Last spring, the Oregon Ducks were holding an open quarterback competition between the experienced Bryan Bennett and newcomer Marcus Mariota. The younger signal caller of course had a dazzling spring before winning the quarterback job in fall camp as he went on to a breakout campaign in 2012. This spring, the Ducks find themselves in another quarterback competition between a pair of redshirt freshmen for the No. 2 quarterback job. Can Jake Rodrigues win the backup job for next season with a strong spring?
Rodrigues is competing with fellow redshirt freshman Jeff Lockie this spring to see who will back up Mariota next fall. Head coach Mark Helfrich has liked things that he’s seen from both quarterbacks, though he admits that each has had their share of “knucklehead plays.” The pair have been going back and forth all spring long, but will take center stage in Oregon’s spring game next weekend. The stage will be set for one of them to take control of the job and Rodrigues has the playmaking ability to make an impact in the scrimmage.
The young quarterback has excellent athleticism and a gung-ho attitude to do whatever he is asked to help the team win. He suffered a setback last season when he broke his fibula and dislocated his elbow last year, but he is back to 100 percent this spring and has jumped in head first to earn the No. 2 quarterback job. Wide receiver Josh Huff described Rodrigues as a “risk taker” who isn’t afraid to push and make plays.
That fearlessness could make or break Rodrigues’ campaign this spring. Last year, Mariota dazzled coaches and fans with a fantastic performance in the spring game the catapulted him to the top of the quarterback competition. If Rodrigues’ “risks” pay off and he makes a number of big plays during the scrimmage, he could win the job. If the risks turn into turnovers and Rodrigues stalls the offense, then the more conservative Lockie could earn the job.
There are few teams that have used their backup quarterback as much as the Oregon Ducks have. With Bennett now gone, Helfrich must find an inexperienced signal caller to lean on in the event of an injury to Mariota. Who do you think ends up on top in the race to be the No. 2 quarterback in Eugene?