Welcome to your 2012 Pre-Season Gridiron Boot Camp! Kick-Off is less than 6 weeks away and we’ve got plenty of things to cover before then! Like I mentioned in my last post, part of getting into the game, is getting to know the players and picking a couple of favorites. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be highlighting several of the up coming season’s likely starters. To begin, it’s only fitting to start with the Quarterbacks! I’ve been studying these guys for the last few months and have picked my favorite, which I was going to keep secret until I let the cat out of the bag during my fishduck.com interview. After Oregon’s starting Quarterback, Darron Thomas, left this spring to enter the NFL Draft, we’ve been dying to know who will replace him under center! Read on, listen to the clips and have fun guessing who Coach Kelly will start on September 1, 2012! Trust me, it’s hard to pick a favorite-not a bad problem to have by the way!
#2 Bryan Bennett, Junior, 6’3 199 lbs. Major: Sports Marketing
Bryan Bennett was a top recruit out of Southern California where he was the starting quarterback for three years for Crespi High School. He was known for his speed (he also ran track) and solid arm. Bennett is the only current Duck quarterback with college football experience after playing in several games last year when Darron Thomas was injured, or when the game outcome wasn’t in question. Without going into all the ESPNish details, he did a great job and easily gained the trust of the team…and the fans! If you don’t already know, spring practices have been closed to the media, so little is known about how the quarterbacks are playing, but based on post-practice interviews, we’ve learned a bit. Bennett seems to be looked up to as a confident leader with a strong arm. However, there has been mention by some of the players that he tends to throw the ball too hard. He is apparently working on the mental aspect of the game, slowing things down, so he can be more accurate in his passing. Bennett was the presumed successor to the starting role, given his experience…until this year’s Spring Game….
#8 Marcus Mariota, Sophmore, 6’4 196 lbs. Major: Human Physiology
Marcus Mariota was also a top recruit out of Honolulu, HI. The interesting and impressive story behind this kid is that he only started one year as the quarterback of his high school team (not for lack of talent). Mariota attended St. Louis High, a well-known high school/ football player factory that has produced numerous talented players, including Oregon’s former quarterback, Jeremiah Masoli. Basically, Mariota had to wait his turn and once he did, he earned a lot of praise and a scholarship to the PAC 12 Champion Team. I’m completely amazed and knew he must be outstanding to have caught Oregon’s eye after only starting one year as a high school quarterback! Although Mariota isn’t nearly as experienced as Bennett, he is said to be very smart and fast, able to break away from the defense (as seen in his huge touchdown run in the Spring Game). One thing that has caught my attention is that his teammates have described him having “finesse” when passing the ball-almost sailing the ball to the receivers. I have to think this will be a huge factor in the decision, given the Ducks’ struggles at the Receiver position (more on that later). We already know I’m a big fan, and since the secret’s out, I can finally admit I’m on Team Mariota! For the record though, I won’t be too disappointed if Bennett gets it 🙂
There you have it ladies, fast, proven, confident leader, or fast, smooth Island Finesse. Watch these clips and pick your side of the Mariota/Bennett debate!