UTAH UTES

An Early Look At Utes’ 2023 Football Opponents: Oregon Ducks

Jun 22, 2023, 12:46 PM

SALT LAKE CITY – Spring ball is over, and the summer months are upon us making it a great time to take an early look at Utah football’s 2023 opponents with this week’s focus on the Oregon Ducks.

Week nine won’t be any easier for Utah than week eight when they pay USC a visit in L.A. While the Utes will get to be in the comfort of Rice-Eccles Stadium once more, they will have to host Oregon who at least this early in the game, look to be another contender for the Pac-12 Conference Championship in 2023.

In what is likely the toughest stretch for Utah going back-to-back weeks against two top conference opponents, this could be a make-or-break as to who continues on in the title race and who is out. Much like USC, Oregon State and Utah, the Ducks return a lot of key talent that gives pundits confidence they will be good again in the coming season. Add in that first-time head coach Dan Lanning will be in his second year, though offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham took the head coaching vacancy at Arizona State, and there is reason to believe in Oregon.

 

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The When And Where Of Oregon Vs. Utah Football

When: Saturday, October 28

Where: Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, Utah

Time: TBD

Network: TBD

What We Know About The Ducks Heading Into 2023

As briefly mentioned above, there is quite a bit of continuity for the Ducks heading into 2023 minus offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham moving on to be a head coach. Will that have any effect on Oregon’s performance this year? Hard to say for sure at the moment.

The Utes know all about the pains of changing offensive coordinators every year, but every team is different and handles various (potential) roadblocks in their own ways. It’s also worth noting that by the time the Ducks hit Salt Lake City, if there were any early growing pains, they probably should be ironed out by that point based on the veteran talent returning.

Who Is Oregon’s New OC?

Lanning hired Will Stein on December 7, 2022, to replace Dillingham. Stein is a young coach (much like Lanning) at 33 but has a pretty impressive early resume with his time at UTSA.

Stein spent three seasons with the Roadrunners as the program’s co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2022 and the passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach starting in 2020.

Last season, UTSA’s offense ranked No. 9 nationally in total offense at 486.1 yards per game, No. 12 in scoring offense at 38.7 points per game and No. 12 in passing offense with 308.6 yards per game.

With how quarterback Bo Nix adapted and grew with the Ducks last season after just being ok during his time at Auburn, this could be a very exciting pairing for Oregon heading into a juggernaut of a season in the Pac-12.

Who Are The Key Players For Oregon?

We already briefly talked about Nix and how important his relationship with new offensive coordinator Will Stein will be to the success of the Ducks, but teams are more than just one player, though, quarterback is always an important one.

On top of Nix returning, the Ducks will get to enjoy their running back duo again in Bucky Irving and Noah Whittington.

Additionally, Oregon has also been busy bolstering other areas of need on the offense through the Transfer Portal. Wide receivers Traeshon Holden and Tez Johnson, along with offensive linemen Junior Angilau and Ajani Cornelius come with high hopes and expectations of helping Oregon get over the hump in 2023.

The real heavy lifting for the Ducks came on the defensive side of the ball. Between having a year under their belt with Lanning and coordinator Tosh Lapoi, as well as improving the talent on that side of the ball, there is optimism the unit will be much stronger in 2023.

Key returners from last year’s team include defensive end Brandon Dorlus, defensive lineman Casey Rogers and linebacker Jeffrey Bassa. They will be joined by transfers Jestin Jacobs and Connor Soelle at linebacker, cornerback Khyree Jackson, pass rusher Jordan Burch, and safeties Tysheem Johnson and Evan Williams.

Michelle Bodkin is the Utah Utes Insider for KSLsports.com and host of both the Crimson Corner Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and The Saturday Show (Saturday from 10 a.m.–12 p.m.) on The KSL Sports Zone. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @BodkinKSLsports

 

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An Early Look At Utes’ 2023 Football Opponents: Oregon Ducks