Ducks Down: Oregon QB Reins Handed to True Freshman Darron Thomas

Pete TreperinasCorrespondent ISeptember 25, 2008

After an embarrassing loss at home to Boise State, the Oregon Ducks face a bit of a quarterback crisis. With USC coming up in two weeks, the Ducks are unsure whether Justin Roper will be healthy in time, which means now is the time to solidify a potential starter in case Roper can't play.

Dennis Dixon graduated and is now a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Sophomore Nate Costa was set to be Dixon's replacement this year, but he tore his ACL before the first game and is out for the season.

Then Roper, who helped the Ducks win the Sun Bowl last year, stepped in and played well. Roper is hurt now too and will miss two to four weeks with a knee injury.

Next up was Jeremiah Masoli. His performance against Boise State was average, and then when he went out with a concussion, which gave true freshmen Chris Harper and Darron Thomas chances behind center.

Harper got a little bit of playing time at the end of Oregon's blowout season opener against Washington and led a rushing touchdown drive, and he also made a late game appearance against Utah State. It looks as if he can run the ball, which seems to be a must if you want to be a Ducks quarterback.

But it's looking like Thomas will be their man. When Masoli didn't return for the second half and Harper was playing horribly, it was Thomas' turn to play.

Here's the skinny: He's 6'3", 205 pounds, with a 39-inch vertical. There's no doubt he's an athlete who may one day be the full-time starting quarterback in Eugene. 

Thomas' performance against Boise State was actually pretty impressive. He threw three touchdown passes and only one pick for 210 yards—not bad stats for his first collegiate appearance, but the Ducks still lost, due largely to the Broncos offense.

Thomas will likely be the Ducks' quarterback for the upcoming game at Washington State, and if Roper isn't ready to go in two weeks at the Coliseum, Thomas has a great shot to start. Luckily, Washington State isn't all that great this year, giving Thomas a somewhat soft opponent to make his first career start against.

Last season, the Ducks relied heavily on the performance of Dennis Dixon, and when he went down for the year, the team lost four straight going into the Sun Bowl. When Dixon was lost, the Ducks' season was virtually lost too.

However, this year I think it's early enough in the season that Oregon can make it work with Thomas for a couple weeks if necessary, then give the reins back over to Roper.

There’s no question that the Pac-10 (minus USC) really stinks this year, which could potentially give the Ducks a chance to limp through their quarterback dilemma and still have a chance to take second.

If Thomas can put up figures similar to those of the Boise State game, Oregon shouldn’t have a problem handling WSU. The good thing about the Ducks is that they rely heavily on the running game, and with LeGarrette Blount and Jeremiah Johnson in the backfield, a lot of pressure is taken off of Thomas.

Set to make his first start, Thomas may provide a temporary solution to a quarterback problem that has finally caught up with the Ducks.