- Chantel Jennings, ESPN Staff Writer
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A season ago, Oregon offensive coordinator Scott Frost could've picked the play calls out of a hat and wunderkind Marcus Mariota could've made it work. The quarterback got the Ducks out of sticky situations time and time again and even though teams threw the kitchen sink at him, most of the time everything turned out OK.
This season, it's a bit different. Oregon coaches know there will be a learning curve and that Vernon Adams Jr., who was announced as the Ducks' starter on Friday, will have times when he excels and others when he struggles. The coaches' jobs is to try and maximize the former.
"By Mariota's third year of starting in Oregon's system, he was essentially a coach with a helmet," writes the Oregonian's Tyson Alger. "He had an astute understanding of the playbook and what everyone else should be doing. The trouble with Mariota wasn't his knowledge, but attempting to utilize his vast skills and comprehension without leaving everyone else behind. It's the opposite, now. While coaches commend Adams' ability to learn quick, he's still just two weeks into an offense that's considered to be one of the premier units in the country."
So what does that mean for Frost and company?
"If there's anything the quarterback is not comfortable with that we're trying to put in the game plan, we're going to take it out," Frost told Alger. "So if that means this year there's a few things he's not comfortable with, we'll cut the game plan a little bit and have a little bit shorter playlist."
A shorter playlist isn't anything that Oregon fans shoulder freak out about. Because even with a shorter playlist, there are still several songs to be played and quite a bit of room for improvisation, as Adams has proved he can do very well.
Yes, he earned the starting job in about two weeks. It was no short task, as outlined in this George Schroeder feature. It involved 6:15 a.m. morning study sessions, endless film study and (as passing game coordinator Matt Lubick joked) sleeping with a playbook.
"A couple of days ago Frost teased Adams, telling him, 'You must be a lot better at learning football than you are at math,'" Schroeder wrote.
The reference is not lost on anyone who followed college football this summer as Adams' highly-publicized math exam was a large topic of conversation. Only when it came to Adams' math exams, it was one and done. He passed and could move on. When it comes to football, Adams hopes to take as many exams as possible. Fourteen passed football exams will put the Ducks in the national title game. A 15th passed football exam means Adams and the Ducks will do what Mariota and company couldn't.
"So far, everything that we've decided that we want to try he's been comfortable with," Frost told Alger. "We'll try and limit for him a little, but again, I've been really impressed with how quickly he's grasped everything we're trying to do."
Sounds like he's on track to passing at least exam No. 1.
11hChantel Jennings and Kyle Bonagura