Dan Lanning bringing Georgia approach to Oregon; QB Bo Nix ready for take off with Ducks
ATHENS — Georgia will see some familiar faces across the field, and across the line of scrimmage, when it opens the season against Oregon on Sep. 3.
Former Bulldogs defensive coordinator Dan Lanning is the new head coach of the Ducks, and it’s likely former Auburn quarterback Bo Nix will be under center.
Georgia, the reigning national championship program, will likely be a strong favorite over Oregon with the game being played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Lanning indicated this week he hasn’t looked at measuring the Ducks’ talent against the championship defensive unit he helped build with the Bulldogs.
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“What’s funny is when we were working on becoming that last year, we never put that as the goal in mind — we wanted to be the best we could be the day that we were there,” Lanning said, echoing an approach Georgia coach Kirby Smart has harped on for years.
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That makes it a good bet that Nix, with his three years of starting experience at Auburn, will be the starting quarterback.
Nix gave the 2019 Georgia team all it wanted with a furious fourth-quarter touchdown in a 21-14 loss at Jordan Hare Stadium, 30-of-50 passing for 245 yards with a TD and no interceptions, in addition to 13 carries for 42 yards and the first rushing TD of the season against the Dawgs.
Nix didn’t fair as well against Georgia in 2020, with then-coach Gus Malzahn no longer calling the plays and four new starting offensive linemen in front of him, the Bulldogs kept him pinned down.
Nix was just 21-of-40 passing for 177 yards with an interception in a 27-6 loss.
Smart knows the version of Nix Georgia will soon see will be much better and have a significantly better supporting cast.
The Georgia coach made it clear last season just how much respect he has for Nix.
“I don’t think people understand exactly how good of an athlete this guy is,” Smart said. “It’s been reported to me he has hit 22 mph on GPS. We don’t have but maybe two receivers on our entire team hit 22 mph.”
Smart explained how Nix’s ability to extend plays can stress the defense, something Lanning will certainly look to exploit knowing how inexperienced Georgia is in the secondary.
“There are plays that are 8 seconds long, and our guys on average play 3-4 seconds at a time,” Smart said. “An 8-second play is a long time. He can extend plays, he can win with his feet. He can throw and run, so it adds an extra element.”
Nix, from all OregonLive.com reports, has been a healthy fit into the Oregon quarterbacks room.
“(Nix) does a great job making things relatable to how I think,” said Ty Thompson, the most experienced of the returning Oregon quarterbacks after appearing in three games last season and completing 7 of 15 passes for 87 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
“We think very similarly. I really like Bo. He’s been a blessing to me these past couple of months. Bo has been a big blessing to me and I’m very grateful for everything he’s done, especially for this team, myself.
Nix, who had limited options at receiver last year at Auburn and was working behind four new offensive line starters in 2020, likes the talent around him in Eugene.
“I would say Oregon has some great players and I am excited to be on their team,” Nix said, per a 247Sports transcript. “Great defensive players, great offensive players, great coaches. Now, it’s just fitting together.
The Ducks have an experienced offensive line, which Lanning knows will be important against Smart’s aggressive, multiple defensive fronts in the Sept. 3 opening game.
Nix is working with offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham, who coached him his freshman season at Auburn in 2019.
There are some differences, but Nix has experience changing things up from season to season and sounds comfortable.
“This is my fourth different offense, third different head coach, and second new team,” Nix said. “I am excited about it. I’ve adapted to change enough over time and I’ve started to embrace the challenges. I like where I am at right now and looking to move on in the future.”