The Oregon Ducks made some huge plays on both sides of the ball Saturday night to earn a 20-17 win over the Utah Utes. They battled injuries, momentum swings and everything in between.
Head coach Dan Lanning met with reporters following the game to give his thoughts and analysis of Oregon's play.
Below is a complete transcript of his press conference.
Opening statement: That was a lot of fun and man we made some mistakes but we competed till the very end. Offense, defense, special teams, really a complete team win. Certainly some moments we want to have back I thought this game all the way going into it was going to come down to takeaways. I didn't realize it was gonna go both ways really on that. There was I think three on both sides. Gotta care of the ball and games like that. But that being said, we just felt like every time we took the field offensively all we needed was one more play. One more opportunity. Defense I think they had their back against the wall a couple times and they came up big made some great plays. I can't say enough about our quarterback to play in this game after being banged up. Really having limited practice reps and obviously that was that was certainly newsworthy to everybody else. But for him to go out there and have a gutsy performance was really important and special for this team. Excited for our win. There's a lot of love in that locker room, and that's a good team we just played. I got more respect probably for Coach Whittingham than anybody else in this conference. He's won a lot of ballgames, and that's a good team. And for our team to win a tough game like that was a lot of fun."
On Bo Nix, his late game conversion on third-and-one, digging deep while playing hurt
Lanning: "Certainly was a different game. I don't think it's any secret. We asked Bo right before that play. Hey, you can we run it? Can we run this play? Knowing that the two options were either to hand it off on the flat that we'd handed off before, or for him to keep it and he said absolutely. The guy's got heart. Cares about the game and cares about his team and I think it shows in the way he plays."
On what Bo Nix was doing during the week to be able to play and when the decision was made
Lanning: "He was an aggressive rehab specialist. That's what we like to term it. He was attacking rehab religiously. I know he would sit here and credit our training staff and we got a great medical staff here sports science group that always was keeping the main thing the main thing. The first piece and priority was always his health. To be honest, early in the week I didn't know that he would be able to go. But he was aggressive. He continued to work at it. He continued to push. Our medical group did a phenomenal job of assessing where he was at. Later in the week we came more and more aware that we felt like hey, this might be a possibility, let's just see where it goes. And they did a great job. This was one of those times where Pac-12 after dark was a good thing. It gave us a little bit more time for rehab. All the way up until the game. I remember talking to Bo yesterday and saying hey we still got 36 more hours a rehab. Which is pretty impressive when you talk about him."
On Bennett Williams vs. Utah, his character
Lanning: "Bennett Williams is a tough kid man. He's a tough kid that has high expectations for himself. And when his best was needed, he showed up. Today he did a great job. Always competes and was glad that he could make some big plays for this team."
On how satisfying it is for him and how big of a deal it is for the players to get this win
Lanning: "We talked about playing this game with an uncommon purpose. We wanted to play this game for stuff bigger than just us. This game was about the seniors taking the field for the last time here in Autzen. This game was about Spencer Webb. This game was about being an ultimate team win and really not worrying about the opinions of others. I think sometimes our best shows up when everyone else doubts us which, we certainly take note."
On Dont'e Thornton's performance
Lanning: "Great adjustment on that last big ball there at the end. He's a guy that's got the dominant traits. He can run He's big. He's got size. He's a phenomenal kid and to see him have some big moments, especially after he had the fumble there early on. To see him recover and make big impact for our team was huge."
On the energy he saw from the defense tonight
Lanning: "I think all we saw tonight was the standard that they want to uphold and that they want to play to. It's that small. I know it doesn't always look that small. We're this close at times at being really special and playing at an elite level and I think that showed up more tonight. What we have to do is do that consistently, but those guys just came to work. They have high expectations for themselves and it was good to see them go out there and perform."
