Making A Case for Oregon Ducks Quarterback Jeff Lockie


The Utah Utes are in Eugene to take on the University of Oregon Ducks tonight (5:30 PT, FOX), in what should be a telling conference opener between two AP Top 25 teams. Oregon responded from its loss to Michigan State with an inconsistent, yet dominant victory over Georgia State; Jeff Lockie started in lieu of Vernon Adams Jr, who missed the game with a broken index finger. Stakes will be higher versus the Utes, and eyes should shift to a situation that could at some point be somewhat of a reality.

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Jeff Lockie

Call me crazy. Lockie made his first start as a Duck in his fourth season with the team, and did quite well. He appeared tentative to put the ball downfield early on, often opting to throw the ball away after missing an opportunity downfield. While this concerned the majority of fans, I found some light in the situation by asking myself this question: What good does it do anyone to risk Lockie’s confidence if he throws an interception on a questionable throw? Head Coach Mark Helfrich hasn’t named a definitive starter yet, and most indications point to Adams Jr. returning to the starting lineup. But what happens if Adams Jr struggles? What happens if the offense isn’t in sync? After Lockie’s performance reassured coaches that he is capable of leading the offense in a game situation, they may not hesitate to make a change during the game if certain circumstances make it necessary.

I’ve been a Lockie guy from the start; I’ve always been a proponent of “Next Man Up,” rather than going out and finding another talent. If “Next Man Up” is really the mantra, regardless of Adams Jr’s level of talent, Lockie is capable of leading this offense. I love Lockie as a leader, as a teammate, and it’s possible that teammates are still more comfortable with him at QB — after all, he was running first team reps for a significant period off time. This situation brings upon some images in my mind of the Tom Brady-Drew Henson situation at Michigan during Brady’s senior year.

Before I go further, Lockie reminds me of Tom Brady; very smooth mechanics, strong leader, teammates love him, and he’s smart.

Vernon Adams is almost identical to Henson in this situation; Stronger arm, faster, quicker reads, but one question arises: Does he know how to win and manage a game?

Henson, a hyped prospect, comes in and basically takes Brady’s job before his senior season, and then Brady proves himself during the games and secures the job. Is a similar situation in the making in Eugene?

Sep 10, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) throws the ball against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of Vernon Adams Jr, and I hope he is able to use this season as his key to make an NFL roster next year. Yet, Lockie waited for his chance, fought hard this offseason for the starting job, lost it, but still came out last weekend and had teammates rally around him to allow to him to play exceptionally well. I thought it spoke a lot of Lockie for him to stay at Oregon, and be an active, public supporter of Adams Jr, while patiently waiting for his opportunity.

It’s clear that Helfrich didn’t officially name a starting quarterback this week because he wants to keep Utah’s coaching staff on its toes — that’s to be expected, as Utah is doing the same. Despite this, you have to wonder, is Jeff Lockie pushing Vernon Adams Jr. for his starting job?

The answer? Utah at Oregon (5:30 PM PT, FOX).