It's August, which means time is winding down to opening day for the Oregon Ducks football team, and Chip Kelly has yet to name his starting quarterback for 2012.
With Oregon closing practices to the media, pretty much everyone but the coaching staff and the players are in the dark on who has the edge in this arms race. As far as we know, neither Bryan Bennett or Marcus Mariota have done anything to make themselves the favorite to lead the Ducks in their campaign for a fourth straight conference title.
To me, however, the answer is easy. Bryan Bennett is going to be named the starting quarterback for Oregon in the next couple weeks.
Yes, Mariota simply outplayed Bennett in the spring game, but that should not be the only thing any of us look at in naming a starter.
In the past, experience has been a big part in Chip Kelly naming his starting quarterback.
Before Darron Thomas was named the starter, he had played sparingly in his freshmen season, including almost leading the Ducks to a comeback victory over Boise State.
Bennett entered the game against Nevada and Missouri State with the Ducks up big, and when Thomas went down with an injury against Arizona State, Bennett stepped in and held onto the victory.
He even made a start at Colorado last season with Thomas still hobbled with his knee injury.
Doing well in practice and doing well in a game are two completely different things. Mariota may be playing well against the scout teams right now, but will he do the same against Stanford or USC?
What we do know is that Bennett has actually played in a college game. That experience is invaluable.
This is no knock on Mariota's passing ability, but Bennett is clearly the better of the two when it comes to the passing game.
In 2009, with Jeremiah Masoli at quarterback—not an incredibly good passer—Oregon went 10-3 and lost the Rose Bowl.
In 2010 and 2011, with Darron Thomas as the starter—a much better passing quarterback—Oregon went 24-3, went to the National Championship game, where it lost by a last-minute field goal, and won the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1917.
My point? Oregon's spread offense has worked better with a quarterback that can play competitively in the passing game.
Playing a better passer like Bennett would behoove Kelly and the Ducks.
Being the veteran of the two, Bennett has the majority of the Oregon team behind him.
He bolstered that trust early in the spring when he organized team drills in the dead period where coaches are not allowed to have officially practice.
By taking that step to show that he is a leader, Bennett boosted his chances at being named the starting quarterback.
A quarterback is supposed to be the leader of the team, and Bennett definitely was the better leader over Mariota.