Meet your quarterback: Oregon

August, 29, 2012
8/29/12
1:00
PM ET
There were six quarterback competitions in the Pac-12 this year. Some came about by the departure of some outstanding quarterbacks. Others just needed new life infused into the offense.

Today we're going to take a look at each of the quarterbacks who won their job.

We continue the series with Oregon. The winner of the job takes over one of the most explosive offenses in America. And that person will be Marcus Mariota. The redshirt freshman won the job that many assumed, following Darron Thomas' ill-advised departure for professional football, would go to last year's backup Bryan Bennett. You know what they say about assumptions...

Marcus Mariota, Oregon
  • 2011 stats: N/A
  • Career stats: N/A
  • Pros: From Dennis Dixon to Jeremiah Masoli to Thomas, every quarterback Chip Kelly has touched has worked out near flawlessly. Has he given us any reason in the past to question his decisions? History says this is the right call and Mariota is the perfect fit for what Oregon does on offense. He's a true, dual-threat guy who has a ton of offensive weapons and a good offensive line surrounding him. The schedule also plays to Mariota's favor, as he'll have four straight games at home to get up to speed.
  • Cons: Of course, anytime you start a redshirt freshman, there is going to be the experience factor, or the lack there of in Mariota's case. No matter how much you practice or scrimmage, you never really know what you are going to get until you've seen the player in an actual game and how well he responds to a negative play. Right now, the biggest concern is the unknown. Plus, similar to the situation in Washington State, there are a lot who felt it should be Bennett's job, so you have to wonder how much over-the-shoulder looking Mariota will be doing the first half of the season.
  • How he won the job: It started with his eye-opening performance at the spring game, when he went 18-of-26 for 202 yards with a passing touchdown and five rushes for 99 yards and two scores. Those quarterback numbers are awfully Oregonian. But Kelly said the decision was very "analytical and detailed" and it was decided over the course of 37 practices (15 spring, 22 fall) and there was no one day or "ah ha" moment. But rather a culmination of everything.
  • Coach speak: "He hasn't played in a game, there is nothing we can do to manufacture that," Kelly said. "We do a lot of things in practice and we bring officials in and try to simulate game situations. But his first real-live snap is going to be Saturday night and I'm looking forward to it."
  • Backup plan: You have to imagine Kelly and Co. feel pretty good about having Bennett as a No. 2 option. He appeared in seven games last year, throwing six touchdowns with no interceptions on 24-of-45 passing and averaged 8.7 yards on his 23 carries.

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