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Building Lanning’s Defense: Who’s Calling the Shots?

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We haven’t seen an official announcement or media introduction yet, but it appears that Dan Lanning has hired Chris Hampton to replace Matt Powledge, who left to become the DC at Baylor. Hampton’s twitter bio states that he is Oregon’s Co-Defensive Coordinator and Safeties coach, and there are tweets that show he is out on the recruiting trail, which is ...

 
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We haven't seen an official announcement or media introduction yet, but it appears that Dan Lanning has hired Chris Hampton to replace...
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Thanks David for this article!  That question is on a lot of fans' minds.  I think everyone wants the defense to improve.

 

Chris Hampton does have a long career coaching the back end of the defense.  Stopping USC in the Cotton Bowl was sweet! 

 

Tosh Lupoi is a motivator which is good to have on the sideline.  Watching video of Hampton coaching in practice shows that he is too.

 

Hopefully, as fans, we'll find out more in Spring practices.  Go Ducks!

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Thank you David for your thoughts and feelings on this topic. The art of play calling may very well be a skill that not all DC's can master.

 

The 2022 Duck defense was less than inspiring. Yet without the late game defensive heroics against the Cougars and the complete D Dominance against Utah, OBD's would have been 7-5. 

 

Whether it was poor play calling or poor player execution doesnt matter. The D surrender 27+ points per game. All of it needs improving. All of it!

 

Thankfully the Duck O averaged nearly 40 points a game and a 10 win season was the result. Thankfully Bo is coming back and thst leadership should keep the Duck O scoring points 

 

Whoever calls the D plays will need to see stronger player development and on field performance. Would like to see the D surrendering less than 23 points per game. It looks like the top 10 recruiting and portal signees may be bringing the key players to make that happen.

 

Go Ducks!

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On 1/24/2023 at 7:09 AM, HappyToBeADuck said:

All of it needs improving. All of it!

They certainly have flipped the roster. So I think that should help pretty quickly because these are the players Lanning wants rather than players he has inherited. 

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Why co-defensive coordinators? salaries?

 

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Great article on a topic that pulled me from my deep hibernation caused by the end of the college football season.

 

I really don't care who calls the plays. All I know is the buck stops with Lanning. As a defensive guru, the defense is his responsibility and his alone.

 

A head coach MUST have success on the side of the ball he is a specialist in (see Riley, DeBoer, etc.)

 

Now Lanning has "his guys", so from my point of view, my critique of the defense will only grow more intense.

 

I think we'll see improvement next year . . . Go Ducks!

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Thanks for the article, David.  Given the fact that OBD have brought in 16 new DL/Edge guys and now have 50 total Defensive players on the roster, it seems Coach thinks our defensive deficit was primarily upfront and that the lack of pressure exposed the secondary. 

 

The play-calling question is one I don't have an answer for, but your conclusions regarding the strengths of Lupoi and Hampton ring true to me.  Could one posit that the personnel was the larger issue last season which caused play calls to have the additional burden of trying to mask a huge roster weakness in addition to countering opponent sets and down/distance concerns?

 

I'll leave it to the site gurus to parse those distinctions.  Again, thanks for a great read and ponder point!

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With the caliber of QBs in the PAC 12, the pass defense will be tested often. Improvements in pass defense will take place as soon as the number of sacks/QB pressures increases. 
 

Whether the problem is play calling, or personnel issues, DL is ultimately responsible for the product that takes the field. While you always want bigger, better, faster personnel, you still have to coach and scheme the players that you have available.

 

I will be cautiously optimistic that we see improvements on the defensive side of the ball. 

 

 

 

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Great article David!  I think you covered all of the high points very well but I would throw in one extra wrinkle to the play calling situation and that's compensation.  Every quality coach wants to progress, just like the players.  Tosh is the DC here at Oregon because he wants to continue to grow his skillset.  As you said in the article he's an excellent recruiter, position coach and motivator and I also believe he has a high football IQ but as you pointed out this doesn't always mean he can excel as a situational play caller.  Tosh needs to develop as a playcaller to progress as a coach and that I think is part of the compensation that brought him to Oregon.  Pulling playcalling away from Tosh could cause him to look for other opportunities to grow as a playcaller.

 

That puts DL in a bit of a tough spot as the HC as he needs effective defensive playcalling for Oregon to win but he also needs Tosh to help him build the defense to win.  DL can't and shouldn't do it all.  Ultimately one of the major responsibilities of the head coach is developing his coaching staff.  I believe him when he says playcalling is a combined responsibility but as you said, someone has to react at the speed of the game and make critical changes to effect the game. 

 

Ultimately what we should expect is that DL sets an attainable standard for players and coaches and holds them to that standard.  He needs a get well plan for the defensive playcalling and DL calling plays is the worst kind of bandaid and will sink the program in the long run.  He needs to put in the work with the defensive staff to get this right.  If he has a coach that he believes can't meet the standard then he has to have an honest discussion about that and possibly look for a replacement.

 

I think TL is a net asset for the Ducks by most measures, if the program can correct the situational play calling then the sky is the limit.  If the play calling can't be corrected DL has to make adjustments.  One thing is for sure, I don't really know any other way for the staff to learn playcalling then by doing it. 

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It is my belief that Lanning approaches the DC play-calling as he did the entire defense this last year.  As DazeNconfused and I wrote about, (he'll be back but has some computer issues) Lanning checked what he had, tried to run the defenses he wanted early in the season, and when it failed--he switched to a high percentage approach. (Cover-2, and simulated pressures with only four rushing)

 

I believe that Lanning knew of Lupoi's need to learn play-calling, thus Powledge and Lanning were there to help.  I believe the same format is being applied with the new hire, thus the "Co-Defensive Coordinator" title given Hampton, as Powledge had.

 

Lupoi is a powerful defensive line recruiter, as he has helped to attract the most talent ever recruited to Oregon at one time, thus his value to the staff is immeasurable.  Like the 2022 defense, you find a way to make it work for now, and gradually--it will all get better.  It starts with bringing in the talent, and Tosh is doing that. Over time Lupoi will improve, and he has Hampton and Lanning "helping" him with the play-calls.  Again...this is all speculation on my part, but one that appears to be connecting the obvious dots.

 

It is what I would do if I wanted one of the of the best recruiters in the college game on my staff. Reap the benefits of his skills, and help overcome his weaknesses.

 

Lupoi and Lanning 2022_Eugene JohnsonWP.jpg

 

Great article David!

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Mr. FishDuck

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On 1/24/2023 at 9:57 AM, Duck Fan 76 said:

Every quality coach wants to progress

Thank you for the great article David. I feel you were spot on. 

 

I also liked this point by Duck Fan 76. I to feel Tosh came to the Ducks to learn from Dan Lanning. Tosh knows there are small things needed for him to be a great DC. Why not learn from one of (if not) the best DC in the college game. To me it feels like Tosh is great at being a teacher. But, not necessarily great at plan development. This is what he is working on. To me it appears that Chris Hampton may have a step up on Tosh in this regard. I do not know enough about Hampton to speak of his teaching skills. Perhaps this is something Tosh has a leg up on him. Dan Lanning being the mastermind I believe him to be may be putting both of these coaches into great positions for both to learn and develop their coach acumen further.

 

With this coaching change and the roster moves I'm not sure how the defense can not take a step forward. Lanning is building something in special Eugene. Let's enjoy the ride.

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The underachieving defense of 2022 is certainly a head-scratcher.  There's a lot of emphasis here on play calling and rightfully so, but there are other factors at play (yeah I did it).  The perfect play call won't work if the players aren't coached up properly and can't execute it.  That said, if TL can't call plays (we all remember what happened at Alabama) then we are not getting our money's worth out of him IMHO.  He's the highest paid DC we've ever had by a sizeable amount.

 

One season is too small a sample size and I expect the 2023 defense to look completely different, but let's face it the bar is set pretty low right now.

 

 

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On 1/24/2023 at 10:40 AM, noDucknewby said:

The perfect play call won't work if the players aren't coached up properly and can't execute it. 

I saw the same blitzes run by Georgia in the 'Natty that were devastating, but when Oregon ran the same ones...not the same result.  I think it is more the players last year, and their inexperience with what they were learning?

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Mr. FishDuck

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On 1/24/2023 at 9:44 AM, idontrollonshobbas said:

Thanks for the article, David.  Given the fact that OBD have brought in 16 new DL/Edge guys and now have 50 total Defensive players on the roster, it seems Coach thinks our defensive deficit was primarily upfront and that the lack of pressure exposed the secondary. 

 

I think this was the biggest problem last year. No pass rush meant that the secondary could get picked apart all day and some days they did. The secondary has its problems but over the course of the year the secondary really did improve quite a bit. 

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Who is calling the defense, well if it was Lanning then there were problems. I would say it was Lanning too many times, and not enough.

 

When you have two DC's and the Head Coach has to step in, there are issues.  Excuses can be made, but we now have the guys we want, and another shot at a functional coaching staff.

 

The only problem is some of the guys are young, but we should have enough buy-in. We just might not see the complete defense we want. It takes time and we still need on field leadership. That will be critical, somebody on the field as the general, or leaders.

 

Last season I would say there were coaching issues on and off the field with the defense. The defense didn't perform and the athletes didn't improve. When you have a 5* getting more bench time as the season progresses, and then he transfers, there were issues. 

 

This season I want to see all guys improve, and the defensive coaching staff hummmmm. 

 

We shouldn't have to put guys on the field who can't perform. We also shouldn't have coaches on the sideline who can't develop, and run a defense gametime. I look for progress in player development and coaching development. 

 

Great ponder point Mr. Marsh, hopefully the guys getting paid for it are calling the plays this season. I also hope Lanning can just do his job, and smile while thinking about how he can incrementally improve all aspects, not take over anything.

 

 

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On 1/24/2023 at 9:46 AM, Drake said:

With the caliber of QBs in the PAC 12, the pass defense will be tested often. Improvements in pass defense will take place as soon as the number of sacks/QB pressures increases. 
 

Whether the problem is play calling, or personnel issues, DL is ultimately responsible for the product that takes the field. While you always want bigger, better, faster personnel, you still have to coach and scheme the players that you have available.

 

I will be cautiously optimistic that we see improvements on the defensive side of the ball. 

 

 

 

And we'll be one of those prolific offenses. .the Pac will come down to the better D.  I like the chances of OSU, Utah, and hopefully us, compared to UW or USuC.  We'll have the talent if star ratings mean anything, the coaches, player development,  and--Play Calling-- will perhaps decide. 

 

Bad play calling on offense perhaps cost us UW and OSU games.  D needs a revamp, obviously, Lanning has "his guys" now.  13-0, let's see what we can do in the playoffs

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On 1/24/2023 at 12:28 PM, JDuck said:

Bad play calling on offense perhaps cost us UW and OSU games.  D needs a revamp, obviously, Lanning has "his guys" now.  13-0, let's see what we can do in the playoffs

We might tap the breaks just a little bit. I don't think Lanning has "all" his guys. And they have not all been developed very much (40 freshmen?????) So, expecting the moon this year might be a little optimistic, even for me. It's still going to take a couple years to get the defensive motor humming.

 

The sheer number of edge rushers we recruited and "portalled" in tells me DL doesn't know which ones will truly fit the D. We recruited enough to get at least four that should fit. Talk about a full room and tons of competition to get on the field...

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