Editor’s note: Second in a series previewing each team in the Pac-12.

Oregon coach Dan Lanning’s first season at the helm started inauspiciously with a 49-3 drubbing at the hands of eventual national champion Georgia. 

But by early November, the Ducks were vying for a Pac-12 title and a shot at the College Football Playoff.

Then came a couple of brutal losses as quarterback Bo Nix dealt with an injury. Oregon squandered leads against both Washington and Oregon State, with a home win over eventual Pac-12 champion Utah sandwiched in between. Those setbacks ended any hopes of a Pac-12 title and a CFP berth.

Still, the Ducks posted a 10-3 record last season. 

The best offseason news for Oregon came when Nix, who became a Heisman Trophy contender and engineered a high-powered offense after transferring from Auburn a year ago, decided to return for another season. 

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“There’s always room for improvement. I didn’t want to leave college with nothing to show for it,” he said. “I want to really do a good job this season and go in there and win a lot of games.

“I just wanted to exhaust everything I had in college. I didn’t want to have any regrets,” Nix added. “I was fortunate, both were great opportunities. Right now, now that I chose Oregon, it’s all-in. It’s gonna be a great season, more time to develop myself and get better.”

But can he stay healthy? Does he have enough pieces around him to improve on the 2022 campaign?

Also returning are running backs Noah Whittington and Bucky Irving, who combined to rush for 1,837 yards last season. The Ducks added some weapons from the transfer portal — receivers Traeshon Holden from Alabama and Tez Johnson from Troy. 

Other playmakers at Nix’s disposal include wide receiver Troy Franklin and tight end Terrance Ferguson. 

Oregon signed a pair of offensive linemen — Texas transfer Junior Angilau, who hails from Salt Lake City’s East High, and Ajani Cornelius, a transfer from Rhode Island. 

Lanning also hired a new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, Will Stein, replacing Kenny Dillingham, who left to become the head coach at Arizona State.

Defensively, the Ducks return starters Jeffrey Bassa, Brandon Dorlus and Casey Rogers. 

Oregon restocked by adding cornerback Khyree Jackson (Alabama); linebackers Connor Soelle (Arizona State) and Jestin Jacobs (Iowa); edge rusher Jordan Burch (South Carolina) and safeties Tysheem Johnson (Ole Miss); and Evan Williams (Fresno State). 

After the spring game, Lanning acknowledged there are some questions he wants answered. 

“Do we really truly have the depth to play as many players as we’d like to play?” he said. “We’re gonna go back and you know, continue to evaluate that. How do things sort out really on the offensive line for us? I think we have to take a hard look at that and figure out where we’re the best there and there’s just a lot of pieces, right? A lot of pieces of the puzzle.”

Oregon visits Washington on Oct. 14 and Utah on Oct. 28. The Ducks host USC on Nov. 11.

2022 record: 10-3 (7-2 Pac-12).

Utah ties

  • LB Jeffrey Bassa (Kearns HS).
  • OL Junior Angilau (East HS).
  • DL Taki Taimani (East HS).
  • OL Jackson Powers-Johnson (Corner Canyon HS).

2023 schedule

  • Sept. 2 Portland State.
  • Sept. 9 @ Texas Tech.
  • Sept. 16 Hawaii.
  • Sept. 23 Colorado.
  • Sept. 30 @Stanford.
  • Oct. 14  @Washington.
  • Oct. 21 Washington State.
  • Oct. 28 @Utah.
  • Nov. 4 California.
  • Nov. 11 USC.
  • Nov. 18 @Arizona State.
  • Nov. 24 Oregon State.
Alabama wide receiver Traeshon Holden (11) during game, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The Oregon Ducks snagged Holden out of the transfer portal. | Vasha Hunt, Associated Press