Oregon Ducks: Jeff Lockie

Over the past few weeks we examined the Ducks, position-by-position, evaluating the talent. But since I was in Eugene last week for the NCAA Track & Field Championships, I figured I'd stop by the football offices to check in with one of the guys who knows that information best, offensive coordinator Scott Frost. Today, we'll go through quarterback and running back highlights. Tomorrow, we'll get to wide receiver, tight end and the offensive line.

QUARTERBACK

  • They're certainly not shying away from any Heisman hype at this point in the year. On quarterback Marcus Mariota, Frost said, "We certainly think we have the best one in the country" and that "he throws better than anyone in the country." Well Jameis Winston, there you have it.
  • I was curious about Mariota's injury situation -- a lot of times when guys come back there might be some hesitation or some ounce of doubt still in their minds about their knee, or ankle or whatever. Frost isn't worried about it. He said that even a few weeks after the injury Mariota wanted to get the knee brace off. Frost also said that Mariota would've run for 200 yards in the bowl game (he rushed for 133 yards) but he was out of shape from the injury.
  • As far as the quarterback-not-named-Mariota situation, redshirt sophomore Jeff Lockie is the No. 2 guy this season ("without question," Frost said.). Frost doesn't seem concerned that the only backups on the roster at this point are Lockie and redshirt freshman Taylor Alie. Lockie was 8-of-13 last season for 57 yards and one interception. Alie is a local walk-on, but Frost did note how impressed he was with Alie's spring.
  • Alie will likely be the holder for field goals this season.
  • Regarding last season's backup, Frost said that they felt comfortable with both Lockie and Jake Rodrigues, who has transferred to San Diego State, but if they would've had to name a backup, it would've been Lockie. But that the coaching really didn't want to "finalize the outcome of that competition until a point in time when we [needed] to."
  • On whether the flip side of having such a great QB like Mariota is the fact that you do get attrition with other guys: "Quarterbacks are a unique breed. … They're the leaders. They're used to being the guy. It's tough for guys to come in and not play. We've had a great one, which is a good problem to have. But a lot of the guys behind him hadn't had the chance to play as much as they'd like."
  • Fun note: Frost lauded Mariota for being good at many different things, but apparently golf is not one of those things.
RUNNING BACK

  • On the Thomas Tyner vs. Byron Marshall debate -- Frost said there's a lot of confidence in both players. He said that it took Tyner a while to really get up to speed, but that he's there now and that Frost likes the competition between these two. Seems like even if there is a lead back and a No. 2 back, there really might not be a ton of separation in reps or carries.
  • Both have really good hands, but Frost said both "need to work on running routes a little bit and making sure they know more than one spot."
  • The first non-Tyner-Marshall player that Frost brought up was incoming freshman Tony James. James is the No. 14 RB in the 2014 class and chose the Ducks over offers from Auburn, Florida State and Ohio State.
  • On how the Bralon Addison injury affects the running backs: "We'd be silly if we just leave one running back on the field and most of these guys off the field. I can see us playing with more than one, using them in some other roles.
  • Frost cited the 2011 season when the Ducks used LaMichael James, De'Anthony Thomas and Kenjon Barner together a lot, saying that might be something we see this season. That season James rushed for 1,805 yards, Thomas rushed for 595 and Barner rushed for 939. I don't think Frost is saying that 2014 will necessarily be another 4,000-rushing yard season, but, this idea of multiple-back situations keeps coming up a lot.
  • Apparently, Chip Kelly used to use, what he called, the "taser" position -- a guy that can play tailback, flanker and slot. This is something they're looking at using more of next season with Tyner or Marshall, it sounds like. Even if Addison weren't injured, this would've been something they would've considered doing more of this year.
  • In closing, Frost put it best: "We want our best five on the field for the situation all times. There have been times that's four running backs. There have been times that's two tight ends. And there's times that's four receivers. So, we'll just have to get through camp, figure out who our best guys are and go from there."
When the Class of 2012 was finalized, it appeared the Pac-12 had secured a solid crop of quarterbacks.

