Usually when new Oregon players make their Autzen debut, it’s the tempo they have the hardest time adjusting to- at least for the past few years anyway.
So when Vernon Adams Jr. arrived in Eugene a handful of weeks ago, many would have expected him to struggle a bit with keeping Oregon’s blur offense moving. But he didn’t. In fact, there were many times during the first two games that Adams Jr. could be seen clapping his hands in an effort to speed guys up- a promising sign for sure.
With the hurry-up offense seemingly under his belt, I was curious what Adams Jr. would say his biggest adjustment had been during his short time with the Ducks. It turns out his response helps explain what many fans have criticized most about his play thus far.
“The receivers here are really fast. . .and I’ve just got to really pick up on throwing balls on time,” Adams Jr. said last week. “Like I’ve talked about a lot for the past two weeks, under throwing receivers. I need to just pick up throwing the ball on time and be quicker with release.”
Back to the criticism.
It’s been pretty mean at times, something Adams Jr. has acknowledged himself, but has it been fair? Is there a lot of reason for Oregon fans to be concerned? Or, should the bandwagoners hang on just a little longer?
I say hang on.
As a self-proclaimed, GIANT Mariota fan (non-biased sportswriter cover blown), I was bound to be critical of whoever stepped in to fill his shoes. Though my initial observations of Adams Jr. were positive, like most fans, I couldn’t help but compare him to #8. When he couldn’t run as fast as Mariota outside the pocket, I judged. When he threw interceptions, I judged. When he missed a wide open Byron Marshall AND a wide open Bralon Addison in arguably the biggest game of the season, I judged.
I was wrong.
Looking back over Adams Jr.’s first two games as a Duck and knowing what we all know now, it’s absolutely safe to be confident about Oregon’s 2015 season- provided the defense cleans things up. . .a lot. Not only has Adams been playing with a broken index finger on his throwing hand, it turns out that whole “chemistry” thing that Adams Jr.’s didn’t have much time to build may be causing more growing pains than fans would like to see. Despite these factors, Adams has managed to play under incredible pressure, leading the Ducks to one victory at home before a very narrow loss on the road, in a very tough environment. If you ask me, all things considered, Adams Jr. has done a solid job as Mariota’s successor.
With nearly two weeks of chemistry building and finger healing under his belt since his last start, there is still plenty of time for Adams Jr.’s solid job to become great.