According to a report from Duck Territory, Oregon redshirt sophomore quarterback Bryan Bennett will transfer to Southeast Louisiana in order to gain playing time. Bennett competed for the starting quarterback job last summer, but lost out to freshman Marcus Mariota. Bennett stayed at Oregon for the 2012 season, playing a limited role mainly late in games for the Ducks.
Early in the season, Bennett was used in an offensive package with tight end Colt Lyerla in the backfield that proved to be fairly successful. As conference play began though, Bennett’s role in the Oregon offense shrunk.
In his two seasons at Oregon, Bennett threw for 580 yards, 9 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Bennett also ran for 365 yards and 6 touchdowns. In 2012, Bennett appeared in 10 games, and threw for 211 yards and 3 touchdowns, while rushing for 165 yards and 6 touchdowns. In his 10 games this season, Bennett attempted more than 10 passes just once, in the season opener against Arkansas State, completing 10 of 17 passes for 108 yards and 1 touchdown. The last time Bennett attempted a pass was on November 10th against California.
According to reports, Bennett visited Southeast Louisiana over the weekend, and will enroll in classes on Tuesday. Because Southeast Louisiana is an FCS school, Bennett will be eligible to play immediately. Had he transferred to an FBS school, Bennett would have had to sit out the 2013 season.
The decision probably won’t come as a shock to many. With Mariota’s outstanding season, it became clear by the end of the year that if Bennett ever wanted to be a starting quarterback, he would have to do so at another program. In similar fashion to Chip Kelly‘s departure, Bennett went through a change of heart in a short time. According to this tweet from Comcast SportsNet Northwest, just last week, Bennett was intent on remaining at Oregon.
Bryan Bennett told @JordanWhitley last week: It's official that I'm staying. My heart is with this team and with us competing to be the best— NBC Sports Northwest (@NBCSNorthwest) January 22, 2013
Just two days before Kelly left for Philadelphia, Bennett said that his heart was with the Ducks. As we’ve learned at Oregon in this past week, a change of heart seems to be quite common.
It seemed during the early parts of the season that Kelly had found a solution to the seemingly impossible task of keeping a backup quarterback happy. When the Ducks were leading big, Kelly would send Bennett into the game here and there, and it seemed as if Bennett had finally found his role in the offense. As the year went on though, the role became smaller and smaller with each game. It is possible that his frustrations with such a limited role started to build as the season progressed.
With Bennett now gone, the Ducks are left with a pair of redshirt freshmen, Jake Rodrigues and Jeff Lockie, to back up Mariota. Rodrigues, a 4-star recruit out of high school and the number 5 quarterback recruit from the class of 2012, will likely be Mariota’s backup in 2013.