Previewing the Oregon Ducks: Quarterbacks

Joe PenkalaCorrespondent IJune 27, 2009

CORVALIS, OR - NOVEMBER 29:  Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli #2 of the Oregon Ducks looks to make a pass play during their game against the Oregon State Beavers at Reser Stadium on November 29, 2008 in Corvalis, Oregon. The Ducks defeated the Beavers 65-38. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Going into 2008, quarterback was a huge question mark for the Ducks after the departure of Senior Dennis Dixon. On top of that, another hurdle for the Ducks would be to keep their quarterbacks healthy, considering they were down to their fifth-string QB by the end of the year.

The Ducks entered the year with Justin Roper under center as the starter but also mixed in newcomers Jeremiah Masoli and Chris Harper. It wasn't long again before the Ducks' bad luck continued.

The Ducks had already lost their true starting quarterback, Nate Costa, a week before the season kicked off and now after three games they had lost Justin Roper to a knee injury.

As the season continued, the focus shifted to Masoli, as he continued to develop week after week.

Masoli capped off his year by being named Holiday Bowl MVP and looked to improve on that this year.

Thats bring us to the present and the current Ducks depth chart.

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Jeremiah Masoli- Starter

Masoli improved by leaps and bounds last year and is the clear-cut starter in Eugene. Masoli is both a pass and run threat and is not afraid to put his head down and go for extra yardage.

The focus this off-season for Masoli has been developing as a passer. It became quite obvious from last year that Masoli can create with his feet, but he still has some work to do both on his deep ball and learning to put some touch on his short passes.

Many national outlets believe that if Masoli can strengthen his passing game, he will be in the Heisman conversation.

Nate Costa- Backup

Costa is a player that all Duck fans feel for. He has continued to put in his work and develop as a quarterback, but for the second straight year, he suffered a season-ending knee injury, forcing him into surgery.

Costa has again fought his way back into the conversation and continues to recover from surgery and has looked good in the spring. He is a mobile QB with a good arm and is a solid fit for the Ducks' spread offense.

Unfortunately for Costa, he seems destined to be in a backup role with Junior Jeremiah Masoli under center.

Darron Thomas- Backup

The hope of the coaching staff last year was to redshirt Thomas and allow him to have an extra year to develop. That plan was quickly thrown out against Boise State last year.

During the game, Masoli was knocked out on a cheap late hit and Chris Harper was wildly ineffective.

Late in the third quarter, the Ducks turned to Thomas, who led a spirited comeback, throwing three touchdowns, but the Ducks still came up short as they were unable to recover an onside kick.

Throughout 2008, Thomas was used in different spots and showed glimpses of greatness, but you could still see that development was needed.

Coming into 2009, the coaching staff again hoped to use a redshirt of Thomas but due to the transfer of Justin Roper, this may not be possible.

Thomas has a strong arm and can certainly move around the pocket but needs to work on his accuracy. If the Ducks are able to get Thomas an extra year to develop, Duck fans could be in store for a couple of great years with Thomas under center.

Group Grade

Assuming everyone is able to stay healthy (knocking on wood), the Ducks are very strong under center and should be for the next few years.

Throughout the spring, Masoli has continued to work on his passing and should he improve, even slightly, the Ducks are in store for another great year.

Grade: A-