Dan Lanning comments on QB competition after Oregon's first scrimmage
With a full-blown quarterback competition happening in Eugene, a chance to get out in a simulated game environment is a major data point. Practice—situational or 7-on-7s—is one thing, but when the tackling is live and decisions need to be made quickly, separation can happen.
Emphasis on can. Head coach Dan Lanning came away from the scrimmage thinking each of the Oregon Ducks’ three signal-callers had their moments.
“All of our quarterbacks, if you actually pulled the stats afterward, it’s like ‘wow, they actually had very similar days,'” he told reporters after. “I think all of them had success. All of them scored touchdowns. Two of them threw picks. We talked about taking care of the ball, but in general, they were very similar performances across the board by those guys.
“I think everybody’s had shining moments and I don’t feel like there’s one that’s just separated themselves out from the other. I think there’s certainly room for improvement for each one of those guys. They’ve all had really good moments and they’ve all had really poor moments. I feel really confident we have quarterbacks we can win with, which is a big positive.”
Auburn transfer Bo Nix is the expected winner in the competition. He’s the most experienced of the bunch, and he’s looking to hold off second-year freshman Ty Thompson and third-year freshman Jay Butterfield.
Nix has played over 2,000 snaps and thrown over 1,000 passes in his collegiate career. The duo of Butterfield and Thompson have combined to play fewer than 50 snaps and throw less than 20 passes in their young careers so far.
That game experience should serve Nix well. It’s a bank of reps. There’s little he hasn’t seen. But decision-making has long been a question of his game.
And that seems to be the key sticking point in this competition.
Each passer threw an interception in the team’s spring game earlier this year. The scrimmage Saturday was closed to both the public and the media, and Lanning didn’t reveal who was responsible for the two interceptions after.
However, he did offer a defense of the throws.
“Some of those situations are ones where you’ve got to throw the ball,” he said. “Let’s say it’s fourth down in the two-minute and you need to throw the ball to get into field goal range. We’re going to throw the ball. So, there’s a chance there might be a pick where on a third down or second down you might say an incomplete is OK. We had situations like that where we threw picks on must-throw fourth downs. Ultimately, we want to do a better job of taking care of the ball. I think we were closer today. For those to come in those situations tells you a little bit about our quarterback’s decision-making, but we can certainly still get cleaner.”
Lanning liked that the offense was able to produce some explosive plays. He said the group did well to operate with tempo and create some issues for the defense. He thought the offense won the day early before the defense closed the gap later.
Asked if there was any concern the quarterback situation isn’t yet settled, Lanning brushed the notion off.
“I like to know that you have multiple quarterbacks that you feel really good about,” he said. “That’s where I’m at right now. I feel really good about that right now.”