Four of the nation's top 12 and six of the top 26 were headed to -- or staying on -- the West Coast. There was a good mix of dual-threat guys and pocket passers -- enough to instill high expectations moving forward. For comparison, the SEC and Big 12 both signed one player from the top 15.

Just over two years later, it's clear the class will never live up to those expectations.

Of the 14 players listed as quarterbacks by ESPN that signed with Pac-12 schools that year, only four are currently on the roster at the school they signed with, listed at quarterback and in good standing with the program. With Monday's news that Oregon's Jake Rodrigues would transfer, the transfer count is up to six. The other four situations are composed of a suspension, a position change, a dismissal and an LDS Church mission.

Here is a look at the Pac-12's quarterbacks from the Class of 2012 and an update on how their careers have progressed:

[+] EnlargeZach Kline
Joshua Weisberg/Icon SMIZach Kline lost out on the starting job at Cal in 2013 to a true freshman and transferred at season's end.
Zach Kline
Ranking: No. 2
School: Cal
Status: Transferred (Butte College)
Comment: Kline redshirted in coach Jeff Tedford's final season behind starter Zach Maynard then lost the competition to replace him to true freshman Jared Goff last year. He appeared in seven of 12 games but made the decision to transfer following the season. Originally it was reported that Kline would attend Oregon State, but instead he announced last month he would attend Butte College -- the same school Aaron Rodgers attended before he went to Cal.

T.J. Millweard
Ranking: No. 5
School: UCLA
Status: Transferred (Kansas)
Comment: After landing at UCLA the year after Brett Hundley, Millweard left Westwood after one redshirt season to head to Kansas. He sat out last season due to NCAA transfer rules but does not appear to be in line for playing time with the Jayhawks. Sophomore Montell Cozart was named the starter following spring practice.

Cyler Miles
Ranking: No. 10
School: Washington
Status: Suspended
Comment: The heir apparent to Keith Price during the 2013 season, it appeared Miles had the potential to become the prize of this class. That still might be the case, but his career remains in a state of flux due to an indefinite suspension following his connection to a post-Super Bowl assault. Coach Chris Petersen told 710 ESPN Seattle a decision won't be made public on Miles' future until August.

Jake Rodrigues
Ranking: No. 12
School: Oregon
Status: Transferring
Comment: Rodrigues' decision on Monday seemingly came out of nowhere after a spring in which multiple reports cast him as a strong candidate to replace Marcus Mariota following next year. But after meeting with coach Mark Helfrich on Monday, as reported by Comcast SportsNet Northwest, he made the decision to move on. It's a safe bet Helfrich didn't say, "Jake, we see you as Marcus' primary backup and expect you to be the starter in 2015," in that meeting. Too early to say where he'll end up.

Jeff Lindquist
Ranking: No. 17
School: Washington
Status: Potential starter
Comment: With Miles' status uncertain, Lindquist moved to the top of the depth chart by default during spring practice. Lindquist and Troy Williams competed as the only two quarterbacks through the spring. He hasn't attempted a pass for the Huskies, but had two carries for 10 yards in 2013.

Javelle Allen
Ranking: No. 26
School: Arizona
Status: Dismissed from team
Comment: Allen served as B.J. Denker's primary backup in 2013, but he was dimissed from the team before the Wildcats played in the AdvoCare V100 Bowl for violating team policies. He appeared in five games but attempted just one pass. It's unclear where his career will go from here.

[+] EnlargeTravis Wilson
AP Photo/Rick BowmerTravis Wilson so far has been the best Pac-12 QB from the 2012 signing class.
Travis Wilson
Ranking: No. 39
School: Utah
Status: Starter
Comment: The unquestioned success story (so far) from this class, Wilson is the only starter among the group. He started seven games as a true freshman and the Utes' first nines games in 2013 before a scary head injury cost him the rest of the season. The injury was serious enough that his career was in jeopardy, but it was announced in February that he would return. Wilson has thrown for 3,138 yards and 23 touchdowns.

