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Oregon Football: 3 Reasons for Optimism About the Ducks in 2022

Dan Lanning, Oregon Ducks Football

New Oregon head coach Dan Lanning is known for his recruiting ability and a physical approach to the game, two hallmarks of the Ducks' recent success

From the highs of an early-season win at Ohio State, to the lows of late-season blowout losses, Oregon endured its share of tumult in 2021 — and still won 10 games.

After a tenure that produced two Pac-12 championships and three consecutive appearances in the conference's title game, Mario Cristobal left Oregon for his alma mater, Miami. A program that enjoyed direct lines of succession in coaching from Rich Brooks' hire in 1977 until the end of Mark Helfrich's time at the helm in 2016 was left making its third different head-coaching hire in just four years.

However, the Ducks seemingly landed a good one with Dan Lanning.

The former Georgia defensive coordinator brings similar recruiting acumen as his predecessor, with a physical approach to the game developed working alongside a variety of great head coaches including Kirby Smart, Nick Saban, and Willie Fritz.

1. No shortage of talent

Oregon has been the Pac-12's clear pace-setter in recruiting for a few years running, and the Ducks saw no drop-off with a change in coaching staff. UO has signed a top 25 class in each recruiting cycle since 2018, and thus has the conference's best roster in terms of star ratings.

Among the blue-chippers still in the rotation is Noah Sewell, one of the nation's top returning linebackers, while other elite recruits will have opportunities to step into more prominent roles — like high-4-star 2021 signee Troy Franklin at wide receiver.

2. Shaking up the quarterback position

With Justin Herbert's departure after the Rose Bowl-winning 2019 season, both Tyler Shough and Anthony Brown went through serious ups and downs in their respective runs as starting quarterback. Shough transferred before the 2021 season and Brown graduated, setting up an offseason quarterback competition.

Auburn transfer Bo Nix went through his own dips and peaks in three seasons as the Tigers' starter, but reuniting with quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham — Nix's OC in his best season at Auburn, 2019 — bodes well for the former 5-star recruit.

Talented Ty Thompson should get a chance to show his stuff before Week 1 against Georgia, however. Either way, freshening up the position should be a benefit to Oregon after the Ducks' 2021 late-season woes.

Related: Early 2022 Pac-12 QB Preview and Rankings

3. Strength in the trenches

A decided strength of Oregon's 2019 Pac-12 and Rose Bowl championship team was its play up front, on both sides of the ball. In 2020, the Ducks underwent an almost wholesale change on their offensive line that adversely impacted the offense.

The front five in 2022 should be Oregon's most proven since 2019, with Alex Forsyth heading up a veteran group that also returns Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu and T.J. Bass.

The loss of Kayvon Thibodeaux from the defensive line certainly strikes a blow, but having Popo Aumavae back in the middle provides an important foundation. The addition of Washington transfer Sam Taimani alleviates some of the pass-rushing presence lost with Thibodeaux's exit.

Related: 5 Newcomers to Watch for the Ducks in 2022

Podcast: Which Teams Won in the Transfer Portal? Debating Attendance Solutions and Will the Proposed Rules for Targeting and Fake Injuries Actually Help?

— Written by Kyle Kensing, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a sportswriter in Southern California. Follow him on Twitter @KyleKensing.