Who is the first player that comes to mind when you think of the Oregon Ducks football team? Marcus Mariota? Ifo Ekpre-Olomu? What about the players who dedicate just as much of their time and work ethic, and don’t see much (if any) playing time? It’s extremely challenging to earn a spot as a starter on any Division I football squad, let alone on a team as good as the Ducks. Among all the largely unsung Oregon non-starters, you could say that talented, dedicated backup quarterback Jeff Lockie arguably has the most challenging position on the team. Can you fathom the pressure he must be under, game in and game out, or the feeling in his stomach when he sees the starter go down?
I think we sometimes underestimate the importance of a good backup quarterback. With the eyes of the nation on the top players, backups are sidelined, literally. It’s often only when a starting QB goes down that fans discover his understudy’s name (Anyone know who Tom Brady’s backup is? How about Peyton Manning?). Yet these are often highly skilled players, largely relegated to calling in plays from the sideline and riding the bench.
For backup quarterbacks, waiting is the game. For some, it becomes too much. This is what happened with 2011-2012 backup Ducks quarterback Bryan Bennett, who left Eugene to assume the starting quarterback position at Southeastern Louisiana University, after two seasons with Oregon.
Why would anyone leave a powerhouse, highly-ranked football program like Oregon’s for some FCS team? The answer is simple: playing time. For some, the chance to get on the field as a starter, even if with a program that doesn’t register on the radar of most collegiate football watchers, is more attractive than playing second string on a national title contender. Luckily for the Ducks, Jeff Lockie is committed to this challenging task.
As far as Lockie is concerned, it’s hard to leave when you’re learning from an outstanding offensive coordinator like Scott Frost, and practicing with Heisman candidate Mariota. Lockie explains his experience working with the Flyin’ Hawaiian, ”It’s awesome. It’s a good experience having Marcus. He is an easy model of how it is supposed to look. So I think it is super beneficial.”
Lockie’s main competitors, Jake Rodrigues and Damion Hobbs have transferred, leaving walk-on Taylor Adie, and incoming freshman Morgan Mahalak to content with Jeff for the go-to backup role. Lockie seems undaunted: “I’m just trying to do my best to get the ball to other players. Let them catch the ball and do what they do best. That’s definitely my main focus.”
Last season, as a fan, I found myself nervous when the Ducks weren’t up by 30 at half. Know what I mean? As soon as Lockie or Rodrigues entered into the game, it felt like a win was assured. Lockie approaches each game he enters with the mentality of a calm, collected baseball closer: “Just do my job. Make sure everyone is on the same page, that we are all moving, and just score touchdowns on every drive. That is the goal now and will continue to be the goal.”
Before arriving at Oregon, Lockie was a star quarterback at Monte Vista High School, in Alamo, Calif. The transition from playing quarterback in high school, to the Ducks’ fast-paced, complex offense would be a tough assignment for anyone, both mentally and physically. Lockie’s keenly aware of the challenge: “The speed and pace of play. The guys are so much more talented than high school and move a lot faster. Then put in the fact that our offense is so much faster – you have to think quickly.”
The 6’2″, 200 lb. Redshirt sophomore has dreamed of starting for the Ducks since first walking into Autzen Stadium. With rumors of Mariota leading the candidates for the Heisman trophy this upcoming season and heading into the NFL draft in 2015, fans are already beginning to wonder who will be the next great starter for Oregon. Jeff Lockie hopes his name will be called.
Feature photo by Craig Strobeck
- Managers are fascinating to me....these are people who like to organize others and get satisfaction from making things run smooth. They enjoy dealing with the mundane mistakes of associates and they find ways to communicate--and help them achieve their potential in that venture. I, Charles Fischer, of FishDuck.com do NOT have those skills and with 70 volunteers I need help from professional managers and those who wish to get experience in management. It is five hours a week to help with other volunteers. What is a curse to me, can be great fun for you! You could make a BIG impact upon the site and other Oregon fans; contact me at email@example.com
- ARE YOU A COACH who would like to share some of your knowledge with the fans and other coaches that come to FishDuck.com? Make an impact upon others as we all learn together this sport we all love. Consider being an advisor or guest writer on the site! Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Do you like to write? Want some experience sportswriting or wish to build your own article portfolio? Our articles are searched and found every day--even old ones! We have a few openings for writers who like to do the longer Featured Articles, and some slots for the Sports News Team that does shorter articles for our Oregon fan readership. Contact me at email@example.com
- Editors like to edit; they don't like to fuss around with the other stuff in running a site....they enjoy working with words and making articles better while mentoring young writers to improve their craft. Join us! A Duck who likes to edit is a Rare Bird that we value at FishDuck.com...contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org