Chase Hansen
Ranking: No. 43
School: Utah
Status: LDS mission
Comment: Hansen spent the 2012 season with the Utes, but he put his college football career on hold to depart on his LDS Church mission. He is expected to return to the team for the 2015 season.

Josh Kern
Ranking: No. 44
School: Arizona
Status: Converted to tight end
Comment: After redshirting in 2012, he converted to tight end and played in nine games last season -- mostly on special teams -- without recording a catch.

Shane Dillon
Ranking: No. 51
School: Colorado
Status: Transferred to play basketball (Cuyamaca JC)
Comment: Dillon left the school in July 2013 to pursue college basketball. He initially announced on Twitter he would play basketball at San Diego in the WCC, but that fell through and he landed at Cuyamaca Junior College in San Diego. In 27 games in the 2013-14 season, he averaged 11.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.

Wayne Capers
Ranking: No. 78
School: Arizona
Status: Transferred (Western Pennsylvania)
Comment: Although listed as a quarterback during the recruiting process by ESPN, Capers played defensive back for the Wildcats. He appeared in 11 games as a true freshman, but injuries limited him in 2013 before he left the program in November.

Jeff Lockie
Ranking:
No. 105
School:
Oregon
Status: No. 2 on depth chart
Comment: With Rodrigues' transfer, Lockie is in position to serve as Mariota's backup in 2014 -- which should allow for plenty of playing time -- and give him a leg up on becoming the starter in 2015. He completed 8 of 13 passes for 57 yards last year without a touchdown and one interception. At Monte Vista High in Danville, Calif., Lockie was crosstown rivals with Kline (San Ramon Valley High).

Austin Apodaca
Ranking: No. 111
School: Washington State
Status: Transferred (Mesa CC)
Comment: The writing was on the wall for Apodaca even though he was the Cougars' No. 2 quarterback in 2013. He didn't project to ever become the starter in Pullman and decided to transfer in February.

Brent VanderVeen
Ranking: No. 144
School: Oregon State
Status: Competing for backup job
Comment: VanderVeen redshirted in 2012, and sat at No. 3 on the depth chart in 2013 without throwing a pass. He's currently competing for the backup job with Kyle Kempt and Alabama transfer Luke Del Rio.

Note: Arizona State, Stanford and USC did not sign quarterbacks that year.
Oregon’s backup quarterback race -- which was a talking point all spring for the Ducks -- seems to be a bit more defined now considering one player has taken himself out of the discussion.

Despite the fact quarterback Jake Rodrigues came out of Oregon’s spring practices looking like the backup and heir apparent to Marcus Mariota, the redshirt sophomore has decided to transfer. That leaves Jeff Lockie, the other redshirt sophomore quarterback on the roster, as the backup by default.

[+] EnlargeJake Rodrigues
Scott Olmos/USA TODAY SportsJake Rodrigues decided to transfer after appearing to win the backup job to Marcus Mariota in the spring.
Coach Mark Helfrich was hesitant to name a definitive backup all through the spring season. Even after Rodrigues looked like the more complete signal-caller in the spring game, Helfrich still didn’t specify what he’d do if the Ducks were to find themselves in need of a QB if Mariota weren’t able to play.

Since Helfrich brought in two quarterbacks in the 2012 class, Lockie has been in a position where he has been fighting a classmate for the backup role behind Mariota. It’ll be interesting to see how he fares now that he is the guy behind the guy. If he doesn’t step up, Helfrich certainly has other options -- two redshirt freshmen, Taylor Alie and Damion Hobbs, as well as 2014 signee Morgan Mahalak.

With Mariota at the helm for another season, the Ducks should be fine, but the really interesting part of this seems to be the timing of Rodrigues’ decision. Rodrigues told CSNNW that his decision was completely based on football.

