Darron Thomas to Start As Ducks QB

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Darron Thomas to Start As Ducks QB
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    When the Oregon offense takes the field a week from today against New Mexico in Autzen Stadium it will feature Darron Thomas at quarterback. Coach Chip Kelly chose Thomas after a hard fought battle with Nate Costa that lasted throughout camp. The upside for Oregon this year and in the future is huge. The implications for Thomas this year and in his future are also enormous. Some of my initial thoughts on the choice...
  • The coaches decided Thomas has enough now to beat the team they are playing now, New Mexico.
  • The "competition" seemed more about Nate Costa needing to prove he either has improved or has the potential to do so this season.
  • What Thomas can do for the Ducks in 2011 absolutely did not factor into this choice, but what he can do for them at the end of 2010 did.
  • They also aren't naive. They know the schedule and have studied the teams on the schedule this year and must believe Thomas has shown the ability to improve at a pace that will allow he and the team to peak at the right time.
  • I wrote a piece when Jeremiah Masoli was suspended for the year called "The Dawn of the Darron Thomas Era"; that Costa might start was more of an aside to Thomas taking over the job and the start of a career that on the surface looks to have endless potential.
  • Jeff Maehl made the point in the Oregonian that in his eyes, the competition is not over and that Thomas would be pushed all season by Costa, bringing out the best in him, I think he already has.
  • The fact that Kelly used both spring ball and all of fall camp to make a choice means both guys did enough to keep themselves in consideration to start.Many have noted lately that Thomas came on stronger and seemed to find more traction as camp went on.
  • You've got to believe having a fifth year senior whose entire career has been defined by missed chances breathing down his neck kept the intensity up and forced him to be at his best.
  • There has been a lot of talk about how Thomas compares to Dennis Dixon or Jeremiah Masoli in the running game. First off, comparing him to either guy is presumptive. Because Thomas looks like Dixon in a uniform does not mean he plays like him.
  • Even if it did, I don't know if that would be good for the Ducks.
  • Dixon is rightly remembered for his '07 campaign, but before that season he was platooned with Brady Leaf, hardly a ringing endorsement.
  • Dixon's redshirt was burned in 2004 and he was thrown into the fire in '05 because of the injury to Kellen Clemens, when he played mostly well. He did not play well at all in 2006 and lost the starting job.
  • Chip Kelly and the spread offense had a great deal to do with Dixon blossoming. If Dixon, labeled an inaccurate passer and Masoli, who was seen as primarily a running threat and even out of position by some, could find a rhythm then a guy like Thomas who seems more natural passer should be able to do so as well.
  • Thomas will have a more successful career than Dixon did overall because the talent level overall has increased greatly at Oregon in the past couple years.
  • How much better depends on how he develops during the next three seasons. With the guys coming in around him, the ceiling looks high, like BCS Title high.
  • The times I have seen him, Thomas has shown the ability to set his feet and deliver the ball down the field with good velocity.  He stands tall in the pocket and has a mechanically and aesthetically appealing throwing motion. Winning the job means he has improved enough to jump a guy he was behind on the depth chart last year.
  • That is good news for an Oregon offense that was unpredictable through the air while Masoli was at the helm.
  • His running ability will still be a major asset. Of course Thomas is going to have to prove to defenses that he can stress them as a ball carrier, or the read-option is going to be pretty easy for opposing defenses to read.
  • There is no doubt in my mind Thomas possesses enough athletic ability to be a major threat in the running game.
  • Much of the Oregon running game relies on getting guys in favorable matchups in space, where they can use their speed, (LaMichael James) quickness, (Kenjon Barner) or power (Jeremiah Masoli) to win one-on-one battles and create big plays.
  • As long as Thomas has the ability to either make people miss, out run them, or use his reach to break tackles with a stiff-arm, he will be able to do enough to keep the defense from keying on the running back.
  • Gotta feel for Nate Costa. As a competitor, he wanted that job probably as bad as he's ever wanted anything in his life.
  • To compound it, he has missed out on numerous chances because of injury and this is his last year.
  • That being said, he should know he is a major asset as a backup with ability and experience as well as on special teams.
  • The versatility he gives the Ducks as an insurance policy should Thomas play poorly or find himself unable to go is huge and no one needs any reminders of that.
  • Wonder what his ovation will be like on Senior Day...

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