Oregon Football: Brief Look at the Quarterback Battle
As the smoke continues to clear from the bombshell that Darron Thomas dropped several weeks ago, the Ducks must now move on.
After announcing that he will skip his senior season to declare for the NFL Draft, Thomas left a hole at quarterback that Oregon will have trouble filling.
Not so much from the talent drop off, but the depth of talent.
According to several reports, a major reason that Thomas decided to declare was because there were no guarantees that he would be the starter in 2012.
Now we are left with three quarterbacks—Bryan Bennet, Marcus Mariota and Jake Rodrigues—all looking to rise up and fill Thomas' shoes.
We are in for one interesting arm's race.
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Wt: 205 lbs.
The only current quarterback on Oregon's roster with playing experience, Bennett enters the spring as the early favorite.
Stepping in against Nevada, Missouri State, Arizona State and a start at Colorado helped Bennett get his feet wet and is no doubt ready for more.
At 6'3" and 205 lbs., Bennett has a good frame and is looking to add more muscle to help take the hits that'll be required from a running quarterback. He has nice footwork and a good enough arm to help make all the throws that he'll need to make.
Bennett is already stepping in as a leader and is organizing Spring workouts that the coaching staff are not allowed to attend.
Wt: 205 lbs.
Mariota has been generating a lot of buzz since Darron Thomas decided to declare for the draft.
Mariota is tall like Dennis Dixon and isn't far off in the speed category. He has good arm strength and is a tall, lanky quarterback.
Like Bennett, he doesn't excel at either passing or running, but is athletic enough to have strengths in both.
Mariota was also coached by the same coach that former Duck quarterback Jeremiah Masoli had—hopefully he doesn't turn out the same.
Wt: 215 lbs.
Rodrigues has been on Oregon campus since December and has a chance to have an impact in the QB race.
He is currently recovering from a broken leg he received in his last high school game, but according to Chip Kelly will be good to go in Spring and has a chance to make a splash.
According to Bleacher Reports Recruiting Guru, Edwin Weathersby:
I think he’ll fit in well in their offense. He’s a solid athlete, so Chip will be able to do all the zone-read, designed QB run stuff with him. He shows a great arm to attack all 3 levels of the field. After a redshirt year, for Chip to show him how he wants his QBs to play, earn the offense, season up some fundamental stuff and for him to improve his field vision and awareness, he has a chance to make some noise.
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I am predicting that Bennett will ultimately win the quarterback job.
He is the only one with game experience, knows the offense the best and overall is the best option that Chip Kelly has.
While I agree that Mariota is an incredible athlete, I think he is receiving most of his hype as fans are just trying to look for someone else to watch in the quarterback race.
Bennett will start with Mariota being placed second on the depth chart, but still receiving substantial play time, while Rodrigues will most likely redshirt.
Oregon's other incoming freshmen recruit, Jeff Lockie, will most likely not be given a redshirt and will be placed third on the depth chart.
Do keep an eye, however, on Bralon Addison. He could overtake Lockie and be placed as a wildcat quarterback.