Oregon’s Future QB Situation — How Much Does Experience Matter?

Jeff Lockie 15, WSU,14,GB

And just like that … Marcus Mariota is out the door and ready to start what promises to be a brilliant career in the NFL. After such a historic season, it is natural to see him take the leap to the next level. Even though many Duck fans would love to see him return, he made an understandable decision after having given more than enough to the Ducks throughout his three-year starting dynasty.

But as Mariota opens the doors to greet the NFL, another door bursts wide open in Eugene. Who will take his place and sit at the helm of a program that just had the best football season in the school’s history?

Lockie against Wyoming

Kevin Cline

Lockie against Wyoming.

For most, the logical answer might be Jeff Lockie. He is the only QB on the roster who has game experience at the collegiate level, and he has proven that he can run the offense efficiently (at least in garbage time). As a six-foot-three red shirt sophomore, Lockie threw for 207 yards on 21-28 passing and one TD over his three appearances this season.

Lockie also had the most time under Mariota and Scott Frost to develop. Learning from Mariota and one of the best assistant coaches in the country cannot go overlooked, especially in a sport where experience is so valuable.

However, in recent years experience hasn’t proven as valuable as advertised. In fact, when he was a red shirt freshman Mariota actually took the quarterback job from highly touted Bryan Bennett in 2012. Bennett had been backup to Darron Thomas and proved himself in practice. But a young, athletic and humble Hawaiian QB had something to say about that …

Even before that, Darron Thomas stole the job from Nate Costa in 2010. Costa was ready to become the starter in his senior year after Jeremiah Masoli’s departure, but was beaten out by Thomas, who ended up leading Oregon to a national championship game and a Rose Bowl victory.

So while the current consensus is that Lockie is the guy for the job, let’s not jump to any conclusions.

Mahalak walks off the field

Kevin Cline

Mahalak walks off the field.

Morgan Mahalak could be what the Ducks need to fill the gaping hole that Mariota’s leaving will create. The current freshman, hailing from Marin Catholic High School, had a monster senior season, racking up 2795 yards and 38 TDs on only four interceptions.

Mahalak has a fast throwing motion and quick feet to escape pressure. His playing style and 6’3, 190 lb frame has drawn many comparisons to Mariota. While he may not be quite as fast, he has the potential to be a great pocket passer with enough speed to keep a defense guessing. For more on Mahalak, check out the FishDuck.com video analysis from Will Hewlet, JC Boice and Charles Fisher.

From video

Waller in an interview about Oregon.

Another potential starter could be recent Duck commit Travis Waller. The will-be freshman from Anaheim has a decent arm, but is even more dangerous as a runner. Although he too is fairly slight at 6’3, 194 lbs, a little time in the weight room could quickly help him overcome what he lacks in size. Waller has an accurate arm, and his athletic ability is off the charts. If the position was based on potential alone, he could very well be the Oregon starter.

Waller received offers from Alabama, Notre Dame, Tennessee and Arizona, just to name a few. The only question that remains is if he has what it takes to compete for a starting job right out of high school. For more on Travis Waller, check out this article.

But wait … there’s MORE!

From video

Griffin in an interview about the FSU game.

Another guy with an outside shot at starting next year is Georgia native Ty Griffin, brother of five-star running back recruit Taj Griffin. The 6′, 191 lb freshman possesses a lot of the same athletic ability as his younger brother, but he can throw the ball as well.

Ty recently transferred from Georgia Tech to reunite with his brother at U of O. While only a two-star recruit, Griffin’s athleticism and speed could be beneficial to any team. Griffin helped the Ducks prepare for Jameis Winston in the Rose Bowl by emulating the former Heisman winner in practice.

With so many different options at QB next year, the Ducks needn’t worry about who gets the starting job. Seeing Mariota leave is almost like watching a beloved child leave the nest for the first time. Like saying goodbye to your best friend, who you talked to in an elevator one time and ogled over for the entire four-flight descent.

Mariota’s departure strikes a chord with Duck fans everywhere, but if the next starter to take his place can become anything like him, then I will for one be happy. Oregon has the talent; now all that’s left is to harness it and let the games begin to see who will take over.

 Top photo by Kevin Cline

Print Friendly

 Volunteer Position Openings:

--Media Management/Supervisor:  We are looking for someone beyond college age who can help manage students and mentor in a number of different departments. Expertise is not required as organizational skills and interest in guiding others.   --Assistant Football Analyst: Love college football and enjoy watching it for hours? We need associates to view games and find the techniques/teaching points we identify for them in advance.  You will be recognized in publications, and could have the opportunity to move to full Analyst.   --College Football Analyst: We are looking for Coaches, or retired coaches to help create analysis videos (we do the video part) that will be viewed by thousands, and will help young football players as well as fans understand the game much better. The national recognition will help your resume' as well as make an impact upon the game we all dearly love.   --Video Specialist: We are looking for help in the Eugene/Springfield area to assist with the shooting and editing of analysis videos.   All Positions: Send a resume' with full contact information and any writing samples you have to charles@fishduck.com  Again, these are volunteer positions donating five hours a week each.

Alex Towne

Alex Towne

Alex is a junior at the University of Oregon currently pursuing a double major in Spanish and Advertising at the school of journalism. Alex has been a lifetime duck fan, despite growing up in California, and attends every football and basketball game showing his support. In his free time he enjoys watching sports, listening to music, and playing golf.

  • Tom_PDX

    First off, if Lockie is 6’3″ then Marcus is 6’6″ (not a chance). Not much for Duck fans to go on as far as the backup situation this past season. All we have is Lockie’s garbage time snaps and Moseley’s practice reports. Count me as a Lockie skeptic. Good guy but I think of him in the same league as Cody Kempt. Will Hewitt’s observations of Mahalak are interesting though I would disagree, watching the film, that his throws are ‘fast and quick’. I’m a big ‘quick release’ fan as microseconds can make all the difference between completions and throws batted down by DB’s or onrushing linemen. Mahalak has a bit of a looping action when cocking his arm. Waller’s (long) release issues are well-known and unfortunately still exist as seen on his TD pass in the recent all-star game. Marcus has the quick release, same for multi-talented Tua Tagovailoa (sophomore prospect out of St Louis HS, Honolulu…fingers crossed he’ll be a Duck). Ty Griffin is the mystery man whom few (outside of practice) have seen. Per Moseley, the arm strength is there as well as the ability to run. For all of the above what can’t be measured is what’s inside the head. Composure, recognition, progressions, decision making, leadership, etc. Will we emerge from spring with a no. 1? Doubtful. But it will be interesting nevertheless.

  • hokieduck

    I don’t get the feeling that many folks think the logical answer is Jeff Lockie. And because we get no real insight onto the practice field, we have little to go on when evaluating Mahalak and Griffin.

    What is pretty clear is that the Ducks have several talented QBs in the wings. No, they are not Marcus. Who is? His tenure in Eugene will always be a special time. But it was not the QB position which lost the national championship. And it was not the QB position that pulled it out. The Ducks are entering a new era and hopefully the recruiting classes beginning in 2016 will show the impact of this past season. The quality of the defense must begin to catch up with the offense if the Ducks are going to continue to improve.

    Unlike the Beaver fans who populate the Oregonian threads, I do not see the Ducks substantially declining next year. We will see Helfrich’s talent as a Head Coach without Marcus. I think he will be fine. The key will be how much the defense improves in Pellum’s next few seasons.

    Go Ducks! WTD!