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Oregon Football: Realistic Expectations for QB Vernon Adams in 2015

“Now what?”

That was the question Oregon Ducks head coach Mark Helfrich and his top lieutenants asked themselves when the reality of the 2015 season finally hit them despite the months and months of talk, foreshadowing and declarations.

Marcus Mariota, arguably the best quarterback in school history, Heisman Trophy winner, team leader and all-around great guy was gone.

Now what?

Enter Vernon Adams, a much-discussed transfer from the Eastern Washington Eagles who was named Oregon’s starting signal-caller last week for the team’s opener against…Eastern Washington. As if that storyline wasn’t juicy enough, a former FCS player taking over for the Heisman winner surely adds to the level of intrigue.

Expectations will be high this season for Oregon, a Pacific Northwest powerhouse with a lofty ranking in the polls and designs on capturing another Pac-12 title. With Adams under center, he’ll be frequently compared to his predecessor, but once the games begin, the year becomes about him and not the ghost of number eight.

“The honest truth is Marcus bailed us out of three or four games last year with his play,” offensive coordinator Scott Frost told USA Today’s George Schroeder. “I don’t think with the guys around him the quarterback has to be Superman to make it go, but you never know how the season is gonna go.”

If we peer into our crystal ball, though, what can we expect to see out of Adams?

While he may think of himself as Superman given the swagger he displays on the field at times, asking him to reach and repeat Mariota’s numbers is hard to fathom. Adams is bound to throw more interceptions—Mariota had just 14 in his career and only four last year—and it will be equally tough to match the 10 yards per attempt the veteran had either.

Adams is good, but he is not that good.

A run at a repeat trip to the College Football Playoff can’t be ruled out, however, with the Ducks’ new starter given the talent that has been assembled in green and yellow. A one-loss regular-season campaign can’t be the expectation, as some backsliding needs to be expected after a magical 2014. A tougher schedule, especially in Pac-12 play, will contribute to that as much as anything the team’s signal-caller does.

Still, no matter how prolific any dual-threat quarterback is, his primary job description remains the same: distribute the ball to the team’s playmakers. This is where Adams may have a leg up on Mariota due to the experience around him at the skill positions.

Sophomore Royce Freeman is a fringe Heisman Trophy contender himself. Bralon Addison, the team’s most explosive receiver two years ago, returns to action fully healthy after a devastating knee injury and finds himself as a backup due to the amount of depth the team has at wideout. Charles Nelson proved to be a speedy option in space as a true freshman receiver, and Byron Marshall brings a wealth of experience out of the slot as well.

Throw in tight ends Evan Baylis and Johnny Mundt, a fair amount of experience returning along the offensive line, and there’s a reason why many still believe a championship season is possible in Eugene even if there is some regression when it comes to the play behind center.

Much has been made of Adams’ transition from FCS star to FBS starter, and it’s certainly something to keep an eye on. But don’t discount the fact that he’s got an impressive resume that leads one to believe that it won’t be as big of a jump as going from college to the NFL that some are making things out to be.

At Eastern Washington, all Adams did was put up a 110-to-31 touchdown/interception ratio. Read that line again while parsing out the relevant stat: 110 touchdowns in three seasons. It wasn’t just against overmatched FCS teams either. He beat a then-top 25 team in 2013 by topping Oregon State with 518 yards of total offense. Last year, against a defense that featured three early NFL draft picks, Adams rolled up 475 yards and seven touchdowns in a narrow loss to the Washington Huskies.

The bottom line is that Adams has what fellow quarterback Jeff Lockie did not in the race to replace Mariota: experience being the guy. In the coaches’ eyes, that outweighed any advantage Lockie had when it came to knowing the Ducks’ offense—something that became clear when Adams won the job in just two weeks of fall camp.

It will be difficult for anybody to replicate what Mariota was able to do in Eugene. That’s not Adams’ aim nor should that level of play be the expectation. Given the success in Oregon’s offense that others like Darron Thomas and Dennis Dixon have had, however, it’s not unreasonable to think similar numbers will be there for Adams at the end of the year just as double-digit wins will be.

Whether that translates into FBS accolades or an early, season-defining win in Week 2 over Michigan State won’t be answered until the red contact jersey is ripped off and the snaps start counting for real.

After months of speculation, a minute-by-minute update on a math test and a tight quarterback battle, it’s time for fans, the media and NFL scouts to ponder that same question that Ducks coaches did several months ago.

Now what, Vernon?

You can follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.

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Oregon vs. Eastern Washington Complete Game Preview

The narrative surrounding Oregon’s season-opener is so obvious we barely need to write it.

