Oregon Football: Arguing Both Sides of the Ducks' Quarterback Battle

Joe PenkalaCorrespondent IAugust 9, 2012

Oct 15, 2011; Eugene, OR, USA;  Oregon Ducks quarterback Bryan Bennett (2) breaks free for a long gain against the Arizona State Sun Devils during the second half at Autzen Stadium. The Ducks beat the Sun Devils 41-27. Mandatory Credit: Jim Z. Rider-US PRESSWIRE.

Based on the players that are returning for Oregon this year, there is very little drama in figuring out how the depth chart will play out and who will be starting for the Ducks this year. One advantage that players have in both systems is that Oregon rotates in and out a lot of players regardless of who the starter is.

While the rotation keeps players fresh, one spot that does not see this kind of movement has been quarterback.

Since arriving in Eugene in 2007, Head Coach Chip Kelly has gone with a quarterback and with the exception of an injury, Kelly has allowed the chosen quarterback to go out and sink or swim on the field.

This year, Darron Thomas left school with one year of eligibility left which opened the door for Bryan Bennett and Marcus Mariota.

Both of these players have shown flashes of brilliance, but enter fall camp neck-and-neck as Kelly prepares to announce a starter towards the end of the month. 

On one hand, Bryan Bennett saw some live action last year when Darron Thomas suffered a minor knee injury. During this time, Bennett came in and helped the Ducks win a home game against Arizona State, won on the road at Colorado and came in and sparked the offense against Washington State.

While nobody is arguing that Bennett is the clear cut winner in this race, his experience and knowledge of the offense makes him an easy choice for some. Bennett has shown he has a good grasp of the read-option and when given the opportunity, he will take off with the ball. 

Bennett has also shown he can throw the ball and has good touch, but the flip side to the pro-Bennett argument is what people saw in the spring game this year.

During the spring game, Bennett was leading an offense that was missing many pieces, and when the struggles started, you could see the frustration all over his face. Fans have become concerned that if the offense is not clicking in a live game that Bennett may come unglued, despite what he showed last year.

For as rattled as Bennett looked, Marcus Mariota looked cool and calm and under control throughout the spring game. Mariota took what the defense gave him and showed fans that he was more than capable of handling the Oregon offense.

Mariota is young but appeared to play beyond his years. While he has no in-game action under his belt, the Ducks have a soft schedule to start with in September and this will allow the young quarterback to ease into the role. 

For now, Duck fans will have to continue the debate themselves as the answer will not come until late August. But for now, who do Duck fans want to see under center when they get the season started against Arkansas State? 

Joe Penkala is a B/R National Featured Columnist who covers college football. You can contact him @joepenkala.