The next time Justin Herbert takes a snap in live-action will be in the National Football League. There has been much speculation on where Herbert will land in the draft, with some mock drafts having him in the top ten, while others have him as the successor to Tom Brady. Regardless of where he ends up, he possesses the pocket passer skill set which seems to have the most longevity in the NFL.
Herbert’s accomplishments in high school and college have been noted, discussed and praised. Oregon fans were privileged to have the senior return for one more year, guiding the Ducks to the Rose Bowl and back to national relevancy. The new discussion has quickly turned to who will be taking the snaps in September to open the year against North Dakota State.
Without Herbert, the Ducks roster currently has three quarterbacks, with more on their way to Eugene. Although they all technically have a chance at the starting position, here are the three candidates we could see under center in September.
Probably the most obvious choice to start at quarterback, Tyler Shough looks poised to take over the Oregon program. The redshirt sophomore has been in this system for three years and has shown improvement over his first two seasons. Ducks fans have only seen him play an extended period of time on a few occasions. Mostly in a couple of Spring games he has participated in, but also against USC this past season.
The small sample size we have of Shough looks to be promising. He knows the system, has chemistry with some of the younger receivers and can be considered a veteran on this Oregon team. In his appearance against USC, he threw a great touchdown pass to freshman Mycah Pittman and threw a fullback type block at the end of the game. It’s never a bad situation to have a quarterback who isn’t afraid to get their hands dirty.
Other than quarterback competition from returners and newcomers, which could actually be a good thing, there will be a new offensive coordinator making his way to Eugene. The rapport Shough has with Marcus Arroyo has departed and made its way to UNLV. A new offensive coordinator can bring new ideology and new systems which could be a difficult adjustment for Shough.
The Ducks scored big with four-star, dual-threat quarterback Robby Ashford during the early signing period. Ashford originally announced on Twitter that he would be signing with the Ducks in February, but soon after five-star recruit Justin Flowe signed his letter of intent, Ashford decided it wasn’t worth waiting until February and signed his letter of intent.
Being a dual-threat, Ashford has the ability to throw and use his legs. If Ducks fans are looking something different and more of an option type of offense, Ashford could be the guy to run that efficiently. He doesn’t go down easy either, standing at 6 feet 2 inches and 204 pounds, running a 4.6 forty-yard dash.
As mentioned earlier, the new offensive coordinator could bring a new scheme and Ashford could be the guy to run it. The issue with this is that spurring Shough to go with Ashford, who has no college experience, could be risky for the Ducks and a new offensive coordinator might not want to make that his first impression with the Autzen faithful.
Only days ago, Wake Forest‘s senior quarterback Jamie Newman entered the transfer portal as a graduate transfer and will be granted immediate eligibility. Why is this important? Because John Taylor of NBC Sports College Football Talk reports the Oregon Ducks are the favorites to land Newman. College Football analyst Pete Thamel confirmed the reports as well.
Newman had a pretty good tenure at Wake Forest after not getting starting reps until his junior year. He ended up going 10-6 in his time starting at Wake Forest with 26 touchdowns and 11 interceptions last season. Newman does pose a threat to run as well with 574 yards on the ground and six touchdowns last season.
Oregon going after a transfer quarterback says two things: they are looking for an experienced veteran presence, and they do not have total confidence in their current quarterback situation.
This doesn’t take away from Newman being a solid option. He brought Wake Forest to some relevancy with a top 25 ranking and a Pinstripe Bowl bid. Newman is a solid talent from an underwhelming program, and with Oregon’s recruiting record over the past couple of seasons, they must see the potential.
Oregon fans may be a bit wary of going after a graduate transfer at quarterback because in recent history, it hasn’t gone as planned. Vernon Adams Jr. was a good quarterback when he was healthy, but the Dakota Prukop situation that thrust Herbert into the starting role was a complete disaster.
At any level of football, quarterback changes are hard to deal with and the next man up always has big shoes to fill in both on-field success and winning over the hearts of fans. Replacing the hometown kid also makes this position that much harder. Redshirt freshman Cade Millen and four-star recruit Jay Butterfield are also options to be under center, but time to learn and develop for the next year or two will bode well for them in the future.
Regardless of who the new quarterback may be, they will have some solid offensive weapons around them who have been at Oregon for a while and can help catch them up to speed in the starting gig.
Portland, OregonTop Photo by Kevin Cline
Chris Brouilette, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is a current student at the University of Oregon from Sterling, Illinois.
My name is Cameron Johansson and I am a senior at the University of Oregon, majoring in journalism and minoring in business administration. I am originally from the East Coast, just north of Boston, but I have been an avid Ducks fan as long as I can remember. I was constantly seen with my vibrant yellow Ducks hat on at all times. My friends would often give me flack for that, but I didn’t care. Other than the Ducks, I am also a big fan of the Boston Red Sox, Celtics, New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Penguins. I grew up playing predominantly hockey and golf, but always found time to catch the Ducks every Saturday. Feel free to follow me on twitter for some more hot takes on the Ducks and sports in general! My twitter handle is @CamJohansson
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