On the play of the defensive line vs. Utah
Lanning: "We talked about this is a team that runs the wide zone, outside zone, stretch plays and we said the way you win that is with knock back. We want to see knock back at the line of scrimmage. Reestablish the line of scrimmage. I thought that showed up on a lot of the negative plays that we were able to create. That showed up from our defensive line. Several of those balls that were incomplete or interceptions, that was because of tip balls or guys in throwing windows. And it's something we didn't do very well last week. And those guys knew was something we had to improve on and it showed up, made a big impact on this game."
On if he tries to avoid Pac-12 title, Rose Bowl chatter
Lanning: "There's an awareness obviously of what exists in front of us but I think we've played our best when we focused on what's next. That was an elite game. All of our focus and attention was on that game. Now it's gonna be on the next one and you worry about the things you can control. What we can control is how we go perform now against a really good Oregon State team. We're gonna enjoy this win tonight and then tomorrow we're gonna be hard at work for that."
On how he puts a value on the response from his team responding to adversity
Lanning: "I don't know that you do. Yeah, I don't know. The reality is you played a really good team there and that's a game that could go either way. It got tighter than it needed to go. But for our guys to fight and be as resilient as they are there at the end, to have that result--I'm really proud that they were able to come out on the right end of that, because regardless of the result that was a tough fought game for our guys and I'm glad they get to be on the right side of it."
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On why Bennett Williams had the resiliency to come back and make the game-saving interception
Lanning: "He's tough, man. He knows what's required. He's not gonna sit here and have the poor me's. Sometimes you learn the most through adversity. And he learned through some adversity. I think our entire team learned through some adversity. That game last week wasn't Bennett's fault. It was our team. It was my fault. But he took an opportunity to make a play in this game and execute--and several plays in this game at a high level and I'm proud that he was able to do that."
On how key it was for the offensive line to keep Bo Nix clean in the pocket while he lacked mobility
Lanning: "Super important. Important to throw the ball in time. Important for those guys to keep him clean. For the most part was able to do that. I think when he was able to make elite decisions and get the ball out when it needed to be out. And those guys protect him and certainly helped."
On how close Alex Forsyth was to playing, Ryan Walk's performance at center
Lanning: "To be determined. Alex is tough. I think everybody in this room knows that if he could have been out there he would have been out there helping this team. This is that time of year. We got a lot of guys banged up and it's called Vitamin T--little bit of toughness, man and Ryan Walk's got toughness. Bo Nix's got toughness. Got a lot of guys out there playing with nicks and bruises and they're and performing at a high level. That's what it takes, that's what's required. It requires a little bit of toughness and availability and it was good to see him be able to go out there and perform."
On if he took a more active role on defensive play calling this week
Lanning: "It was a team effort. Our success was a team effort. Our guys were bought in to what was required for us to be successful. Felt like we had a good beat on what they did and they did a really good job of that."
On the strategy behind Oregon's first offensive play of the second half
Lanning: "You guys can critique that one. That was poor. It didn't work out well, obviously. I'm glad that that didn't cost us the game. But great learning moment for me and our staff."
On Oregon's run game not being effective
Lanning: "Certainly more of what they did and obviously we were conscientious of how much we're going to run Bo. So sometimes when teams play the way they're playing the answer is to pull the ball and that wasn't something we were really willing to do in this game."
On Terrance Ferguson's block to spring Noah Whittington, little things adding up to game-winning field goal
Lanning: "You talk about how you play when you don't have the ball. Something we came in after last week. We challenged ourselves to play better without the ball and it's something that happened early in the season. So to see guys strain like that to make a block that makes a difference is huge."
On the mood of the defense coming off a tough loss
Lanning: "Hungry and disappointed. I think I told the team after that game that I was angry and embarrassed for myself. I think a lot of the players shared the same sentiment like but instead of sitting there crying over spilt milk, we said let's just get to work and figure out how we can get better. And you know what, it's a new game now. You can't rest on what we just did, because we gotta go play another game, and gotta go try to play at a high level, but those guys are resilient. They do a good job."
On what the next 48 hours look like for Bo Nix
Lanning: "I'll let Kris Hutson answer that. We're just gonna get back to work and keep attacking it."
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