ESPN's Greg McElroy says Oregon's lingering QB competition is more about strategy
When Bo Nix announced he was transferring to Oregon, so many looked at the move and assumed that he had just assured himself to be the next starting quarterback for the Ducks.
Oregon has former blue-chippers in Ty Thompson and Jay Butterfield, but neither have starting experience. Nix has loads of it — and against the rugged SEC West. But Lanning has kept his cards millimeters from his vest so far in fall camp. With 10 days to go before the season-opener against Georgia, Lanning has yet to name a starter or even drop a clue as to who it might be or when the announcement might come.
“If I felt like it gave us a competitive advantage to tell you, I would,” Lanning said early in camp. “I don’t.”
ESPN’s Greg McElroy said recently this could all be about gamesmanship for the former Georgia defensive coordinator.
“It’s not that dissimilar to what we’ve heard from other guys from that Nick Saban tree,” McElroy said on the ‘Always College Football’ podcast. “They want to keep things close to the vest. He probably doesn’t feel like there’s any benefit to making the starting quarterback known.
“Offensive guys understand the positives that come with announcing who your starting quarterback is going to be. As a defensive guy, Dan Lanning looks at it and says, ‘If I’m a defensive coordinator and I know what the skill set is of the starting quarterback we’re playing against, I can better put together a defensive plan that could neutralize what advantages that quarterback may have.’”
Perfect example of what McElroy is talking about: Washington’s starting quarterback spot. UW head coach Kalen DeBoer — an offensive-minded coach — talked often in camp about the need to name a guy and start distributing the reps appropriately. UW announced its starter earlier this week.
Though the majority opinion is that Nix is going to win the job, Lanning might be placing some value in forcing Georgia’s defense to prepare for several guys.
“That’s the difference between a defensive-minded head coach and an offensive-minded head coach,” McElroy said. “The defensive guy is like, ‘No, I’m not telling you anything because if (you) know his skill set, (you) can take away what he does well.’”
The Ducks and Bulldogs kick off against each other in Atlanta on Sept. 3 at 12:30 p.m. PT on ABC. Oregon is a heavy underdog, so any advantage it can gain against the defending champs, Lanning will likely leverage.