However, had Rodrigues decided after last season that Oregon football wasn’t working for him, he could’ve transferred during the winter. Though he would’ve still been ineligible to play in 2014, he could’ve been at a school for spring practice. This would’ve given him a chance to become acquainted with a new system, coaching staff and teammates. But since he didn’t make the decision until after the spring -- a spring in which he appeared by most accounts to be the go-to backup -- he now puts himself a bit behind the 8-ball in terms of transfer options.

So it appears as though Oregon quarterbacks -- those still on the roster, and those looking for another roster -- will continue to be an interesting issue this summer.
EUGENE, Ore. -- The backup quarterback position is likely the best and worst position in football all at once.

They are the default answer that’s found whenever the starting quarterback struggles or misses an open receiver or an “obvious” read. The fans will say that the backup would’ve made that pass or play if he were in the game. But at the same time, especially when he’s behind a player such as Marcus Mariota, the chances that the backup will ever get into the game when it is in doubt are few and far between and likely will only happen upon an injury, which no one wants to see. In Oregon's case last season, that wasn't even enough to get the backups in.

“The backup quarterback is always the kind of hero who never has to prove himself,” Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said.

[+] EnlargeJake Rodrigues
Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY SportsJake Rodrigues is trying to beat out fellow sophomore Jeff Lockie for Oregon's backup QB job.
For the Oregon Ducks, redshirt sophomores Jeff Lockie and Jake Rodrigues currently occupy that best/worst position. But what makes it even more difficult is that they are completely different players.

Nearly three quarters of the way through the spring season, there’s still no clear separation between the two signal-callers.

“I think ideally that plays itself out; there’s separation,” Helfrich said. “But sometimes it doesn’t happen. And you can’t fake that. That’s not something you want to try to create or have it happen in an artificial way ... That’s not the end of the world, either.”

This spring’s no-clear-backup situation isn’t new for Oregon -- last season was the same for Lockie and Rodrigues. Both saw the field in 2013, combining for 124 yards on 11 of 19 passing, two interceptions and one touchdown (thrown by Rodrigues).

But none of those statistics came in the pivotal game of 2013, when the Ducks lost to Stanford 26-20 with Mariota, and his sprained MCL, running the offense. Helfrich said on Friday that if that were to occur again, he’d be confident putting either Lockie or Rodrigues in the game. Helfrich said that people misunderstood that situation last season, as it wasn't a case of him not having confidence in either backup.

“Both of those guys want to be that [backup] guy, but there was never enough separation to have that happen last year,” Helfrich said. “I think, again, in some ways it’s a good thing because they were both kind of banged up at different times last year. ... At the same time, we didn’t just throw someone down to the scout team and keep someone up and force the issue.”

With Lockie and Rodrigues occupying the No. 2 spot behind Mariota, the No. 3 or No. 4 spots (or No. 4 and No. 5 spots) are filled by the other two QBs on the Ducks roster, redshirt freshmen Taylor Alie and Damion Hobbs. Four-star signal caller Morgan Mahalak signed with the Ducks in February but won’t enroll until this fall.

Helfrich said that the current quarterbacks “have a ton of reps on him, but you recruit guys for a reason.” So, there’s no reason to rule Mahalak out of any kind of position race, though it seems far more likely for his battle to come against Alie and Hobbs on the scout team.

An abundance of options is one "problem" that coaches want to have. At some point, Helfrich might need to make the decision of which player will be the definitive No. 2 behind Mariota. In the perfect world, it’ll be because the Ducks have a big lead and not a Mariota injury. But even then, Helfrich will have to make that decision and give one of his unproven heroes the chance to finally prove himself.
Football will be back in Eugene soon enough, but it’s always good to reflect on 2013 and see what can be learned from last season and taken into next. Leading up to spring football, we’re going to break down some stats that need to improve next season.

