Oregon coach Dan Lanning said he'll be looking at how the No. 15 Ducks handle turnovers and tackles on Saturday against Portland State. On offense, he wants to see explosiveness.
The latter shouldn't be a problem. Oregon had an average of more than 500 yards and 38.8 points per game last season. The Ducks scored 40-plus points eight times.
Against lower-division Portland State, the other tasks Lanning has for the Ducks should come easily, too.
“There’s more turnovers in college football in Week 1 and then in the bowl week than there is in any other time of the season. There’s more missed tackles in Week 1 and then the bowl game than there is any other time of the season. That’s because of the long vacancy between games. So, starting there," Lanning said Monday. "But ultimately, college football is still built on explosive plays and takeaways. So those are the things that we want to create defensively as far as takeaways, and offensively, we want to create explosives."
Lanning is entering his second full season as head coach of the Ducks, who will be departing the Pac-12 in 2024 and joining the Big Ten, along with Washington, USC and UCLA.
The Ducks went 10-3 overall and 7-2 in the Pac-12 last season. After a season-opening loss to Georgia, Oregon rebounded, climbing to No. 6 in the AP Top 25. But a pair of late losses to Washington and Oregon State kept Oregon out of the playoff picture. The Ducks rallied in the fourth quarter to win the Holiday Bowl, 28-27 over North Carolina.
The Vikings, embarking on their ninth season under coach Bruce Barnum, were 4-7 overall last season and 3-5 in the Big Sky. They were picked to finish ninth this season in the conference's preseason media poll.
Barnum said he likes his team's speed this season.
“We’re fast. For FCS football, we’re fast. That’s what we recruited to and that’s what I’m seeing out here right now. So toughen them up a little bit and be ready to rock and roll, make sure they’re in the right spot," Barnum said. "But I like our speed on both sides of the football right now.”
"I think we’ve got a really competitive team, right? It doesn’t matter really what we’re doing on that field, the guys that are in that space, they want to win," Lanning said. “It could be a drill in practice, or it could be a two-minute period at the end of practice, or it could be a game. These guys want to compete. From a toughness standpoint, that’s still being shown, it’s a long season of football. You’re gonna have bangs, you’re gonna have hits, you’re gonna get dinged here and there."
Oregon returns quarterback Bo Nix for his final season of eligibility.
Nix finished with 29 touchdown passes, 14 rushing scores and one TD catch in 13 games last season after transferring to Oregon from Auburn. He threw just seven interceptions and finished with an Oregon-record 71.9 completion percentage. His rushing touchdowns were just one shy of Marcus Mariota’s single-season record.
He has 47 career starts, most of any active quarterback in the nation.
Nix is also the subject of a billboard campaign in New York City and Dallas that features his image and the word “Bodacious," with an emphasis on Bo.
ON THE OTHER SIDE
Portland State brings back junior quarterback Dante Chachere after he started for the Vikings in 2022. A dual threat, he threw for 19 touchdowns and ran for seven more.
Chachere’s dad played in the Arena Football League and brother Andre played cornerback for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2021 and 2022.
Lanning noted the Vikings like to throw downfield, with an average target of over 12 yards.
“The biggest thing is their quarterback is extremely dynamic. He’s a guy that’s really fast. You can see it when you watch their explosive play tape, really quick you realize that he’s the guy that has the ball in his hands," Lanning said.
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll