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FishDuck Article

Oregon’s Unexpected Answer to Quarterback-Quandary

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And so the plot thickens. The Oregon Ducks entered the offseason expecting a full-blown quarterback competition. Tyler Shough started every game for the Ducks in 2020, but his inconsistent play and questionable decision making led to backup Anthony Brown seeing plenty of snaps throughout the team’s final two games. With Brown opting to remain at Oregon for his final year ...

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IMO, the Ducks should look toward the future starting now. 

The Ducks still have a couple of issues that need to be improved in order to make a run at the National Championship. 
     1) The Ducks defense needs time to settle in with its new DC and to get injured players back on the field and caught up with actual play time. 
     2) The Ducks still have a QB problem. Brown IMO will not get them a playoff win. He may get them there but that is as far as he can take them. Also keep in mind that if Brown starts the season Butterfield will transfer out in a heartbeat. 
     3) For the Ducks to win a National Championship they have to "make a run at it", rather then be a naturally part of the championship rotation. They have to have the Sun, the Moon and the team in the right position to get thru the playoffs and into the championship game.
     4) The Ducks need a heavy weight running back that can take a beating and get the TD's. The two light weight backs we have now won't hack it thru the playoffs and a championship game. 

A run at a National Championship would better fit in 2022 then in 2021. A third Pac-12 title in 2021 would be a solid goal.

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1 hour ago, BigDucksFan said:

 Also keep in mind that if Brown starts the season Butterfield will transfer out in a heartbeat. 

I understand young QBs want to play, but Jay Butterfield just got here. I see suggestions one foot might be out the door (but with the "COVID do-over") JB is essentially going to be a true freshman again, the same as Ty Thompson. JB was 247's #5 PRO QB in 2020 and TT was #247's #4 PRO QB in 2021, I imagine if he went to any top 25 or better type program, he knew there was going to be some competition, why not hang around a bit and see how things shake out? (I guess the suggestion is TT is going to go all Slovis and lock the thing down as a true, but, that is far from determined). My guess is JB spends most of 2021 as #2 QB and competes for 2022. If TT wins, JB waits again as #2 in 2022, and if p.t. still looks unlikely, he graduates in 3 years and transfers with 3 years still to play with no penalty (of course that could all be wrong).

I see a lot of optimism for 2022, but I could see a possible set of circumstances where the Ducks again face essentially 5 new starters on the OL along with KT leaving early for 2022. Georgia in Atlanta too. That's a lot for a NC run. 2023 looks more like it to me (Portland State, Texas Tech, Hawaii and 5 conference home games listed) with TT/JB hitting his QB stride, that young 2020 and 2021 OL group with more time under their belts, and maybe even a pair of guys like JTT and Cyrus Moss leading the way up front (ok that's a huge "what if" but that's kinda how you get there, no?).

Edited by AnotherOD
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I don't think you can answer that question until TY puts on some Duck pads and starts playing against the Duck D. He may look the part on film but he still needs to grasp the offense and be productive. Hard to let him learn on the fly and possibly lose games when you have a proven QB even though he is only a 1 season QB.

I also don't think you can let Ty sit on the bench the whole season. But again is he good enough to manage a whole game or when the games on the line?

As for the coaches making the decision it's easy for them to see which QB moves the ball with the least amount of mistakes. If we have a spring game that will at least give some kind of indication who the QB might be.

 

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"Thompson is undoubtedly the future of the program. It’s a matter of “when” not “if” he’ll start."

I hope the coaches don't go into the spring thinking this way. It is bad enough when the NFL drafts a sure thing and puts the qb into the starters role too early. I don't want to see our program put Ty in just because the talent scouts say he is the highest rated qb on the roster.

There will be a competition and we have no idea who will come out of top. I hope the coaches are evaluating everything going forward, and few of the stuff which has happened up to this point. We need the qb who is the best for this program, this offense and this team of players.

We don't need the next in line, the most experienced, the highest rated or any of a number of metrics which some may look to.  What we need is the guy who has proven he has the 'it' factor in our offense, with our players.

We also need a couple guys who know they are next in line and have a real opportunity to lead this team. This has to be an open competition where everyone knows who wins and what is going to take to grow into that position.

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A few weeks ago, I was certain that Thompson would be the QB in 2021, he looked that good in the highlights. But, then I sat back, read some other posts here, and paused, that perhaps throwing a true freshman in to the fire when there are more experienced quarterbacks available, might not be the best idea. 

