On3 one-on-one interview: Oregon head coach Dan Lanning

On3 imageby:Matt Zenitz05/02/23

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For Dan Lanning, Year 1 at Oregon included 10 wins in the final 12 games, three victories over top-12 teams and a season-ending win over Drake Maye and North Carolina in the Holiday Bowl.

Now, with star QB Bo Nix back for another season, the Ducks figure to among the top contenders from the Pac-12 to go along with other teams such as USC.

Coming out of Oregon spring practice, which wrapped up with the Ducks’ spring game on Saturday, On3 caught up with Lanning on Year 2 at Oregon, Nix’ progression and other topics such as new Ducks offensive coordinator Will Stein.

Q: What was the spring ball development for you guys that you were most enthusiastic about?

Lanning: I just think our physicality as a team showed up more, guys embracing the effort that’s required to be successful. I think we really saw that.

Q: What’s the biggest and most worthwhile thing you learned from Year 1 as a head coach? 

Lanning: Just time management. There’s never enough time. I’d be a fan of eight days in a week and maybe 36 hour days if that could happen, but it is what it is. So you’ve got to be able to learn how to manage it better. 

Q: A lot of the time with coaching hires, there’s some sort of pre-existing relationship or connection with the coach being hired. I don’t think that was the case with your guys’ new offensive coordinator, Will Stein. What led to him getting on the radar for you and you determining that was a good fit?

Lanning: I’ve never worked with Will personally, but I had some mutual friends that had been around him and seen him kind of grow. Then also had some respect for the job that he had done there at UTSA. Went and watched film. Liked what I saw. I thought that he had some elements that would fit as nice additions to our system and our scheme. And then got to connect with the guy and do some background with a lot of different people and check in on like his character and who he is and what’s important to him and felt like he’d be a great fit. 

What, if anything, changes for you guys offensively under Will compared to what you did last year under Kenny Dillingham?

Lanning: It’ll be very similar to what we’ve been doing. There’ll be a wrinkle here and there and potentially some RPO elements to fit off of our run game stuff, but for the most part it will be very similar. 

Q: With Bo Nix now heading into Year 2 as the starting QB there, what’s different about Bo now compared to where he was last year?

Lanning: Going into last year, we didn’t announce a starter until Game 1, so now being the starter and being the guy, there’s a different level of really expectation for him from a leadership standpoint and I think he’s really embraced that well. 

Q: I worked on something recently polling NFL scouts on draft-eligible players on the first-round radar for next year. Bo was among the QBs that came up. I know he’s been a known figure on a national level for several years going back to his time at Auburn, but what are some of the characteristics or traits with Bo that maybe the casual observer people wouldn’t notice or that he doesn’t get enough credit for?

Lanning: Well, I don’t know what he does or doesn’t get credit for, but he’s extremely intelligent. He sees the game like a coach. And there were several times last year where he was able to get us in the right play. I hope people recognize that piece. I think he was a great decision-maker this past season. I think he did a great job of not putting the ball in jeopardy. And when he does that, we’re special. As long as he continues to do those things, I think we’ll do really well. 

Q: Who is the addition for you guys that maybe hasn’t been overly hyped up on national level that’s impressed you, generated buzz this spring and that you see having a chance to come in and make an impact this year? Tez Johnson at receiver?

Lanning: Yeah, Tez would definitely be a fair guy to pick out. I think he had a great spring game and he showed some flash plays throughout spring that showed his speed and his ability to separate and make plays.