New starting quarterback Vernon Adams, who transferred this offseason after three successful years at Eastern Washington, will make his Ducks debut against…Eastern Washington.

Every other player will take a back seat to Adams, who faces the dual-pressure gauntlet of replacing Marcus Mariota, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, while also playing a team filled with former friends and teammates who in some ways consider him a traitor.

But, of course, there’s also the macro-storyline of Oregon’s Pac-12 title defense and quest for another trip to the College Football Playoff. Eastern Washington beat Oregon State two years ago and lost a 59-52 shootout against Washington in 2014. It is not afraid of playing a Pac-12 opponent.

Oregon should still beat them thoroughly, but the Eagles won’t crumble to the floor like some typical FCS tomato can. In that way, they’re a useful diagnostic opponent before the Ducks travel to East Lansing for a Week 2 showdown against Michigan State.

Expect this team to learn a lot about itself.

Oregon Football: Depth Chart Analysis, Complete 2015 Preview and Predictions

For the second time in five years, Oregon spent the offseason looking back on a successful campaign but one that came up just short of the ultimate goal: a national championship. The Ducks’ 42-20 loss to Ohio State in the title game in January made for an unsatisfying finish to an otherwise stellar 13-2 season.

But unlike after losing in the final moments to Auburn in the 2011 BCS championship game, the Ducks have to try to move forward with a very different team.

“It’s no secret there is a leadership void that must be filled at Oregon this fall,” Ryan Thornburn of the Eugene Register-Guard wrote, noting the loss of starters on the offensive and defensive line in the secondary and most notably Heisman-winning quarterback Marcus Mariota.

Those departures have put an added emphasis on whether Oregon’s “system” can continue to succeed even when so many significant pieces have changed from one year to the next. The offense has ranked in the top five every year since 2010, and during that span the defense has had 11 players taken in the NFL draft.

These losses, however, could be more significant than in the past.

Nevertheless, Oregon is still highly rated heading into the 2015 season, sitting at fifth in the Amway Coaches Poll and seventh in the Associated Press preseason ranking. The defending Pac-12 champions are also projected to win the North Division again, but conference media members have them losing to USC in the title game in December.

It will be far from a rebuilding year in Eugene, yet it also won’t be one that’s brimming with overconfidence.

Follow along as we take a detailed look at Oregon’s 2015 team:

Oregon Football Calls Police on Pac-12 Network TV Crew for Watching Practice

Police were reportedly called to an Oregon football practice last week after a Pac-12 Network television crew gained access to sight lines of a closed practice field.

Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports reports authorities were summoned after analyst Curtis Conway and other members of the staff were making their way to a production truck. A “standoff” occurred after a security guard asked them to move until police arrived to diffuse the tension.

The report notes the Pac-12 Network is owned by the conference, which makes the situation even more curious. Neither side has commented on the matter.

Of course, Oregon is known for its fast-paced playing style that features numerous different wrinkles to keep opponents off balance. It doesn’t come as much surprise the coaching staff goes to additional lengths to ensure outsiders aren’t allowed to get an early glimpse at those plans.

It’s hard to imagine members of the Pac-12 Network would lead to such a stir, though. The Ducks must be working on something special to become paranoid enough to believe a television crew could pass around key inside information to other teams from a brief look at practice.

Perhaps everybody else will get to see what special gadgets Oregon was working on when it opens the 2015 campaign against Eastern Washington on Sept. 5.

Oregon Fall Camp: Quarterback Travis Jonsen on Progress, Vernon Adams, and Goals

Unlike most athletes in his recruiting class, Oregon Freshman Quarterback Travis Jonsen enrolled on campus early, having graduated early from Servite High School in Anaheim, California. Enabled to enroll early, Jonsen arrived in Eugene in early 2015, ready to make immediate improvements. Although he isn’t viewed as a candidate to start at Quarterback this season, […]

Oregon Fall Camp: Quarterback Travis Jonsen on Progress, Vernon Adams, and Goals – Autzen Zoo – Autzen Zoo – An Oregon Ducks Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and more.

Will the Oregon Ducks Wear These Glow-in-the-Dark Jerseys for the 2015 Season?

The Oregon Ducks might be lighting up the Pac-12 in a new, and literal, way.

The university’s athletics account tweeted a preview of a poster featuring the silhouette of a player suited up in a glow-in-the-dark uniform Monday.

But could it be a tease for actual game-day uniforms?

One can only hope.

There hasn’t been any official comment on the speculation—yet.

But it seems within reason, considering how fellow Nike school Ohio State announced on the same day it’d be offering these glow-in-the-dark kicks to Buckeyes fans:

[Oregon Ducks, Ohio State Buckeyes, h/t College Spun]

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