Stat: Third-down passing conversions

Backing that up: The Ducks were quite fortunate at quarterback last season. Marcus Mariota had an incredible season. He threw for 3,665 yards and 31 touchdowns with only four interceptions. And when his backups stepped in, they played well too. Jeff Lockie appeared in nine games and completed 8 of 13 passes for 57 yards. Jake Rodrigues played in seven games, completing 3 of 6 passes and threw for one touchdown.

Their combined numbers put them near the top of the nation in almost every single important quarterback statistic. The Ducks completed 60.5 percent of their passes of 10-plus yards (No. 9 nationally), 68 percent of their completions gained a first down or touchdown (No. 7 nationally) and one in every 13 passes scored a touchdown (No. 7 nationally).

But, there was one area in which the Oregon quarterbacks struggled mightily -- third-down passing conversions. In this category the Ducks completed just 32.4 of their passes, moving them from one of the nation’s best group to No. 77 nationally.

Of the 12 FBS teams the Ducks played, their defenses gave up completions on 34.8 of opposing teams’ third-down passing conversions. The difference of 2.4 percent might not seem like a big deal and in most cases it wouldn’t be. It’s just so strange in Oregon’s case because in so many of the other statistical categories the Duck offense destroyed their opponents.

Passing yards per game:
Oregon’s offense: 291.5 yards
12 FBS opponents’ defenses: 248.7 yards

Yards per completion:
Oregon’s offense: 14.8 yards
12 FBS opponents’ defenses: 12.1 yards

Touchdowns per passing attempt:
Oregon’s offense: 7.9 percent
12 FBS opponents’ defenses: 4.6 percent

Percent of completions that went for 10-plus yards:
Oregon’s offense: 60.5 percent
12 FBS opponents’ defenses: 46.5 percent

Percent of completions that gained a first down or touchdown:
Oregon’s offense: 68 percent
12 FBS opponents’ defenses: 55.3 percent

Percentage of completions on third-down passes:
Oregon’s offense: 32.4 percent
12 FBS opponents’ defenses: 34.8 percent

So when looking at the Oregon offense next season and the strides it must take, third-down passing conversions certainly needs to be a part of the Ducks’ game that needs to move along.

In every category the Ducks are a top-10 team and when Mariota is discussed, his peers are the Jameis Winstons of the world. But in this category that was far from the case as Winston (49), Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater (52.2 percent), Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel (49 percent) and Stanford’s Kevin Hogan (44.6 percent) were far superior to Mariota.

Other stats that must improve:

Spring position breakdown: QBs

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Spring has sprung in the Pac-12, with Stanford starting spring practices this week and several schools following suit next week.

Ergo, we break down where teams stand with each position group, starting with quarterbacks.

Arizona: The Wildcats probably have the most wide-open QB competition, with four guys having a legitimate chance to replace the departed B.J. Denker. Three are transfers from big-time programs: senior Jesse Scroggins (USC), sophomore Connor Brewer (Texas) and junior Jerrard Randall (LSU). The fourth, redshirt freshman Anu Solomon, was one of the biggest stars in the 2013 recruiting class. Don't expect much to be settled by the end of spring, though coach Rich Rodriguez might at least allude to some sort of pecking order. Or a top three.

Arizona State: The Sun Devils are strong at QB with senior Taylor Kelly, a third-year starter who has put up big numbers the past two seasons, and junior Mike Bercovici, a big-armed backup -- perhaps, in fact, the best backup in the Pac-12. That's why Michael Eubank opted to transfer to Samford in Birmingham, Ala. It will be interesting to see which of the youngsters on the roster emerge as a No.3, a guy who might challenge Bercovici in 2015.

California: It seems unlikely that sophomore Jared Goff will be unseated, particularly after Zach Kline opted to transfer. Goff was uneven last season -- his entire team was -- but flashed plenty of potential. He and a talented crew of receivers should get better this spring. The big question might be whether anyone challenges senior Austin Hinder for the backup job.