The quarterback competition needs to be just that. Brown, Butterfield, Ashford, Thompson, will all have their chance to impress the coaches and the hierarchy set. I trust that whoever it is that emerges as the starting QB will give the Ducks their best shot at winning, at Ohio State, the Pac-12 championship for the 3rd year in a row, and maybe the playoff. 

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Brown is a very average QB IMO. He's more of a stopgap solution in the short run. The bigger concern I have is the development of the QBs post-Helfrich and the offensive scheme.  Herbert was way under-utilized in this golden era of passing. 

JoMo wants to run the QB more, which is fine, but is Butters that type of QB?  If that's the direction we're going to head then having an uber athletic QB that scares the D is necessary.  I don't believe Brown is that guy due to his knee injuries.  Robby Ashford is definitely that guy.  His athletic ability is off the charts and he would turbo charge the running game and create more explosion plays.  I'm not advocating to run the QB more but if that's what the staff wants to do then get a guy like Colin  Kaepernick or Lamar Jackson at QB. 

My preference is to lean on the pass more.  Attack teams horizontally and vertically.  Use all the skill players as receivers.  Butters would be a better fit in that type of system.  Thompson might be that guy too.  I just don't see us going in that direction offensively.  We're stuck with the pistol for better or worse. 

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I will also say none of us know who is going to come out on top, not even the coaches. I have romanced the idea of Ashford coming out on top because of my bias's. I completely acknowledge that, and will be fine if one of the others becomes the starter.

I just want to see a competition where one guy comes out on top. I also want to see the other guys valued, and ready to take over. This won't be an easy job with so many ego's and such an open spot to fill.

Probably the toughest job is having so many qualified candidates, and being able to have each one think they got a fair shot. This will probably be the most important job as we need to have an elite back-up ready to go.

If we are already saying Ty, JB, AB or Ashford should start I can only imagine the talk on the team. The toughest job will be to lead this team towards another leader gracefully.

Edited by Haywarduck
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I think a significant piece of the puzzle here will be the run game. Whoever the quarterback ends up being, will need to be complimented with a solid run game. Verdell and Dye are both going to see the field but neither are big enough to batter down the opposing defensive line. Will Benson or Cardwell get significant snaps with their size to keep the defensive line in check? If the run game can counter constant defensive pressure then that will open up the passing game and give the quarterback more time to do their job.

In terms of raw athleticism Thompson is the better athlete though he lacks experience, this has been said a million times. What the run game can provide might give him the nod over Brown because Thompson will have the TIME he will need to grow.

Going back into some recent examples of how a strong run games allows for young quarterbacks to succeed we can look at Marcus Mariota becoming the starting quarterback as a redshirt freshman in 2012. Kenjon Barner was the starting runningback and Barner's power running ability allowed Mariota to play to his strengths, and we will just let the rest of Mariota's career speak for itself.

Herbert did have the potential for a strong running game as a true freshman with Freeman being the starting back. However, Freeman had some minor injuries in 2016. Furthermore, that was the year of the redshirt Freshman offensive line.

In 2021 the quarterback is going to have a pretty good offensive line and some experienced runningbacks. Though the question will be can the combination of the offensive line and those runningbacks make enough of a run game so that the quarterback can settle into the game without constant fear of having to run for their life.

If we were to try and pinpoint Shough's collapse this last year it really came when he didn't settle into the passing game and he got too anxious and would not look to extend the passing play but become a full time runner. This really came at a point in the season where the offensive line struggled more and the run game was not consistently effective.

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I never really saw Barner as a power runner at all. He's not that big, about 195#. He was very quick, though.  His production was due to Chip Kelly's blur offense and Mariota's elite athleticism.  Barner wouldn't come close to his production under Kelly in the current scheme IMO. 

Shough has all the tools.  I question his development under the coaching staff.  I think he's a better player than what he's shown on the field.  

Edited by ptdduck
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44 minutes ago, ptdduck said:

I never really saw Barner as a power runner at all. He's not that big, about 195#. He was very quick, though.  His production was due to Chip Kelly's blur offense and Mariota's elite athleticism.  Barner wouldn't come close to his production under Kelly in the current scheme IMO.

I would agree... Perhaps power runner isn't the right word. He did run between the tackles quite effectively though on the whole. 

Verdell runs with power but lacks the size considering how he seems to seek out contact. Barner ran with power but used his agility to bounce and slip tackles. 

Regardless.... Barner gave Mariota a very solid run game to help take some of the pressure off him during his freshman year starting. 

