Oregon coach Dan Lanning took all the blame after his team’s 36-33 loss to Washington.
“I think this game is 100% on me,” Lanning said in his postgame news conference.”I don’t think you guys have to look anywhere else besides me.”
The Ducks went for it three times on fourth down and failed to convert all three of those attempts. Two came inside Washington’s 10-yard line while the final fourth-down effort set up Washington’s game-winning touchdown.
While none of the decisions worked out, there were good reasons for Lanning to have his team be aggressive on those fourth downs. Let’s go through them all.
After Jahlil Florence intercepted Michael Penix Jr. at midfield with 55 seconds to go, Oregon had a chance to take a lead into halftime.
The Ducks trailed 22-18 and that four-point deficit is significant. Oregon would be trailing if it kicked a field goal before halftime and Lanning knew Washington would be kicking off to start the third quarter. A go-ahead TD could have helped Oregon get a two-score lead if it was able to get a touchdown to start the second half.
Bo Nix completed a pass to Tez Johnson to the Washington 3 on second down and left the Ducks two downs to get a TD before halftime. After a third-down pass fell incomplete with six seconds left, Oregon could have taken a chip-shot field goal from a tight angle on the left hash or go for the lead.
Lanning chose to have his team go for the lead. The play call was a sprint to the right for Nix and no one was open in the end zone.
“We felt that was an opportunity for us to get a touchdown and a touchdown changes the game and obviously we’re probably not talking about it if we get a touchdown,” Lanning said of both red-zone fourth-down calls. “That said, the one before half is one where you could really go back and say let’s take that field…