On Saturday, Oregon fans got their first glimpse of the two men vying for Oregon’s backup quarterback spot in Jeff Lockie and Jake Rodrigues. While both men impressed statistically, one thing became even clearer during the game:
The incumbent, Marcus Mariota, is getting even better than last season.
Despite playing against the second-unit defense, it’s hard not to salivate at what the sophomore could do this coming season with a year of experience under his belt.
Showing improved touch, more zip on the ball, and plenty of patience in the pocket, Mariota completed 13-15 passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns, seemingly driving his squad wherever he wanted.
Playing into just part of the second quarter, Mariota found a groove with Josh Huff and Bralon Addison – two guys who could become top targets in the fall – and seemed to flow nicely with Byron Marshall, the expected starter at running back.
“I was a lot more relaxed,” said Mariota, “Going into last year’s spring game the nerves were getting to me, and I just wanted to do well. Today we were able to go out there as an offense, we’ve been with each other now for a year, and let’s kind of go out there and show what we’ve been doing, how we’ve progressed.”
Marshall also shined, despite rushing the ball just six times, accumulating 60 yards and a touchdown.
One of the big questions heading into the season will be who backs up Mariota, the list narrowed down to the two redshirt freshmen in Lockie and Rodrigues.
Both quarterbacks came in last season highly touted, with Rodrigues recovering from a devastating leg injury in high school,
which limited his production last year. Those two men entered Saturday’s scrimmage hoping to prove something to the nearly 40,000 Oregon faithful who showed up.
They did just that.
Lockie won the stats battle, completing 22 passes for 217 yards, while Rodrigues completed 13 for 165 yards. Rodrigues appears to be faster with a bigger arm, although the coaching staff says both players are even coming out of spring ball.
“Today was just a culmination of the 14 practices we’ve seen before this,” Frost said, “So you got to see some of what we’ve seen. Both those kids have a really good grasp of the offense. I think they’ve both improved, and I think both could win games for us.”
It appears that Oregon will be in good hands with either of the three beg=hind center, with a plethora of weapons at their disposal.
One of the biggest stories coming out of spring was the emergence of Addison, the true sophomore who is a part De’Anthony Thomas-part Huff hybrid player, and who coaches say simply needs the ball in his hands.
Addison caught eight balls for 136 yards and a touchdown, while cementing his role for the upcoming season. He could be a terror in Oregon’s offense, once he settles down and lets his talents take over.
With spring ball in the books, the long summer months await the Ducks and their fans. After what we witnessed Saturday, perhaps it’s time to breath a little easier from any doubts that existed at the beginning of the month.
Joel Gunderson grew up in a small town, where the only thing he did for fun was worship the Oregon Ducks. He later moved to Eugene, where he studied journalism at the U of O. After working in radio, he married the woman of his dreams and settled down. Joel now spends his days studying Journalism and the fine world of grammar, all the while worshiping the ground that Charles “Chip” Kelly walks on! Follow him on twitter @gundy85
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