Dan Lanning put a double scoop of hubris in his Wheaties

Dan Lanning put a double scoop of hubris in his Wheaties

Saying “Field goals aren’t going to win this game” is a catch-all along the lines of “No offense, but …” and “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.” It’s more of a philosophy than a strategy, and removes all nuance from those approaches. Calling someone a pompous chumbucket is still offensive even if it’s preceded by no offense, trying to cross a bridge that’s inoperable is still going to cost you a timely detour, and field goals can still be useful in high-scoring games.

Take Dan Lanning and Oregon. Had he opted to kick a couple of times in obvious situations, the Ducks’ massive goalline stand midway through the fourth quarter against Washington seals the win, because in that scenario, they’re up 10 instead of just four.

When you’re in the middle of a shootout, but within striking range, there’s no shame in banking three points. And the potential second- and third-quarter field goals would’ve been useful in the Huskies’ 36-33 win over their biggest out-of-state rival. If I approached life with half the confidence that Lanning approaches fourth downs, I would’ve died at 26.

Michael Penix, Rome Odunze, and Ja’Lynn Polk will put the fear of god into any defense, yet the law of averages says it’s really hard to get into the endzone every time out. Tipped ball, penalty, dropped pass, missed assignment, anything. Even bad defenses get stops every now and then.

If you’re going to live by cliches, heed all of them, because I’m pretty sure “I need all the help I can get” is one that would’ve swayed Lanning to reconsider the free field goal he eschewed at the end of the first half. However, judging by his “feral dog seeing a cat for the first time” energy, I don’t know if any mantra would’ve been of use.

The play calls on those fourth downs, including the fourth, and three at the Huskie 47 with 2:11 left in the game that would’ve iced the win, were almost as concerning as the overt negligence. Bo Nix was improvising like the most veteran of Top Chefs contestants, yet it’s really hard to create in a sprint out that takes away one half of the field while putting a timer on the other.

I could understand if the Ducks were trailing by 10, leaking fuel, and fresh out of options on offense, but the Oregon running backs were getting five yards per tote, as well. If anything, the Huskies had cause for concern because their running game wasn’t humming, and Oregon’s defense made adjustments in the second half.

The Ducks came into Saturday giving up 12 points per outing, outgained Washington 541-415 overall, and ended plus-nine in time of possession; there was no reason to panic. The second-year head coach came off as either scared or arrogant. He needs to access the part of his brain that makes rash decisions and figure out a way to regulate it.

There’s a time to reach for three yards, and Lanning’s aforementioned final quarter mishap that led to the Huskies’ game-winning score was brazen, but I don’t give him credit for galaxy-braining the clock. It just so happened to work out that Nix got the ball back with enough chance to get into range.

Take just one of those gimmes earlier, and the missed kick as time expired isn’t to force overtime, it’s to avoid it.

Original source here

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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.