History Says Vernon Adams Will Be the 2015 Starting QB

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At this point, it is no secret that the biggest question mark for the Ducks as they head toward the 2015-16 season is who will be under center come September 5th. But when considering recent history, we already have the answer: the starting quarterback for the Oregon Ducks this season is Vernon Adams, Jr.

Quarterback Jeff Lockie getting loose during pregame warm-ups

Kevin Cline

Quarterback Jeff Lockie getting loose during pregame warm-ups.

In some ways this is unfortunate, because you want to root for a guy such as Jeff Lockie, a guy who has done everything right. A guy who has patiently waited for the last three years behind the best quarterback in college football, instead of taking the easy way out and transferring. A guy who has worked his tail off for this University without a lot of credit, and has handled this whole starting quarterback situation with class and respect.

But football games and position battles cannot be won with class and respect alone. It requires talent, and Adams is a more talented quarterback than Lockie. Not to mention this would not be the first time that the “heir apparent” quarterback gets beaten out by a dark horse competitor on the Duck depth chart.

You can go all the way back to the 2007 season when Dennis Dixon was wrapping up his Heisman-worthy senior campaign for the Ducks. Upon his departure to the NFL, two quarterbacks were left to battle it out for his starting spot, Justin Roper and Brady Leaf.

But who won the starting job come 2008? Roper? Leaf? Both quarterbacks, among others, were beaten out by JUCO transfer Jeremiah Masoli, who started out fall camp as the 5th-string quarterback before battling his way to the top.

Two years later when the Masoli era came to an end after the 2009 season, all signs pointed to the experienced veteran, senior Nate Costa, to take over the staring spot come 2010. But who wound up starting for the Ducks that year? The more explosive redshirt sophomore Darron Thomas.

Bryan Bennett running in the open field during his first career start

Kevin Cline

Bryan Bennett running in the open field during his first career start.

And again in 2012, after Thomas (somewhat surprisingly) left for the NFL Draft, 2nd-string quarterback Bryan Bennett was the favorite for the starting job. Bennett had even started a game for the Ducks in 2011, leading them to victory against the Colorado Buffalos in place of the injured Thomas. Even with this valuable in-game experience and a 1-0 record as a starter, he was beaten out by a redshirt freshman from Hawaii named Marcus Mariota, who had never attempted a collegiate pass.

Since recent history has shown us that the Ducks value explosiveness over familiarity with the offense – when it comes to the quarterback position – the only question that remains is: Will Adams be the most talented and explosive quarterback on the roster this fall? All signs point to — ‘yes.’

The spring game was able to shed some light on the Ducks current quarterback situation. We learned that Lockie can accurately hit wide-open receivers in space, but lacks elite arm strength and the dynamic play-making ability that Oregon fans and coaches alike have come to expect from the quarterback position.

Outside of Lockie, we learned that wide receiver Bralon Addison is probably the second- or third-best quarterback on the roster as the group of underclassmen QBs generally underperformed with a collective 40% completion percentage in the spring game.

What Adams brings to the table is something that no other quarterback on the current roster has: more than 10,000 passing yards, a 110-31  touchdown-interception ratio, more than 1,200 rushing yards and 11 rushing touchdowns. Not only are there no quarterbacks on the Ducks roster who have this kind of resume, there are few quarterbacks in the country that can match his illustrious resume.

Bralon Addison turning the edge against UCLA

Craig Strobeck

Bralon Addison turning the edge against UCLA.

You must also factor in his ability to throw an accurate deep ball, which is crucial for the Ducks in 2015 – considering this may be the most talented wide receiving corps the Ducks have ever had with the return of Addison and 2014 standouts Byron Marshall, Devon Allen, Dwayne Stanford and Darren Carrington III.

The last three times the Oregon Ducks had a change  at the starting quarterback positiion, the quarterback who was more “familiar with the offense” was beaten out by the more talented and explosive alternative.

