Ducks still looking for starting QB

Helfrich says it's a three-man race

By Steve Gress
The (Corvallis) Gazette-Times

Posted Jul. 28, 2016 at 5:46 PM

It’s a new season for the Oregon football program but the same question is at the forefront as a year ago: Who will start at quarterback?
The Ducks turned to Eastern Washington graduate transfer Vernon Adams to replace Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota last year.
This year, Oregon could once again turn to a graduate transfer from a Football Championships Series team with former Montana State quarterback Dakota Prukop in the mix.
Also in the hunt is Tyler Jonsen, a redshirt freshman, and Terry Wilson, a true freshman who enrolled early and was on campus for spring practice.
“We had a three-man race early in the spring, and that will continue into fall camp,” coach Mark Helfrich said at the Pac-12’s media days a couple weeks back. “This summer is pivotal for those guys as far as developing within our offense and executing at a high level.”
Helfrich said he has no timetable for when he will name a starter.
“It can’t be something where you’re 52.7 percent of the vote and somebody else is — you don’t want those little tiny nuances,” Helfrich said. “You want it to be obvious and glaring and everybody kind of looks at each other and goes, yeah.
“Like last year was a unanimous vote. No question about that. It can’t be fake. It can’t be artificial, staged, any of those type of descriptors. It’s just got to happen. And right now is the time where a lot of that happens for those guys, guys that go to work and re-learn their terminology, or in some guys’ case, learn it for the first time, and then hit the ground running in fall camp.”
Helfrich described the three potential starters as similar and completely different, from what he saw in the spring.
Here’s what he said about each:
• Prukop: “A guy in Dakota that had played a lot of college football, different plays, all those things, but completely inexperienced in our system, and you could see those wheels turning of, OK, we called that red and we called that water or whatever it is. And those gears stuck a few times.”
• Jonsen: “He was there for a year but didn’t — he couldn’t practice. He was physically unable to practice, and so he was there. He knows the terminology, but he hasn’t actually done it, so there was that learning curve.”
• Wilson: “Wilson hopped off the plane and started practice. It was kind of a hit-the-ground-running type of moment for him.”
Regardless of who starts, he will have a plethora of offensive weapons to get the ball to, led by junior running back Royce Freeman.
Freeman was overshadowed by Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey last season but finished with impressive numbers — 283 carries for 1,836 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns as well as 26 receptions for 348 yards and two more scores.
The Ducks are also deep at receiver and tight end.
Oregon also has the luxury that the quarterback doesn’t play as important of a role as in other systems as far as getting the play called and everyone organized.
“How we go about things, we don’t have the look-them-in-the-eye-in-the-huddle moment,” Helfrich said. “We don’t do that. So that’s where you have a guy like Royce or Charles Nelson that can lead the charge in terms of work ethic and practice and how we train, those guys can lead that, and the quarterback doesn’t have to be that guy all the time.
“It can be. With Marcus it was. Last year it wasn’t. A few years before that it wasn’t. It’s just kind of a byproduct of how we do it.”

The Oregon Ducks Football Schedule >>

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