Oregon offense could be explosive with new QB Vernon Adams
(Note: This article has been updated based on the news that Vernon Adams has been listed as Oregon’s starting quarterback.)
The news broke Friday that Vernon Adams had been listed as Oregon’s starter for its season opener against Eastern Washington — ironic because that’s the FCS school Adams transferred to the Ducks from this offseason.
Adams had been competing with redshirt junior Jeff Lockie for the starting job, and will now be tasked with filling some rather big shoes in departed Heisman winner and second overall NFL draft pick Marcus Mariota.
Adams certainly appeared to be the higher-upside option. He is an unknown as an FBS starting quarterback, but Lockie failed to stand out in his garbage-time appearances in 2014. He completed 21 of 28 passes for 207 yards and a score, but he graded negatively in his 120 snaps. Lockie had specific issues with ball-handling in Oregon’s blowout win over FSU. It’s a small sample size, but Lockie hadn’t done anything to prove he could be a high-level starter.
Adams, meanwhile, showed serious ability in his start against Washington (we don’t have grades for his play against FCS competition). In fact, he recorded the best grade against the Huskies of any quarterback in 2014 — including Marcus Mariota. Considering his supporting cast at Eastern Washington, that’s an impressive feat. Overall, he completed 31 of 44 attempts for 467 yards and a stunning seven touchdowns. Adams completed 8 of 14 for 214 yards and five scores on passes over 20 yards, showing serious ability on deep passes.
Lockie might have been the front-runner heading into the competition, based on his experience with the program, but Adams definitely presents the higher ceiling. Based on the fact that he’s already won the starting job, there is certainly potential for the Ducks offense to again be explosive in 2015, given all of the talented offensive skill-position players he’ll have around him.