Jonathan Smith explains what separates Dan Lanning from past Oregon coaches
Jonathan Smith has been embarrassed by Oregon and he’s beaten the Ducks. He faced Mario Cristobal four times. This season, he’ll face Dan Lanning for the first time.
And he sees a real difference between the two.
“I think their fourth-down aggression might be a little bit different this year than in the past,” Smith said this week. “The guy is willing to take chances. He beats UCLA I think on the decision to onside on the kickoff. He’s chasing down wins, man.”
Lanning’s willingness to take chances has certainly gotten Oregon into plus situations this season, but it has also backfired. Lanning admitted after the 37-34 Washington loss he got a little selfish. The Ducks tried an onside kick that didn’t work. Lanning went for a fourth-and-short on Oregon’s side of the 50 in the fourth quarter. That proved to be fatal.
But Duck fans had grown accustomed to Cristobal’s conservative approach.
Situational “aggression” certainly isn’t just confined to fourth-down attempts, but we can quantify that a bit easier. Oregon has 25 fourth-down attempts this year, converting 19 of them. That’s the best conversion rate of any Pac-12 team and the second-highest “go” rate. Oregon already has as many conversions in 11 games this season as it did attempts in last year’s 14-game campaign.
Smith sees similarities, too.
“These guys are sound schematically, they’ve got good athletes, they’re getting great quarterback play,” he said. “That’s been similar in years. I think each coach kind of puts their personality into it.”
The Ducks and Beavers play in Corvallis on Saturday (12:30 p.m. PT, ABC).