competitive financially with the ACC and Big XII, the BIG was definitely the next best option (even at an initial discount). The biggest issue will be finding a way to continue the rivalry with Oregon State as a non-conference opponent. It’s difficult to imagine sports in the state of Oregon without the Ducks playing the Beavers.
Jeremy: Former Oregon coach Mario Cristobal left Oregon in December of 2021, opening the way for Oregon to hire Dan Lanning. This is a program with lofty goals of winning the national championship one day. How are Ducks fans feeling about Lanning to this point?
Tristan: The hiring of Dan Lanning was proof that the Oregon athletic department was all in on recruiting elite athletes to the football team. Lanning and his staff have absolutely succeeded in that aspect, building on momentum created during Cristobal’s time in Eugene. Having “Uncle” Phil Knight and some other prominent donors helping with NIL deals for the players is a big part of that success of course. Cristobal was often seen as a great recruiter but a liability as a game manager. The offenses under Lanning have been more explosive (thanks mostly to bringing in Bo Nix), with excellent clock management. There are concerns that the success Lanning had as defensive coordinator at Georgia hasn’t translated to major improvements on that side of the ball at Oregon. There is potential for improvement this year, but there was a lot of sloppiness in pass coverage last week against Texas Tech. If that doesn’t get cleaned up, Oregon won’t be playing for the final Pac-12 championship.
Jeremy: Enough about the future, let’s focus on the now. Why will the 2023 season be special for Oregon? On the flip side, why won’t it be?
Tristan: If Bo Nix stays healthy, a conference championship and playoff berth is a realistic aspiration for this team. His production last year before his injury was comparable to that of Hawaii’s own Marcus Mariota, beloved by all, the year he won the Heisman. This is the deepest group of wide receivers Oregon has ever had, and there are proven playmakers at running back and tight end. The offensive line is less experienced than last year and it showed against Texas Tech, but they have the talent to become a great unit by December. If this isn’t a special season, it will be because of problems on defense. The pass rush was virtually non-existent last season and the team is relying on freshmen, albeit highly rated as recruits, to improve that. There are also injury concerns at middle linebacker. The first two weeks of the season have seen a baseball player who walked on to the football team as a starter there.
Jeremy: It’s difficult writing up talking points for a game in which the spread is floating between 35-38 points. Hawaii’s goal is to survive health wise. What does Oregon want to achieve Saturday?
Tristan: As an Oregon fan, I want to see a clean game. The Ducks only had a single penalty at home against Portland State in week 1, but on the road in Lubbock they had 14 penalties for 124 yards. A lot of those were false starts by the offensive line or pass interference by defenders who did not locate the ball in coverage. I’ll be looking for a sharp reduction in those errors on Saturday. I’d love to see another dominant game for the Ducks similar to when they played Portland State so both teams can rotate in backups in the second half and avoid key injuries.
Jeremy: Final question, any do’s and don’ts for gameday in Eugene?
Tristan: Do get into town early and park south of the Willamette so you can walk through campus on your way to the stadium. You’ll get a great view crossing the river and then the stadium will reveal itself through the woods as you walk through the park. Don’t plan on getting back to Portland before midnight if you have to catch a flight though, that same scenic footbridge becomes a bottleneck for foot traffic after the game. Don’t bother bringing any rain gear. As any Duck fan will tell you: “It never rains at Autzen Stadium!”
Thank you to Tristan and the Addicted To Quack staff for collaborating with the MW Connection!
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