Last year rumors swirled over quarterback Bryan Bennett reportedly wanting out of Eugene, Oregon. Turns out it was just that—a rumor.
But Duck Territory is reporting on Tuesday that Bennett took a tour of Southeastern Louisiana's campus over the long weekend and will enroll on Tuesday. Since Southeastern Louisiana is an FCS school, Bennett will not have to sit out a year and can play this fall if he meets all eligibility requirements.
So where does this leave the Ducks?
Oregon has two reserve quarterbacks in freshmen Jeff Lockie and Jake Rodrigues—both are from California and both have made no appearances—and that's about it.
Oregon looks a tad thin at quarterback, but that could really only become an issue if new head coach Mark Helfrich changes the current offensive schemes. Both Lockie and Rodrigues have had a season to digest Chip Kelly's playbook so any change would be detrimental to the young quarterbacks.
But Helfrich seems intent on maintaining that same fast and furious offensive attack. At a press conference announcing his new position as head coach at Oregon, Helfrich reportedly said he would keep “99.2%” of the team's current philosophies.
Why mess with perfection?
Oregon has a prolific rushing attack, and because of that, the passing game stays open. Despite the inexperience of the reserves, the system that Chip Kelly put in place doesn't necessarily require a dual threat quarterback to run the offense, according to a Comcast report.
In the interview, Kelly addressed some misconceptions about his offense: "We’ve run zone-read concepts, man-read concepts, where it’s a mathematical game. If there is an extra defender in the box, your quarterback can read him and by controlling him and reading him he is basically blocking him.”
In essence, the offense revolves around a quarterback's reactions to what's in front of him. Get him to understand how to read defenses, and he can take advantage of a mismatch or gap in the zones. But of course, having a quarterback with wheels makes the offense that much more fun.
According to Scout.com, Rodrigues appears to be another prototype Duck quarterback: "The best dual-threat quarterback in the West, Rodrigues is just as dangerous running the ball as he is throwing."
Lockie can play both under center and from the shotgun, according to ESPN and "is a good ball handler in the play-action passing game."
Oregon has had injury problems with its quarterbacks, but with Bennett on the bench, the Ducks at least had an experienced backup. Without Bennett, the offense could see a more diluted version of the current offense if Mariota goes down with an injury.
Bryan Bennett's athletic ability will no doubt be missed—he should have a great year at Southeastern Louisiana—but only if Mariota gets hurt. And let's not forget that while the quarterback reserve situation at Oregon looks a little scary, didn't the Ducks have an up-in-the-air quarterback situation last season?
Remember, Mariota was battling for the starting quarterback spot last spring and came out of nowhere to rack up 2,677 passing yards, 32 touchdowns, six interceptions and a 163.2 passer rating in 2012.
As a freshman.
As long as Mariota stays healthy, the Ducks will be set for the next few years. But we'll know a lot more this spring.