Will The Oregon Offense Change Without Mariota?

Marcus Mariota 15, Michigan State,14,KC

The greatest Oregon Duck to ever wear the green and yellow is now preparing for life in the NFL That’s old news. So what does the future hold? Could a new quarterback bring changes to the Oregon offense we have become so familiar with?

Offensive Coordinator Scott Frost will have to adjust to life without Mariota

Kevin Cline

Offensive Coordinator Scott Frost will have to adjust to life without Mariota

To begin, I don’t think we will be a bad football team without Marcus Mariota. There is far too much talent on this roster to be anything less than a 10 win team even without our Heisman Trophy winner. However, when you lose the leader of the offense your team can be left in uncharted waters.

When you have a three-year starter who controls the offense, the coaches know they can rely on him to make the right decisions before the snap and during the play. That’s what Mariota excelled at – he didn’t make mistakes. There is a legitimate chance that former Eastern Washington quarterback, Vernon Adams, will be the starter next season. Adams has a different skillset, different experience, and a different build than Mariota; so will our offense change to suit him more? I’m thinking yes.

Take a moment to remember back to the Jeremiah Masoli days. All laptop theft jokes aside, Masoli was a great fit for the Oregon offense. He was an incredible improviser, capable of assessing a play and quickly making a decision to pass or take off and run. At a generous 5-foot-11, he was able to take the Oregon program to new heights because of his play making ability. And watching him run over the Oregon State defender on fourth down to seal the Rose Bowl berth is still one of my favorite plays in Oregon history.

The Duck offense is usually a run-first scheme, but even more so back when Masoli was under center; because when you have an NFL caliber quarterback like Mariota, you tend to throw a little more. Mariota threw the ball 304 times last season, and I personally don’t believe that Adams (or someone else) will be asked to throw that many times in 2015. I see our offense leaning more on the run this upcoming season because we have some studs in the backfield to rely on and a new quarterback calling the shots. Adams, who is comparable to Masoli in size, could be a dangerous runner in a read option game. Masoli ran for 718 yards and 10 scores in 2008, then ran for 668 yards and 13 scores in 2009; and I could see Adams putting up similar, if not better, numbers if he is the starter. He will have the benefit of handing off to Thomas Tyner and Royce Freeman, who both could rush for 1,000 yards next season.

Overall, I think our offense will be just as explosive as it has been, just maybe in a different way. This team is stacked with talent on the offensive side of the ball, so whoever the quarterback is, they will have plenty of weapons to work with. A change in scheme might be a good thing for us, because like the wall in the Moshofsky center says: “Tradition Never Changes. Champions Do.”

Top Photo by Kevin Cline

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Nik Brownlee

Nik Brownlee

University of Oregon alumnus and Duck football fanatic. Born in Eugene and raised in Autzen Stadium, sports are the foundation for who I am. Passionate about fitness, the outdoors and making people laugh. If I'm not talking about sports, chances are I'm listening to my music too loud.

  • Dan

    Good article. Oregon’s offense should change every year a little to match the strengths of our personnel and throw in new wrinkles for opposing teams.

    Vernon Adams (VA) is nothing like Masoli. From what I’ve seen, he is shifty and quick but smaller in build. He throws an excellent deep ball. Masoli was more of a running back playing QB, who was very inaccurate at times (e.g., Stanford, Ohio State).

    I think that we’ll rely on Tyner, Freeman, Marshall, et al to run the ball and Adams is capable of getting the ball down the field to our experience wide receivers to keep defenses honest. Eastern Washington ran a different version of the spread (more like WSU’s) and I wonder if our coaches would try to incorporate some of their passing routes into our offense since VA is familiar with it and can obviously execute it. This would also help the learning curve.