Colorado: Sophomore Sefo Liufau is solid as the returning starter. He took some lumps last season but also flashed plenty of promise -- as both a player and leader. After him, there's junior college transfer Jordan Gehrke, a redshirt sophomore, the likely backup. Depth is a problem, at least this spring. As the Boulder Daily Camera noted, "Five quarterbacks have left the CU program either to transfer to other schools or give up the sport entirely since the start of spring football last year. A sixth completed his eligibility last season." That's why the Buffs added walk-on Trent Sessions to the roster. He worked with the equipment staff last year.

Oregon: The Ducks probably feel pretty good about their third-year starter, junior Marcus Mariota, a leading 2014 Heisman Trophy candidate who would have been a first-round pick if he'd entered the 2014 NFL draft. The competition for the backup spot, however, will be interesting because Mariota is almost certain to enter the NFL draft after the season. Sophomores Jeff Lockie and Jake Rodrigues are 2A and 2B, with Lockie first off the bench as the backup in 2013, but Rodrigues the more physically talented player as a runner and passer.

Oregon State: Like their friends to the south, Oregon State is fortunate its 2013 starter, Sean Mannion, decided to return instead of entering the NFL draft. Mannion's chief focus will be finding some receivers to replace the production of the departed Brandin Cooks. The battle for the backup job also will be interesting between sophomore Brent VanderVeen and redshirt freshman Kyle Kempt. Of course, their battle might not resolve things much for 2015, with incoming Alabama transfer Luke Del Rio joining the fray after sitting out a season.

Stanford: It seems unlikely that two-year starter Kevin Hogan will be challenged for the starting job this spring, even though he had some ups and downs in 2013, but there is no lack of talent battling for the backup job. Junior Evan Crower was the backup in 2013, but redshirt freshman Ryan Burns is a big-time talent. As is incoming freshman Keller Chryst, who officially will arrive in the fall but, as a Palo Alto resident, figures to hang around spring practices.

UCLA: Heading into his third season running the offense, Brett Hundley gives the Bruins one of the best starting quarterbacks in the nation. He's a proven dual threat and leader who will be refining his game this spring and building chemistry with his receivers. After him, however, things are a bit iffy, in large part because of the 2013 preseason transfer of T.J. Millweard to Kansas. The chief competitors for the backup job are Jerry Neuheisel, the 2013 backup, and redshirt freshman Asiantii Woulard, with Woulard being the guy with the most future upside. Of course, there is another QB out there some UCLA fans might be thinking about.

USC: The returning starter facing the most formidable challenge to his starting job this spring is probably Cody Kessler, even though Kessler played well in the second half of the 2013 season. With the transfer of Max Wittek, touted redshirt freshman Max Browne, at the very least, sets up to be a high-quality backup next season. But plenty of folks think Browne has a legitimate shot to unseat Kessler, particularly with new coach Steve Sarkisian taking over.

Utah: There's still no final word on the long-term health issue that might end QB Travis Wilson's career, and anything decisive might not come for weeks. If Wilson gets cleared, the good bet is on him returning to the starting job. If not, a spring competition will begin between Adam Schulz, who stepped in when Wilson went down, and redshirt freshmen Conner Manning and Brandon Cox. In the fall, dual-threat QB Donovan Isom arrives.

Washington: Keith Price, a three-year starter, is gone, but the Huskies seemed fairly set at QB with sophomore backup Cyler Miles appearing plenty capable of stepping into the cockpit this spring. In limited action last season, Miles completed 61 percent of his throws for 418 yards with four TDs and two picks, and he also showed good mobility, rushing for 200 yards. The pecking order at least seemed set, that is, until Miles got into some off-field trouble that threatens his status for spring practice and perhaps beyond. If Miles is still suspended, that means opportunity comes knocking for sophomore Jeff Lindquist or redshirt freshman Troy Williams to make an impression.

