Following Oregon’s 2023 spring game, head coach Dan Lanning met with reporters and discussed his team’s showing at Autzen Stadium.
Here are some of the key quotes from Lanning’s postgame press conference, with a bit of added context to his answers.
Q: Was the plan to play (starting quarterback Bo Nix) in the fourth quarter?
Lanning: “Yeah that was the plan. We were trying to play football today and get better at football.”
Context: Oregon’s green squad featured two scholarship quarterbacks — senior starter Bo Nix and true freshman Austin Novosad — while redshirt sophomore Ty Thompson was the lone scholarship signal-caller on the yellow squad.
With the way Oregon’s squads were divided up on Saturday, Novosad was expected to get the majority of the second-half work for the green squad after Nix worked with the first unit in the first half. Thompson, meanwhile, was expected to run the show all afternoon for the yellow squad.
However, Nix stayed on the field for the first drive of the second half and Novosad didn’t take over until midway through the third quarter. Novosad got plenty of work later in the half, and it appeared that Nix’s day was done after the freshman entered the game.
But after Thompson connected with Kris Hutson for a 70-yard completion to set up a touchdown that put the yellow team ahead 14-10, Nix returned to the game and ultimately led the green squad to a comeback win.
“For sure when we got down I definitely wanted to go back in,” Nix said after the game.
Q: Does a game like today give you more confidence in what Cole Martin can do?
Lanning: “Cole’s a good player. I think he’s exactly what we thought was gonna be. He had a great spring practice. He’s super competitive. I think what makes Cole special is he’s the guy who’s gonna be up here at 6 a.m., get an ice bath, doing the extra and he knows he’s required. Obviously, he’s a coach’s kid. So he does a little bit extra from that standpoint, too. But he had some highlights today. I’m sure he’ll say some stuff he wants to improve.”
Context: Freshman defensive back Cole Martin was one of the breakout stars of Oregon’s 2023 spring game.
Martin, who operated at nickel for the green squad, finished the afternoon with three tackles and a pass breakup. He was excellent in coverage during the first half and also returned a punt for 29 yards.
Martin arguably had the best day of any of the Ducks’ true freshmen.
Q: How do you think Ty Thompson handled the first quarter?
Lanning: “That’s football sometimes. We had some batted balls early, some adversity early. We didn’t complete some and had some slow starts. Then, to be able to get some shots at the end, I think that was big.”
Context: Thompson, the Ducks’ backup quarterback last season, did not complete a pass until his seventh attempt of the day. Senior EDGE Mase Funa was disruptive early in the game and knocked down Thompson’s second pass of the opening drive.
But the redshirt sophomore signal-caller bounced back and performed well from that point. Thompson finished the day 16-for-34 with a game-high 274 yards. He linked up with Tez Johnson for a 67-yard touchdown and later found Kris Hutson for a 70-yard completion.
Q: How happy were you with the physicality of the secondary today?
Lanning: “I think we’re a more physical team. I think it starts up front, but it certainly carries over to the back end. We certainly have guys that can make some plays on balls, which is a positive.”
Context: It’s no secret that Oregon struggled to stop opposing passing attacks last season.
While the Ducks featured plenty of individual talent in the secondary, they ranked 102nd nationally in passing yards allowed per game.
On Saturday, Oregon’s re-vamped secondary looked like a much more physically-imposing unit. The Ducks’ trio of offseason transfer portal additions — Khyree Jackson, Tysheem Johnson, and Evan Williams — all had bright moments.
Martin and fellow ’23 signee Solomon Davis also stood out in the secondary.
Q: Was this the type of performance that you guys have seen from Tez Johnson all spring?
Lanning: “Tez has speed, I think that’s shown up. He’s got burst and that’s shown up consistently throughout spring and that’s why he’s here.”
Context: Receiver Tez Johnson, who transferred to Oregon during the offseason after spending the last three seasons at Troy, put his playmaking abilities on display Saturday.
The 5-foot-10 speedster shredded the green defense for a 67-yard touchdown early in the third quarter.
Oregon’s coaches have raved about Johnson’s speed since he joined the program. On Saturday, the Ducks’ fan base saw firsthand what he brings to the table.
Q: What did you make of Bryce Boettcher’s performance today?
Lanning: “You talk about impressive people, I told him ‘They better have a camera following you today, Bryce.’ Because he’s headed to the park right now, pushing everyone in the locker room saying ‘Coach is it okay if I go?’ I said ‘Go play the game, you’re good!’
So, you guys have to keep me updated on how he’s doing but he’s had a great baseball season. Certainly a valuable Duck.”
Context: Oregon defensive back and two-sport standout Bryce Boettcher made a significant impact for the yellow squad on Saturday.
Midway through the third quarter, Boettcher made two big tackles to force the green squad into a third-down scenario. Then, on the ensuing play, he broke up a pass to tight end Kenyon Sadiq to kill the drive.
For any other walk-on junior, that would have registered as an overwhelmingly successful afternoon. But Boettcher’s work wasn’t finished.
After the spring game concluded, he raced over to PK Park and suited up for No. 23 Oregon baseball’s showdown with No. 12 Arizona State.
Although Boettcher arrived long after the first pitch had been thrown, head coach Mark Wasikowski still leaned on him late in the game.
In the top of the ninth inning, Boettcher replaced leadoff man Rikuu Nishida and played the final inning of Oregon’s 16-10 win in right field.
Q: Are there certain positions you have on the top of your transfer portal list?
Q: Would you care to discuss them?
Oregon’s 2023 scholarship count currently sits at 83. In the coming days, we should learn plenty about how Lanning and his staff plan to continue building their roster.
The post Key quotes from Dan Lanning following Oregon’s spring game, with context appeared first on On3.