It has been just about one year since the Rose Bowl win. Justin Herbert, Troy Dye and their compatriots capped off their program-building careers with a conference championship and a win in the most important game to the Pac-12. It was a high point for the back half of a decade that saw Oregon reach new heights and fall right back to all-too-familiar lows.
The 2020 season was primed to be a big one. Oregon was supposed to have a potentially better defense than the record setting Rose Bowl crew, despite losing the heart and soul of the team in Dye. The offense had bucked the perceived baggage of Marcus Arroyo and brought in Joe Moorhead to get the offense back to their former glory.
The Ducks failed at both of those tasks. While the offense felt good at times, they always struggled in the second half. The defense, after several starters (all of whom were NFL prospects) opted out of the season, looked lost consistently.
Now all eyes turn to 2021. An offseason of players actually being able to take part in the workout program should solve many of the issues that plagued Oregon over the last season, but there is one question that will stand above all others: what are the Ducks going to do at QB?
2020 was supposed to solidify the place of Tyler Shough or Anthony Brown as the starter for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, neither player looked like an elite performer as the season wore on. Shough, rattled by any pressure applied to him, was lost as soon as teams started to blitz. Brown only played in the last two games, and looked decent at times, but failed to muster a single point in the second half against Iowa State.
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Shough beat Brown in practice, the coaching staff was clear about that. But during games, Shough looked unable to sustain drives, and Brown was rendered null and void once Iowa State got used to his playing style. That means that the door is still open for a new starting QB in 2021.
The obvious candidates are Shough and Brown. Both have talent and starting experience to go along with major flaws. One of the other QB’s on the roster could certainly improve enough to steal the starting spot, but none of the three made enough of an impression on the coaches in 2020 to warrant playing time in a struggling offense. That leaves Ty Thompson.
Thompson is an incoming freshman who might be just what the Ducks ordered. He has good size, exceptional accuracy and a strong arm. The young pass thrower is also capable of placing touch on the ball rarely seen in Autzen Stadium. He effortlessly throws deep balls on the run, something neither of the QB’s who played for Oregon this year can do.
Thompson is a five star player. He may not be ranked as a five star recruit by every recruiting service, but he dominated the Elite 11 camp, and his tape speaks for itself.
Oregon needs a QB. Herbert had us spoiled, throwing for 3000 yards and 20-30 touchdowns every year. The decline in talent from him to Shough and Brown was noticeable. Thompson may surpass Herbert in talent. Unfortunately, Oregon needs him to do that and more in the future.
Top Photo By Eugene Johnson
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