By 750 THE GAME STAFF
It’s the game of the week and maybe the game of the season in the Pac-12. Certainly Dan Lanning’s biggest game as head coach of Oregon. The Ducks travel North to Seattle to take on the Washington Huskies in a top 10 matchup on Saturday.
Washington and Oregon both have Heisman Trophy candidates, Pac-12 Championship hopes, and College Football Playoff dreams. The game on Saturday is expected to be close as the Huskies are -3 against the Ducks per BetOnline.
Dan Lanning held his weekly Monday press conference and he knows that going to Husky Stadium is going to be difficult. But the second year coach is embracing the challenge and knows his team will as well.
“Hostile can be fun,” Lanning said. “I think this one will be one of those environments where there’s going to be a lot of distractions. A lot of pieces going on outside the puzzle, but we’re really focused on being the eye of the storm. The calm within the storm. And I think our guys will handle that well.”
Michael Penix Jr. is right at the top of most Heisman Trophy lists. According to Betonline.ag, Penix is the betting favorite to win the Heisman at +225 over reigning champion Caleb Williams. Lanning knows that Penix is awesome and he knows it’s going to be a challenge to slow him down on Saturday.
“They probably give the biggest variety of pre-snap motions and shifts of any team that we’ve played so far this year,” said the Ducks head coach. “They have a great deep passing attack, but I think Mike (Penix Jr.) has the ability to get rid of the ball when he does have pressure on him. So he knows if somebody is free he knows where it’s coming from and he does a good job eluding that pressure. There’s a couple times last year where we had him hemmed up and we didn’t finish. He does a good job avoiding (the rush) and probably doesn’t get enough credit for that.”
Ja’Marr Chase, Justin Jefferson, Jaylen Waddle, Jameson Williams, DeVonta Smith, and Kyle Pitts — just a few of the names that Dan Lanning has gone against when he was the defensive coordinator for Georgia in the SEC. All those guys were elite in college, but how does the Washington receivers core match up to guys like that?
“Similar to all those guys, our coaches mentioned earlier today we were watching film, that they never really go down after contact,” Lanning said. “These guys play wideout with more of a running back mentality when they do get the ball. It’s going to take everybody on them to get them down. They catch the ball really well in tight windows. I know sometimes they’re throwing them open a lot of times, but there’s a lot of catches that they make that are contested catches too.”
College Gameday will be at the game as the whole college football world will be watching this rivalry game on Saturday. Kick off is at 12:30 p.m. on ABC.
Don’t miss John Canzano giving his opinion on the game and making his prediction on the Bald Faced Truth, afternoons 3-6 p.m. exclusively in Portland on 750 The Game.