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I think keeping confidence at an all time high is important with Ty, Butterfield and Ashford..... Brown has the confidence but maybe not the straight up talent of the others but the last thing I'd want to do is to have  another "SHOUGH Effect"  with my freshman.  Brown seems logical till probably mid season and then you never know what can happen but I would not let Ty be fed to the Buckeyes  as a true freshman.  He can more than redeem himself as a RF against Georgia the next year! 

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I was kind of hoping that Anthony Brown would move on and we could develop our QB for the future starting right now.

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Once again, surprised so many negative views on Anthony Brown after 23 passes.

Not only 23 passes, but 23 passes - after not playing football in over a year (leg injury) - in a new system after not playing a snap all season. That then finally being thrown into the middle of a close Pac-12 Championship game - then into the middle of the Fiesta Bowl mess. No Portland State, Wyoming, or Fresno State to bump off the rust (not even some WSU or OSU).

Given that, 15-23 (65%) for 164 with 2-0 TD/INT and 40 more rushing yards with 2 more TDs seems pretty good...

 

Edited by AnotherOD
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Wow, so much to unfold in this discussion...

First, I don't think the coaching staff should base the decision on the likelihood of a transfer from the loser(s) of the competition. In today's day and age, transfers are going to happen, plain and simple. To be honest, it's highly unlikely two of the three freshman quarterbacks on the roster (Ashford, Butterfield and Thompson) will be here two years from now. That's just the nature of the business these days, and that's okay. With the way we're recruiting, they'll be replaced by other blue-chip prospects (many of whom will also transfer, and so the cycle continues). 

I agree that Thompson should not start (now or at any point) simply based on his recruiting ranking. If the coaching staff believes other options are better, then he should sit. However, I'm merely suggesting that in all likelihood, he will eventually emerge as the best option (whether that's as a true freshman or sometime in the future) based on his skill set and talent. It's not a guarantee, but a reasonable assumption. 

The points brought up about the presence of the QB in the running game are critical and cannot be overlooked. Shough isn't a natural runner (which is why Brown was brought in on goal-line packages), and it limited Moorhead's offense to a degree. I think it would take an extremely gifted passer for Cristobal and Moorhead not to roll with a dual-threat this time around. Perhaps Butterfield falls into the "extremely gifted" category, but I think that's the only way he beats out the more athletic players ahead of him.

Ashford is the wildcard in this race, and his athleticism is a huge benefit. The question is, how much can he develop if he has another sport on his mind?

I'm in complete agreement that it does nobody on the roster any good to leave the fall without a clear determined winner. I've never been a fan of rotating quarterbacks, and while it can work under the right circumstances, I'd rather not take that chance.

Personally, at this way-too-early juncture, I think Brown is the QB that gives us the best chance to win out of the gate. I was very impressed with how well he functioned within the offense in his limited action, and while he's not an exceptional talent, he executed the routine plays that Shough seemed to struggle with as time went on. Plus, he's a good, physical runner that should actually threaten defenses and open up the inside game for the backs.

A few months from now, my thoughts could be completely different, as Butterfield and Thompson have the potential to be NFL-type passers. But there's just no way to determine how comfortable they are reading defenses and going through progressions at this point. Accuracy and arm strength don't do all that much for a quarterback if he can't consistently locate open receivers. Brown did that much last year, and I think that in and of itself will upgrade the offense significantly.

Regarding Oregon's playoff/championship aspirations, there's really no reason why 2021 shouldn't be the season the Ducks make a run. By now, we're far more talented on paper than just about all of our conference foes. The roster is bigger, stronger and faster than ever. And I believe we have a gem of an offensive coordinator.

The Ohio State game is tricky (although it's far more winnable this year than it was a year ago), but there's really no excuse to drop any other games. We have weaknesses (I'm with everyone else on the backfield situation, and our defensive line -- minus Thibodeaux -- is a big question mark), but none that should be detrimental during the regular season. I don't think we have the guys on the defensive line to beat the Clemsons and Alabamas of the world just yet, but I'd consider it a disappointment if we don't find ourselves in the playoff conversation by the season's end.

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That is a great question about the QB position. If you get a chance to look at his film it's pretty good. He actually looks very calm in his playing. I say compete if you want the job. I wouldn't be surprised to see Thompson except I would rather see how good Brown would look running Mooreheads's offense. I think it's a good thing to have. True blue not afraid of some competition because it's going to make me better. Either way Shough was a surprise to me but maybe he saw something we didn't.

