Most of the Oregon fan base believes the spring game can say a lot about the state of Our Beloved Ducks program. Generally, with a returning coaching staff and most of the same pieces, that’s usually the case. However this season, I can’t say I agree. We’re in the earliest stages of our new head coach Dan Lanning’s command. But still, to say the least, the spring game had its fair share of up and downs.
Particularly, if you just look at the box score, the quarterbacks could have played a whole lot better.
This lack of clear-cut-and-dry superior play from any of the quarterbacks who played this spring has inspired a ton of conversation in the community over who will start opening day. Since I could realistically see three different players starting at the position, this has gotta be one of the most competitive quarterback rooms Oregon has had in years. I’m truly excited to see how the next few months go leading up to the season, and I think there will be major surprises at the position in terms of production.
However, I think it’s all but set in stone that Bo Nix ends up starting. He has too much experience and is inheriting a highly-talented group surrounding him. We won’t get into what this says about the program’s quarterback recruiting and the future of our “transfer-nation“ college football scene (trademark pending), but it does again push back some of the supreme talent Oregon has been able to recruit in the past two seasons. If you told me even just two years ago that we’d have a five-star quarterback riding the bench, I would laugh you out of Autzen.
The real kicker though? Jay Butterfield is who I bet is nipping at Nix’s heels throughout the season, not Ty Thompson. There’s been a bit of buzz about Butterfield’s No.2 QB reps following the spring game, and some of the great throws he had validate it. Again, we shouldn’t weigh the spring game too heavily, but Butterfield had some great moments. I also felt he was more consistently impressing me with his decision-making skills, finding those tighter windows, and giving Our Beloved Ducks’ receivers the best chance to win.
Now granted, it is early. There’s plenty of time for the tides to change. Personally, I was riding high on Thompson towards the end of last season when Anthony Brown was struggling to create real passing production in the Ducks’ system. Though it was just a spring game, Thompson didn’t show me what I thought we’d be seeing on a casually-competitive afternoon in Autzen.
Today, I just want what’s best for the team this season under Lanning, and I believe Butterfield could at least contribute a bit to that. Thompson had a lackluster showing and didn’t look ready. The same could be said for Nix in some cases, Nix just has the approval of multiple starting seasons under his belt at another elite program.
The unfortunate truth is this Oregon team has to have great quarterback play right of the bat to compete with Georgia. I know, I wish we could run the offense through Seven McGee (who had an absolutely stellar spring game, by the way) like days of old, but those days are long gone. If Lanning can’t get the quarterback right by the end of the season, it’ll destroy Oregon’s chances at winning the PAC-12 and having any chance at advancing.
Do you think there’s a longshot chance the starting job is won out by Butterfield or Thompson this offseason? What kind of leash do you expect Lanning to have Nix on with the talent in the quarterback room for 2022? How realistic is it that McGee is able to have a legitimate shot at being the playmaker of this offense?
Los Angeles, California
Top Photo By: Gary Breedlove
Alex Heining is a third-year student at the University of Oregon. He’s working towards a bachelor of arts degree as an English major and media studies minor in journalism. Growing up in the Los Angeles area of southern California, Alex ended up a Duck through family ties, a quality football program, and the beautiful green of Lane County. Currently finishing his first science fiction novel, he wants to end up in the sports world of journalism on the west coast. Particularly, covering high school football, recruiting commits, and all things Ducks.
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