EUGENE, Ore. (AP) The search for Marcus Mariota’ replacement has been the No. 1 story for Oregon this spring as Ducks await the arrival of former Eastern Washington star Vernon Adams in June.
On Saturday, Jeff Lockie showed he’s ready to take on all challengers.
The 6-foor-2, 205-pound junior quarterback completed all nine of his passes for 223 yards and three touchdowns in Oregon’s spring game, leading his team to a 35-29 victory in front of a crowd of 35,808 at Autzen Stadium.
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”I can’t complain,” said Lockie, who was Mariota’s backup last season. ”We were getting into the end zone and I was happy with that.”
With Mariota and Adams watching from the sideline, Lockie ran Oregon’s offense with efficiency and tempo, scoring quickly on three of his first four drives.
His first play of the game was a 50-yarder to receiver Byron Marshall off a flea flicker from running back Royce Freeman.
Two plays later, Lockie dumped off a pass to Freeman that the sophomore took nine yards into the end zone for a 7-0 lead.
Lockie’s third pass was a short throw to sophomore receiver Charles Nelson, who evaded a tackler and then outran the defense en route to a 52-yard score and a 14-0 advantage.
Lockie and Nelson hooked up again in the second quarter on 46-yard TD pass to put their team up 28-16.
”I think the spring game is way overblown in terms of its value, or the immediate impression, but yes, Jeff had a great spring,” Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said. ”I thought he did a pretty good today in terms of what he was asked to do.”
In 19 career games, Lockie has completed 29 of 41 passes for 264 yards, one TD and one interception. He entered the spring as one of five quarterbacks on the roster battling to replace Mariota, the Heisman Trophy winner who led the Ducks to a Rose Bowl win against Florida State before a loss to Ohio State in the national championship game last January.
Mariota was selected second overall by the Tennessee Titans on Thursday night in the NFL draft.
Lockie brushed off the idea that the starting job is his to lose when Adams gets on campus. The fifth-year senior transfer is two-time Big Sky Conference offensive player of the year, two-time All-American, and twice a runner-up for the Walter Payton Award, the FCS’s top individual honor.
”We still have a bunch of guys who can play and we’re going to add one more in the fall,” Lockie said. ”I’m just going to go out there and compete the best I can.”
It was a solid all-around day for Nelson, who practiced at cornerback this spring after catching 23 passes for 327 yards and five touchdowns as a freshman last fall.
He had a game-high five catches for 144 yards on Saturday and also recorded the only interception of the game to go with three tackles on defense.
”I just went out with the mindset to show my ability to do both,” Nelson said, who added he would like to also be a two-way player next fall. ”I think everybody would like to do that if they can.”
Junior receiver Bralon Addison also looked sharp, catching four passes for 50 yards and a touchdown. Addison missed all of last season with a knee injury. He also went 3-for-3 passing on Saturday, including a 10-yard TD throw to Darren Carrington in the second quarter.