Great stuff and I can't wait for a injury free season with everyone contributing for the same goals and they actually get it. Grow up and take the opurtunity to win big games and bring the UO up even bigger heights. Go Ducks!

 

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On 2/22/2021 at 2:45 AM, BigDucksFan said:

IMO, the Ducks should look toward the future starting now. 

The Ducks still have a couple of issues that need to be improved in order to make a run at the National Championship. 
     1) The Ducks defense needs time to settle in with its new DC and to get injured players back on the field and caught up with actual play time. 
     2) The Ducks still have a QB problem. Brown IMO will not get them a playoff win. He may get them there but that is as far as he can take them. Also keep in mind that if Brown starts the season Butterfield will transfer out in a heartbeat. 
     3) For the Ducks to win a National Championship they have to "make a run at it", rather then be a naturally part of the championship rotation. They have to have the Sun, the Moon and the team in the right position to get thru the playoffs and into the championship game.
     4) The Ducks need a heavy weight running back that can take a beating and get the TD's. The two light weight backs we have now won't hack it thru the playoffs and a championship game. 

A run at a National Championship would better fit in 2022 then in 2021. A third Pac-12 title in 2021 would be a solid goal.

I love the sentiment BDF (“I love you man” lol).  

My emphasis: Now.

There is no tomorrow.  And while we don’t have a bruiser like Rolls Royce, we have an OC that knows how to get guys open in space.  Our RBs are going to have to be receivers that can get those five to six yard gains agains speedy defenses.  

Our WRs, even if not hypersonic fast, or Michael Irvin dangerous, are with an OC that dials up explosive plays.  We have a HUGE offensive line-and an OC that knows how to use them.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, if MC needs to take a walk off the field when the offense is on the field, so be it.  
 

So, a fully loaded QB room is the difference maker.  And we need two, maybe three to rise more dangerously than Darth Vader did before he obliterated the Universe.  That’s how I’d coach that unit.  Be better than you ever dreamed you could be.  Because even if you leave, you’ll have set yourself up to claim someone else’s spot at another school. And in the meantime, no injury will hurt us.  

Now the defense?  Should be 2019 stellar.  Best ever, with maybe the exception of 2010(that defense shut down and beat down an explosive Tiger team DESPITE gashing run gains-22 points!!! Half what Scam Cam yielded all year).  We have more talent than any defense ever fielded in Oregon history.  Even without a Buckner and Armstead tandem.

It cracks me up that Superman Mario Cristobal wants to fight in a phone booth.  The dude can fly to the edges of the Universe, and he wants to use 3 square feet! 

So...it’s either beat down the most explosive offenses college football has ever seen, or slow then down and outscore them.  Either way, who cares about 2023.  It is February 24, 2021.  The NEXT title game is in 11 months.  You know who is going to challenge without all the talent in place? North Carolina.  So we BETTER stop making excuses.  

You win with the horses you have in your stable, not against the field they compete against.  Make the elite play a perfect game.  Believe you can catch lightning in a bottle.  Our future is NOW. You must believe you can beat Ohio State before you play them.  You must prepare for Bama, Clemson and LSU before you take the field.  In fact, all preparation SHOULD be for that set, and the effect should net dominant victories against everyone else(if you can design game plans for that group, you SHOULD be able to 86 normal teams).

All I care about is this: our boys give their all-every second for the next eleven months.  Every cell, every drop of sweat, every breath of energy.  The chips will fall much better if they give the effort of their lives to winning a title this year.  And the same goes with “I did it my way” Cristobal.

The six inches between your head make the difference between winning and losing.  
 

Carpe Diem.

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I am with BDF on this. Play the long game.....the smart game. Start Thompson now and within a few seasons reap the rewards of a well thought out decision. 

In my mind Butterfield has already transferred. It's in his best interest and I don't/won't blame him for it.

Obviously play the best we can and give it a 110% in the upcoming season and believe we can win every game to make the playoff and win the championship..... but the reality is that stopgaps at a a position like QB don't cut it in this highly competitive sport. And based on what we saw in the COVID season it seems there is much more climbing to do to make it to the top of that mountain.

There are many recent examples of big programs recruiting an elite QB and starting them immediately (Clemson and OU come to mind in the very recent past).

Besides, until we solve the defensive line issue (the achilles heel of this team since time immortal) then most of our dreaming of competing with Alabama, tOSU, Clemson etc. etc. is just that.......dreaming.

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