Washington State: Connor Halliday will be a senior, three-year starter and the Cougars' top leader in the third season running Mike Leach's "Air Raid" offense. He figures to put up huge numbers this fall with a strong crew of receivers. His 2013 backup, sophomore Austin Apodaca, opted to transfer, perhaps believing that redshirt freshman Tyler Bruggman had the inside track to the starting job in 2015. Depth is a bit of a question, with the No. 3 this fall likely being true freshman Peyton Bender.

Oregon recruiting mailbag 

April, 26, 2013
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With the NFL draft under way, the spring game on Saturday, a recent commitment and a couple of unofficial visitors, there is plenty to discuss around the Oregon football program. Some of the best questions regarding the most common subjects:

Julie C. (Chandler, Ariz.): With Dion Jordan going so high in the NFL draft (No. 3 to Miami Dolphins), do you feel like that might have some sort of effect on the Ducks' recruiting efforts in the Class of 2014? It seems like the publicity it provides could be the kind of thing that coaches can rely on as an additional recruiting pitch.

Oregon recruiting: Quick hitters 

January, 23, 2013
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With news flying around faster than a Mark Helfrich-led offense, DuckNation has gathered the latest developments from the recruiting trail. Coaching changes, official visitors, canceled visits, rescheduled visits and commitments taking trips elsewhere are just some of the developments in the past few days.

ESPN 300 members Cameron Hunt (Corona, Calif./Centennial), Torrodney Prevot (Houston, Texas/Alief Taylor) and Zach Cunningham (Pinson, Ala./Pinson Valley) were all in Eugene over the weekend and all three liked what they saw. Prevot, the No. 235 player in the ESPN 300 -- who could play defensive end or linebacker -- remains committed to USC, but visits to Texas A&M and Notre Dame await. He will make a final decision on signing day.

Hunt -- No. 275 in the ESPN 300 -- remains committed to California, but the offensive lineman will wait until signing day to decide. He will be in Berkeley this weekend and then return home to examine his options. Cal, Ohio State and Oregon, are the three programs he will likely choose from, as Michigan appears to be out of spots on the OL.

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McEvoy could replace a transferring QB 

December, 29, 2012
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Tanner McEvoyJim Dedmon/Icon SMITanner McEvoy, shown in the 2012 spring game for South Carolina, transferred before the season to Arizona Western College. He's likely choosing between West Virginia and Oregon.
With four underclassmen at quarterback, the Oregon Ducks could lose a quarterback to transfer this offseason.

With a freshman starter, a sophomore backup and two other freshmen in reserve, the Oregon Ducks are stocked with young quarterbacks and could be faced with the departure of one of their backups in the near future. Marcus Mariota beat out expected starter Bryan Bennett last summer and is the unquestioned starter going forward, likely for multiple seasons.

There has been a steady flow of rumors surrounding Bennett's possible transfer since the day Mariota was named the starter. Redshirt freshman Jake Rodrigues or Jeff Lockie could also choose to leave with Mariota clearly in control of the position.

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Oregon recruiting mailbag: Dec. 21 

December, 21, 2012
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The holidays are here and the Ducks are getting set to push toward signing day in February. The DuckNation mailbag has been overflowing with questions. It's about time to lighten the load and get right to it.


Stephen R. (Laguna Beach, Calif.): Are the Ducks really lagging this bad in recruiting? An offensive lineman from New Jersey that Stony Brook and Delaware wouldn't offer, now has an offer from a top-five team with an almost two months left until signing day. We should be doing better!

DuckNation: I guess Chip Kelly and Steve Greatwood -- two former national coaches of the year -- should call NFL All-Pro Max Unger of the Seattle Seahawks and remind him that he isn't supposed to be any good. Unger was a recruit that nobody wanted out of Hawaii and he turned out to be ok. A lot of fans hate the term, 'trust the coaches,' but really, trust the coaches. Also, check out Jake Pisarcik's senior film and you'll likely be singing a different tune.

