Just as Kirby Smart did last week, Dan Lanning was speaking to reporters on media days. The new Oregon coach spoke at the PAC-12 media days in Los Angeles on Friday.
Naturally, my previous employer came. Lanning has served as Georgia’s defensive coordinator for the past three seasons, helping build a championship-winning unit. Now he will be looking to do the same with the ducks, as Mario Cristobal takes over.
Lanning’s first game though numbers is quite challenging. This is because he is against the team he just left. The one who won everything last season.
“I certainly couldn’t miss the opportunity to get to know our first game,” Lanning said at the end of his opening statement. “Getting playing a really familiar opponent in Georgia in a game on a neutral site in Atlanta. Definitely excited to be back and seeing some familiar faces go there, competing against a mentor and friend in Kirby Smart.”
Georgia and Oregon open the season on September 3rd at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Both teams still have more than a month before stepping onto the field against each other, as Georgia and Oregon use fall camp to sort through some of the questions they have about each other.
As for the ducks, they still haven’t announced the start of the quarterback for the game. The favorite is another name Georgia knows well, as Auburn’s ducks brought former quarterback Bo Nix through the transfer gate. The Knicks started three games against Georgia in his time with the Tigers, losing all three competitions.
With the game against Georgia looming large to start the season, Lanning made it clear that Oregon is focusing on itself first before looking too far ahead.
He obviously learned a thing or two in answering questions from Smart.
“Honestly, we didn’t spend a lot of focus on the first match,” Lanning said. “I know our players are definitely excited to be on the national stage early and clearly play the elite opponent in Georgia that we really know. Guess what, they are also very familiar with me.”
Smart’s answers about Oregon were similar to the point, with the Georgia coach being friendly toward Lanning. It is clear that they have a relationship that extends far beyond just football coaching.
In his SEC media days, Smart told reporters that he chatted with Lanning from time to time. Obviously, it’s not about the idiosyncrasies of either team, but the big points of being a football coach.
“It’s more gratitude both ways. He had a few questions as a first time coach. Same questions I would have asked,” Smart said. We shared ideas and philosophies, and we will continue to do so.
Related: Kirby Smart at Georgia-Oregon football opener: ‘This game will help us prepare for the SEC challenge’
Oregon has a little further to go if it’s going to match what Georgia has had in recent seasons. While Cristobal has competed in Oregon in the PAC-12 every year, the Ducks have not played a College Football Playoff game since 2014. After winning the Rose Bowl to crown the 2019 season, the Ducks failed to reach the stated heights in each of the previous two seasons.
The opening game against Georgia will certainly be used as a measuring stick for both the Lanning and Oregon program. While Lanning is a first-time head coach, he knows expectations will be high for the Oregon program.
Teach him that time he spent in Georgia.
We are not chasing anyone. “We’re trying to maximize ourselves,” Lanning said. “We will be the best team we can be in 2022. Our goal, as I said, is to win every game. That is our goal. We have the team and the ability to do that.”
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