Heresy! That should be the word going through your mind and escaping your lips when you read the title of this article. To think anyone could be a better Oregon QB than Marcus Mariota is simply ridiculous.
But, in my research of Vernon Adams Jr., Oregon’s latest QB, I think there is the possibility that he could be better than Mariota. Part of this might be overreaction on my part, but when you look at how well Adams played against both FCS and a few FBS opponents, with a much lower level of talent around him than what he will have at Oregon, it makes you step back and think.
The one thing that Adams does just as well as, if not better, than Mariota is throw the ball. Now, let me stop and say this isn’t to speak of ill of Mariota, he is a great passer, but Adams is comfortable throwing the ball 40 or 50 times per game if needed. This could give Helfrich an opportunity to throw in some more complex passing plays and route combinations that would give opponents one more thing to scheme for. The biggest thing Adams is going to have to get down in the passing game is just timing with his new receivers in a relatively short period of time. If he can get that timing down then he could end up being Mariota’s equal or superior in passing at Oregon.
Adams is neither as polished a runner nor as dynamic an athlete as Mariota, and on top of this doesn’t have the experience running Oregon’s various option looks. This means that it could take a few games for Adams to get up to speed running the offense properly. This could be particularly interesting to watch since he can’t even show up to spring training because he’s a transfer student.
Despite these disadvantages, Adams is still the favorite to win the job, and with a few early games against teams that include Adams’ former team, Eastern Washington, he should be up to speed by the time Oregon faces its first real opponent.
Adams will also benefit from the wealth of talent around him at Oregon, with a ridiculous number of quality RBs as well as some great weapons in the passing game. With all of this talent around him, along with his own ability, I see no reason why Adams can’t be a Heisman canidate, and maybe even a winner. I can see Adams even making the jump to the NFL after this season, and being a high draft pick.
All that being said, I doubt he will ever be considered a better Oregon QB than Mariota, even if he wins a Heisman and leads Oregon to a national championship.
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