This time last year, the talk of the Spring Game was the starting quarterback battle between Marcus Mariota and former Oregon Duck QB Bryan Bennett. But this year’s buzz is all about who is going to back up Mariota.
The battle is between red-shirt freshmen Jake Rodrigues and Jeff Lockie.
Rodrigues stands at 6-foot 3-inches, weighing in at just over 215 pounds and is the prototypical dual-threat quarterback that Oregon likes. He had an illustrious high school career compiling over 2,700 total yards and 41 total touchdowns in his senior season.
What drew the Ducks to Rodrigues was his junior season where he threw for 2,039 yards and 21 touchdowns, while also rushing for 1,300 yards and 22 touchdowns. His running gives him the huge advantage in this battle, and Rodrigues’ ability to run and throw makes him a dynamic quarterback that the Ducks would love to have behind Mariota.
Lockie is a 6-foot 2-inch, 195-pound pocket passer that threw for over 5,700 yards and 57 touchdowns in his two years as a starter in Danville, Calif. The arising issue is that in his two years starting, he only ran for 346 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. In previous seasons, the Ducks haven’t had a starting quarterback rush for less than 300 yards a season.
It is interesting that Lockie, more of a thrower, chose Oregon over any of the other schools that recruited him. From their styles of play, Lockie doesn’t hold as much of an advantage as Rodrigues.
Heading into Saturday’s Spring Game, it’s obvious to me that Rodrigues has the upper hand to be the backup to Mariota. Rodrigues fits the scheme that the Ducks run, and with his ability to run and throw he will complement Mariota perfectly—the same way that Bennett did last season.
Going into the Spring Game, it is easy to conclude that the back up quarterback position is Rodrigues’s to lose.