And with Vernon Adams’ arrival after his graduation from Eastern Washington University in June, he is going to push that streak to four.

The 2015 Ducks  team  is loaded with top-end talent. They are a team that is ready to win — now. When it comes down to who should be the starting quarterback, there is only one thing that matters: which quarterback gives the Ducks the better chance to win the national title next year? It is, without doubt, Vernon Adams, Jr.

And if Adams’ stats alone don’t have you convinced, he is the more explosive quarterback. Take a look at what he did to opposing defenses the last few years:

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Steven Jackson

Steven Jackson

Steven was born in raised in Sacramento, California home to what he thinks is the greatest sports franchise in the world, the Sacramento Kings. He is a die-hard Kings fan and gets a little emotional if you bring up the 2002 Western Conference Finals, he still hasn’t gotten over it yet. Along with the Kings, Steven is a huge fan of the San Francisco 49ers and the World Champion San Francisco Giants. He went to his first Duck football game in 2008 and never looked back. Steven is now a Junior at the University of Oregon Majoring in Advertising and Minoring in Business Administration. In his free time you can find him hanging out and snowboarding with his friends or watching YouTube highlight reels of Marcus Mariota. You can reach Steven on Twitter @steven__jackson (two underscores).

  • disqus_JmcFDecx6w

    What a double good deal for Oregon. Not only do they add a hotshot QB into the competition, they take away the #1 threat Eastern Washington had against Oregon for the first game of 2015. No wonder EW’s head coach is so angry with the move.

    • Mike Green

      most coaches only care about Ws and Ls…

      especially the ones from the minor league programs

    • Anthony Joseph Gomes

      it will probably work out better this way in the long run because if adams wins some big games on the national stage it will call attention to EW more than anything adams ever did playing there ever could. at the risk of sounding smug the game was merely a filler anyway and i doubt EW had a chance…5% or less.


    I totally agree and cannot wait for the ESPN highlights every saturday.

  • Mike Green

    for what its worth, I thought Costa was better, but was bypassed due to his fragile body…

    DT never had that “touch”, but he sure could throw the long bombs…

    although, according to the tone of the article, yes I will admit that DT was more explosive

    and the choice was proven right — since Nate went down for good on a broken play

  • Grass Roots

    Ducks need to use the Platoon QB (PQB) system in order to keep morale up, so we need to see multiple QB’s playing… otherwise the benched QB’s may transfer thinking “Who is the next 5th Year QB to transfer to Oregon and take my job”. Put yourself in Lockie’s shoes.

    • Anthony Joseph Gomes

      did you see when the ducks used a 2 quarterback system after kellen clemens got hurt 6 or 7 years ago? dennis dixon and grady leaf(brother of former NFL bust ryan leaf who was drafted in the first round). a blind man could see dixon was far better but belloti stuck to the platoon system….2 series of downs and out for each. as for putting myself in lockies shoes …where did we hear that argument before? oh yes…i remember now…when the debate between whether mariota or bennett should start 3 years ago…many fans said…bryan has earned it..just give him the job…………..

  • TaitH

    Adams is the real deal. As a Griz fan I can say he’s maybe the best all around QB I’ve seen at the FCS level since Armanti Edwards (Appalachian state QB who beat Michigan + 2 national titles,) only more athletic. Everyone talks about his physical ability, but his intangibles are what make everything click. Dynamic player. He burned UW and OSU, but it will be interesting to see him against better FBS teams if he’s the starter.

  • Anthony Joseph Gomes

    history means nothing in this situation. one good spring practice from lockie is insufficient data. garbage time after mariota is also insufficient data. adams has proved he can do it on the field but he will have to prove he can fit in with bigger faster stronger players and learn the system fast enough. i dont think lockie has the talent to hold off adams if he can jump all the hurdles and i dont mean that as negative on lockie. the good news for lockie is even if he loses out this year and is beaten out by only adams he can come back and have one clean shot in his senior year…that might be enough to get him into the NFL even,.