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May 12, 2013

Spring back: Quarterback

POST SPRING REVIEW

A few weeks ago, Duck Sports Authority asked for readers opinions about the most interesting position battles heading into Spring camp.

Today, we take your results and begin to discuss the positions in-depth. Starting with the position with the fewest votes we work our way to the position our readers found most interesting.


STORYLINE After backing up Darron Thomas as a redshirt freshman, even garnering one start against Colorado, Bryan Bennett entered the 2012 fall camp in a battle for the starting quarterback position for the Ducks.

It was soon clear, however, that the coaches had made a good decision when they determined that Marcus Mariota had earned the starting role.

Bennett flirted with transferring before the season began, but eventually decided to stay and fight with his team mates. Bennett played well in reserve, but as the season wore on, it became clear that he would not pass Mariota any time soon and was destined to remain the backup.

Bennett toyed with the idea of moving to another position, albeit briefly, before deciding to move on and transfer to Southeastern Louisiana.

WHAT WE LEARNED The most important thing we learned; Marcus Mariota is poised to have an even better season in 2013. After feeling considerably more comfortable, Mariota showed why he was the first team all-conference quarterback in 2012. Clearly his position is safe.

The two backups both saw considerable action on the field and both had their strengths and weaknesses as well.

Jake Rodrigues, who is a shade taller than Jeff Lockie showed off his athleticism advantage on several occasions. Despite the "limited contact" red jersey, Rodriques showed no problem taking off on a zone read as needed. He also showed off the ability to make throws on the run. His ability to make things happen when the play breaks down was impressive.

Jeff Lockie showed exactly what Duck coaches and fans believed were his strengths. He showed tremendous composure in the pocket and the ability to make good decisions with his reads. He was less likely to run the ball, but he showed better accuracy on the throws he did make. Some had wondered if he had the arm strength to make the quick throws to the outside. Lockie showed the ability to make the throw, but no consistently as he occasionally floated a pass.

Rodriques was not as accurate, but showed a rocket for an arm and the ability to go deep down the field as well as make the bullet throw to the outside on the quick hitting pass plays. His added weight in the past year will also help his durability in games.

New head coach Mark Helfrich summed up their performance during the Spring game saying that "they both did some good things and also made some day one mistakes. Both took some solid steps forward."

Asked about his performance after the game, Rodrigues said "Right now, I'm just going to keep working. We'll see come fall if I'm the number two guy."


PRE-SPRING DEPTH CHART PROJECTION

QB: Marcus Mariota, Jake Rodrigues, Jeff Lockie


ANALYSIS: While Mariota is the clear number one quarterback, there is much speculation about who will be the primary backup. While both showed some positives and some negatives during the Spring, the combination of Rodrigues' arm strength and athleticism seemed to propel him ahead of Lockie.

Lockie has the edge in passing accuracy, but some of his passes float. He also lacks the ability of Rodrigues to make positive plays when the pocket begins to break down and did not look as comfortable throwing on the run.

Having interviewed head coach Mark Helfrich and offensive coordinator Scott Frost about both of these outstanding young quarterback's, Duck Sports Authority predicted that Rodrigues would enter spring as the number two quarterback, with it really being a case of Rodrigues as "2A" and Lockie as "2B" at the beginning of camp.

With Spring camp complete, we still believe that Rodrigues will be the number two quarterback come late August.

Stay tuned to Duck Sports Authority for all the developments and competition throughout the summer and fall camp.


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