The Oregon Ducks struck gold last season when they turned their offense over to freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota. The young signal-caller played with incredible poise and efficiency, earning first-team All-Pac 12 honors and leading the Ducks to a second straight BCS victory. However, his early success had some consequences for the Oregon depth chart, as backup quarterback Bryan Bennett has decided to transfer from Eugene to the Southeastern Louisiana Lions of the Southland Conference at the FCS level.
Bennett will be going into his junior year of eligibility and spent the last two seasons as the Ducks’ primary backup. In 2011, he saw sporadic playing time in behind junior Darron Thomas. When Thomas decided to skip his final year of eligibility, Bennett looked to be in line for the starter’s job. When he lost out to Mariota in fall camp, he considered transferring immediately, but stuck around during the 2012 season as the No. 2 quarterback, once again seeing considerable mop-up duty.
In two years as a backup, Bennett has thrown for 580 yards with nine touchdowns to three interceptions, while rushing for 365 yards and six touchdowns. However, without the prospect of moving into the starter’s job unless the younger Mariota gets hurt, Bennett was pushed to pursue other options. After quietly visiting Southeastern Louisiana over the weekend, Bennett will enroll on Tuesday and be eligible to play right away.
The move comes as a bit of a surprise, since Bennett recently talked about staying in Eugene and making a move to the defensive side of the ball to play outside linebacker. Consistent pressure, however, forced Bennett to reconsider his options and led to the quick move down south to Southeastern Louisiana.
Oregon will feel the pinch on the depth chart, as Bennett proved to be a quality backup to Mariota, ready to jump in and lead the team in a moment’s notice. Without Bennett, the Ducks are left with a pair of redshirt freshmen on the depth chart, but could get some extra insurance if junior college quarterback Tanner McEvoy, currently being recruiting by the Ducks, commits to Oregon.
Bryan Bennett never broke through into the starting lineup, but was a key contributor to the Ducks’ success over the last two seasons. Moving down to the FCS level will finally give Bennett the opportunity to be the man, and Oregon fans will wish him the best of luck in the spotlight.