OSN Column: Key Takeaways From The Oregon Ducks’ First Spring Football Game
Abby Parr, Getty

By: Joe Harris/Oregon Sports News

There is nothing like a spring football game to get fans excited and give them a sneak–peek at who could be starting for the Oregon Ducks this fall. The Yellow team took on the Green team while fans went to see a ton of different players and some seriously exciting stuff. After all, this was the first public action that Ducks fans got to see with Dan Lanning as the new head coach. Let’s break down the top takeaways.

This offense will be fun to watch

When you think of great Oregon offenses, you think of fast, explosive, and dynamic. That’s what this felt like right off the bat. Yahoo Sports reported that there were five explosion plays, which reminds us of the Chip Kelly era.

Bo Nix immediately opened up the game with a massive 70-yard reception from Seven McGee. Two players later, Nix found McGee again for a touchdown strike, and just like that, points were flowing.

Nix seemed to have a nice connection with his receivers, and McGee, Dont’e Thornton, and Chase Cota all finished with more than 100 or more yards receiving. The running backs had a great day as well, with Noah Whittington leading the charge with 84 yards on 11 carries and a touchdown. His day was punctuated by a 45-yard run. Sean Dollars racked up 49 yards on nine carries and averaged 5.2 a carry.

“We want to be an explosive offense,” Lanning said. “I think I’ve said it several times. Explosive plays and takeaways are the two main determining factors of wins and losses. I certainly don’t think we’re there yet. And we’ve got a long ways to go. But we saw some steps in the right direction.”

The Quarterback Battle was Fun

Bo Nix certainly stood out as the best QB, although his opening pass may have had a big hand in that. He ended the day with 8-15 passing with an interception for 230 yards and three scores. He is clearly the most experienced guy in this group and looked like the guy. However, you have to be careful with the transfer portal as Ty Thompson will be a hot commodity if he chooses to enter if not named the starter. He was 12-27 with two interceptions for 168 yards and a passing touchdown.

Jay Butterfield, who has always felt like the number three, wasn’t bad but didn’t do enough to push the needle. He was 6-13 with an interception for just 64 yards for the yellow team. Then he switched over to the green team, which signals that Nix will likely be the starter. He had a better day for Green, going 10-13 for 149 yards and a touchdown.

Here is what Lanning had to say about the QBs

“You love the explosives. Obviously, you get excited about that. They came out from the job and hit one really early. I thought they did do a good job of pushing the ball down the field, but you can’t put the ball in jeopardy. So that’s one that I know every one of those quarterbacks wishes they had back. You know, protecting the ball a little bit better is something you walk away with.”

Ballhawks in the Ducks’ secondary

Having guys who can get after the quarterback is pivotal for any team, but also employing weapons who have a knack for sniffing out the ball and creating turnovers is equally as important. It seems the Ducks may have just that entering this season.

There were four interceptions in the spring game, with two coming from each team. This secondary is young and will likely have some growing pains to get through, but it’s positive that they showed up in a big way and made some massive plays. Shutting down big arms and big receivers in the Pac 12 is always important, and Oregon looks to have the pieces for that. Lanning says this team is all about getting the ball back.

“I don’t know if I’ve been around a defensive coordinator that emphasizes takeaways as much as Tosh Lupoi. Our defensive staff does a phenomenal job. The entire crew, but, you know, again, one thing we’ve realized is if you can create takeaways, you can give yourself a chance. Yellow, early on, would’ve run away with the game if they hadn’t turned the ball over a couple of times. And they kept it close because of that some big takeaways by the Green defense.”

Oregon Football is going to be fine

This is my biggest takeaway. Oregon football is still going to be good, Dan Lanning is going to demand a lot of his players, and he has already had a really impressive few months steering the ship, keeping his best players on the roster, and adding great weapons through the transfer portal.

Lanning is coming from a program that just won a National Championship, and he will undoubtedly be hungry to win his own sooner rather than later. And maybe what I appreciate the most is that he is doing it with great Oregon guys supporting him, asking them to come to this game, knowing what they mean to the program.

“What an awesome atmosphere. I mean, this is why you come to Oregon. So thrilled to have our alumni come back, our fans to be so supportive, shout in the third quarter, you wonder what that’s gonna feel like seeing that firsthand is obviously a really special moment. I was excited to see our guys compete, go out there and get in every rep. That being said, there’s so much room for improvement. It’s hard to get too excited after one play because you realize that means somebody else messed up on the other side of the ball. Great environment. Again, alums being here was really special to me. They built this program. So seeing them all here, made that really a special event but excited with the result and excited to get back to work.”

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