Time For Hope: Let The Freshman Play

David Marsh Editorials

We have already seen some crazy ups and downs this season, and the injury bug has not been remotely kind to this year’s Oregon team. It has taken star players out of multiples games, such as Kayvon Thibodeaux, or ended seasons (Justin Flowe and CJ Verdell), and it has even taken coaches off the sideline with Joe Moorhead missing the Stanford game.

This is only part of the frustration with this Oregon team, and after looking at the injury list, the Ducks’ record is incredible.

Injuries are, for the most part, uncontrollable — but there is one thing the coaches can control: who starts at quarterback. Anthony Brown was only ever going to be a temporary solution, even if he was producing numbers close to Marcus Mariota or Justin Herbert (which he isn’t). Brown will only be eligible to play this year.

At this time, Oregon cannot realistically make the playoff; the Pac-12 is simply too weak, but the season is not lost. Oregon does not control their post-season destiny at this time, though — which means it is time for the coaching staff to show what the future can hold while giving the fans what they want. Ty Thompson. And if it isn’t Thompson, fans would just be happy to see any of the freshman quarterbacks take over.

Thompson is the future of Oregon football. Let him play now to give fans hope.

Brown Isn’t Getting It Done

Brown has shown his ceiling. He has really only thrown one successful deep ball all season, in the opening game against Fresno State where he had a nice pass to Johnny Johnson III. Since then, there have been many missed opportunities where receivers had their man beat but the pass was too far in front of them to make a play. Maybe Brown is making these passes in practice, but he isn’t making them when they count in games.

The longest passes Brown has been credited for throwing have been short-to-mid-range passes that the receiver has then taken for big yards after the catch, as we saw with Jaylon Redd’s touchdown against Arizona where he caught the 20-yard pass and then took it 40 more yards for a touchdown. We also saw a nice short pass reach Mycah Pittman against Stanford, which went for huge yardage as well.

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Brown has been most deadly with his legs. He has made some nice runs — even some critical runs for first downs and touchdowns. However, he has also made some very poor reads and opted to keep the ball rather than hand it off or even look to pass. The prime example of this came at the end of the second quarter on fourth-and-goal, and instead of handing the ball off to the running back or keeping it to extend the play with his legs while attacking the edges of the defense, he just ran straight into a pile of defenders.

Brown has been good with his legs but is often making the wrong reads in the RPO.

Brown is a sixth-year senior and there isn’t any more he can give. He has been the right choice at quarterback for the first several games this year because he has the most experience, and it is hard to ignore the impact of Brown’s calm and collected presence during Oregon’s win at Ohio State. However, this Oregon offense is currently limited because of its quarterback. Oregon has the receivers to make huge plays but it doesn’t have a quarterback who can deliver the ball.

This offense is simply limited by Brown’s capabilities.

Time to Take a Risk on a Freshman

While a playoff berth was at stake, playing Brown made sense. That run is gone for the time being, and there is an opportunity for Mario Cristobal to instill some faith and hope into the program and the fan base. Thompson, or Jay Butterfield, or Robby Ashford are the future. Fans want to see any of them on the field, especially Thompson, and though coaches shouldn’t make decisions based on what fans want, this is an occasion that would be good for the program while appeasing the fan base.

As fans, we are frustrated watching Brown run around and be incapable of making next-level plays. This offense is unimpressive and right now that is largely due to a lack of a competent vertical passing attack. It is only going to get worse as more teams are going to look at his inability to attack down field. They are simply going to dare him to make those throws as they focus on containing the run and short passing game.

If not Thompson why not Butterfield who also throws a better ball than Brown?

It would be better to put Thompson in, who is just more natural in the passing game and throws a much nicer ball. Yes, he is young and he is going to make some freshman mistakes. Thompson is going to have to learn at some point, though, and getting him experience this year will pay massive dividends next year when the rest of the team should be healthier and everyone will have another year of experience under their belts.

For fans, we can be patient watching a young freshman quarterback have some struggles; that is part of learning the college game. But there will be some flashes of absolute brilliance that will show off his potential. As fans, we don’t have the patience for Brown. He won’t grow into a better passer, and he isn’t the future. The future at QB is one of the three freshmen. Isn’t it time we see what the future for Oregon football could be?

David Marsh
Portland, Oregon
Top Photo By Craig Strobeck

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