Oregon Football
Justin Herbert hands the baton of the offense over to Tyler Shough in the 2019 Rose Bowl (Eugene Johnson)

There are two quarterbacks in the NFL currently who played at the University of Oregon. Both men played spent four years donning Ducks uniforms. One of them is a backup for the Las Vegas Raiders: Marcus Mariota. The other is Justin Herbert: the starter for the Los Angeles Chargers. The latter is taking the league by storm and making a strong case early in the season to become rookie of the year; he’ll most likely end up being rookie of the week for three weeks in a row.  

A lot of questions face surround Oregon heading into their first game against Stanford. Who will be the starting quarterback? How many of the players from the 2020 recruiting class could end up playing as true freshmen? How will the offensive line play out after losing key guys and Penei Sewell opting out? How will the defense perform without Brady Breeze, Jevon Holland, and Thomas Graham?

To further understand and be able to answer these questions, we’ve got to take a look at the roster:

At the quarterback position, the Oregon Ducks are locked and loaded for years to come. They brought in two four-star QBs in the 2020 recruiting class: Jay Butterfield and Robby Ashford. That’s a lot to look forward to, but what about this year. Who will take the reigns? It comes down to a battle between Boston College graduate transfer Anthony Brown and Herbert’s back up last year, Tyler Shough (pronounced Shuck).

The QB battle will be an easy choice for the coaching staff, considering Shough is a redshirt sophomore, and he’s been working with head coach Mario Cristobal and the current players for two years now. Shough measures in at 6’5” 221 pounds and was a 4-star recruit in 2018 out of Chandler, Arizona. He saw some time last year and connected on 12 of his 15 pass attempts, for a total of 144 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions.

There are also two other QB’s on the roster: sophomore Bradley Yaffe and redshirt freshman Cale Millen.

WHO WINS THE JOB: Tyler Shough 

The Oregon Ducks had the number one recruiting class in the Pac-12 and a top-10 class in the nation in 2020. Let’s break it down by position out of the transfers and those that enrolled:

Quarterback:

Both Jay Butterfield and Robby Ashford are incoming freshmen that probably won’t see any game time this year. There’s also Anthony Brown, the transfer from Boston College, who could see the field if the Ducks want to restrict Shough to be preventive of injury or the game is a blowout. There were a total of three that joined the team this year.

Running Back

Three-star prospect Trey Benson enrolled at Oregon. However, with redshirt juniors CJ Verdell and Cyrus Habibi-Likio and junior Travis Dye and a few others that saw limited time last year, it’s not probable that a newcomer would see anytime this year.

Wide Receiver

There are three that joined the team—four-star prospects Kris Hutson and Jaden Navarrette and transfer Devon Williams. The Ducks depth at running back will not be an issue this coming season. The probability that these three play is unlikely, barring an injury.

Linebacker

Linebacker is a position where the Oregon Ducks would be able to use their incoming freshman. With not one but two five-star linebackers in Justin Flowe and Noah Sewell, the ducks have a tremendous amount of talent.

Offensive Line

Without Penei Sewell and many of the guys from last year, a few incoming freshmen could slide right into the first and second strings. There were a total of five guys recruited for the position in 2020.

Defensive Line

There were also five recruited at the position, but none will play in the foreseeable future unless one or two of the stars get hurt. Expect more from Kayvon Thibodeaux (the No.1 defensive recruit in 2019) this season, though.  

Defensive Backs/Safeties

There are four prospects in the 2020 recruiting class for the Ducks. However, with most everyone returning to play this year, except for Breeze and Graham, there may or may not be time on the field for these incoming freshmen. Though, in the past, the Oregon Ducks have been known to substitute often to keep their guys fresh. We could see more than just the starters and second string guys, but Cristobal and defensive coordinator Andy Avalos have slowed that down in past years.

Cristobal and the rest of the coaching staff have their work cut out for them, heading into the season’s first game.

In this shortened season, the Ducks genuinely have a shot at making it to the College Football Playoff. This would be huge for the young squad after winning the Rose Bowl just a season ago. However, things will look different on offense with new offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead. With a new offense, the Oregon Ducks could be more deadly, as with the previous OC, Justin Herbert was not allowed to run.

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