QB play is ruining a promising season for Oregon
We said it from very early on in the season, but the quarterback issues at Oregon have ruined a potential national title run for the Ducks in 2015, despite having several standout performers on both sides of the ball. It was never going to be easy to fill the void of Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota, our highest-graded quarterback in 2014. That being said, with an offense that is considered by many to be so quarterback friendly, I don’t think anyone at Oregon would have expected to be 3-3 at the halfway mark of the 2015 season.
Vernon Adams Jr. (-5.8 grade) transferred from Eastern Washington this offseason, and despite his lack of experience within the offense and an injured finger, opened the season as the starter. He’s graded negatively in all three games he has played in so far, however, and just never looked comfortable at quarterback for the Ducks. Often opting to run for a couple of yards instead of trusting his arm to reach an open receiver, he made the offense look at lot harder than it needs to be, which eventually led to Jeff Lockie (-9.1) taking over as the starter.
We didn’t see much of Mariota’s backup in 2014 (Lockie earned a -2.3 grade in limited action), but like Adams, Lockie really hasn’t looked good at all this year. We’re into the second half of the season already, and he has as many completions (2) on passes thrown 20 yards or more downfield as he does interceptions on passes of that distance, hindering the ability of the Oregon offense to create big plays down the field.
The quarterback issues have become so much of a talking point that we aren’t hearing enough about the big seasons by running back Royce Freeman (+12.3 grade, top 5 at his position), right tackle Tyrell Crosby (+21.5, No. 1 at his position) and defensive end DeForest Buckner (+41.1, No. 1 at his position). More importantly, though, with six conference games left to play, it means the Ducks have a fight on their hands just to become bowl-eligible – which would have been unheard of heading into the season.
They’ll have a chance to get back on track this week against Washington – which just so happens to be the team Adams lit up for 467 yards, 7 touchdowns and 0 interceptions (good for a +3.3 grade) last season while still the quarterback at Eastern Washington.