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Oregon Ducks weekly mailbag 

August, 31, 2012
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It has been an interesting week for the Oregon Ducks. From naming a starting quarterback, potentially getting a transfer, official visits being set up by top recruits and the season opener against Arkansas State, it's fair to say that things are heating up in Eugene.

With a flurry of activity surrounding the program, it is now time to open up the mailbag and answer your questions.

[+] EnlargeBryan Bennett
Jim Z. Rider/US PresswireOregon sophomore quarterback Bryan Bennett passed for 369 yards and six touchdowns and ran for 200 yards on 23 carries last year when he stepped in for an injured Darron Thomas.
Mike L. (Portland, Ore.): With Marcus Mariota being named the starter, it leaves Bryan Bennett with three years left as a backup. Like Mariota, freshman Jake Rodrigues and Jeff Lockie both have four years left. Bennett has said he's staying, but I could see him or one of the freshmen leaving this season. Should the Ducks turn their quarterback recruiting up a notch for 2013?

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Oregon kicks off camp on Monday 

August, 5, 2012
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Kenjon Barner Jeff Gross/Getty ImagesKenjon Barner should get the majority of carries in the backfield this season.
The defending league champion Oregon Ducks kick off their quest for a Pac-12 four-peat when fall camp kicks off on Monday. The Ducks won the last two Pac-10 titles and the inaugural Pac-12 title; now they want to be the first back-to-back Pac-12 champions.

When fall camp kicks off there will be many familiar faces and also some notable players missing.

Gone are record-setting quarterback Darron Thomas, all-time leading rusher LaMichael James, team MVP David Paulson, the team's most improved player, Eddie Pleasant, and Rose Bowl Offensive MVP LaVasier Tuinei. How will they replace the departed stars? Who will step up? Is a fourth consecutive league title possible?

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Bryan BennettJim Z. Rider/US PresswireRedshirt sophomore Bryan Bennett is no stranger to performing in tough situations. In high school he was forced to take the helm and led his Encinco (Calif.) Crespi team to an 11-3 record.

Many outside of the Oregon program are expecting the Ducks to take a back seat to USC in 2012, due in large part to the loss of Darron Thomas at quarterback. Following Thomas out the door are his experience, leadership and toughness. The Ducks have a lot of talent waiting in the wings at the quarterback spot, but no one with significant experience.

While losing a record setting quarterback is always tough to recover from, the Ducks have had no problem doing so in the past. After Kellen Clemens came Dennis Dixon. After Dixon came Jeremiah Masoli. After Masoli, Thomas stepped in and took over the job. Now Bryan Bennett and Marcus Mariota battle to take over the Ducks’ offense.

The good news for the Ducks is that both candidates have a redshirt year under their belts that helped them adjust to the Oregon. More good news is that the skill level around them is at an all-time high. It should make for a fairly easy transition, especially with the favorable schedule in the first two months of the season.

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Most college programs make it a point to bring in at least one quarterback in every recruiting class due to the importance of the position. With Oregon's unique offense and the fact that the quarterbacks in Chip Kelly's system are in the open field more than most, the Ducks have always tried to follow this rule.

With a number of young signal callers on the roster, the Ducks are being even more selective than usual in issuing scholarship offers to quarterbacks in the class of 2013.

When Anthony Jennings (Marietta, Ga./Marietta) opted to commit to LSU in early June, the Ducks began looking at other quarterbacks that would be a good fit in Eugene. The next quarterback to earn an offer from the Oregon coaching staff was Johnny Stanton (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif./Santa Margarita Catholic).

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ArmsteadDamon SaylesArik Armstead, at 6-foot-7 and 280 pounds, brings the size and athleticism that will make it nearly impossible to keep him off the field.

By hauling in the No. 18 recruiting class in 2012 the Oregon Ducks added more depth, size and skill to an already young and talented roster. The class, heavy on defense and elite skill-position players, could see a number of newcomers make an immediate impact in Eugene.

Most likely to see the field

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