Washington St.-Oregon Preview
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) The weekly quarterback mystery is becoming something of a theme for the Oregon Ducks this season.
Oregon wasn’t saying which quarterback – or how many – it plans to play on Saturday afternoon when the Ducks (3-2, 1-1 Pac-12) host Washington State (2-2, 0-1).
Vernon Adams Jr., who was named the starter just prior to the beginning of the season but then broke the index finger on his throwing hand in the opener, sat out last weekend’s 41-24 victory at Colorado.
In his place, the Ducks rotated Jeff Lockie, Adams’ backup who was also Marcus Mariota’s backup last season, and sophomore Taylor Alie, a former walk-on. Neither quarterback had a particularly spectacular outing against the Buffaloes, but the Ducks were able to effectively run the ball for the win.
Earlier in the week, Adams said he didn’t want to play until he could give 100 percent for the Ducks, which seemed to indicate he wasn’t going to be ready to go.
Oregon’s depth chart wasn’t giving anything away, either. Adams, Lockie and Alie were all separated by an ”or” on it. It could also be said that there’s a competitive advantage in not revealing the choice.
”I think we know what is going to happen, and what we’re going to do,” Ducks coach Mark Helfrich told reporters after practice on Thursday. ”But it’s not set in granite right now.”
There were no such ambiguities on the other side. Sophomore Luke Falk threw for 389 yards and two touchdowns last weekend in Washington State’s 34-28 loss to Cal. It was Falk’s third game this season with 300 or more yards.
Some other things to consider when Washington State visits Oregon on Saturday:
PASS DEFENSE: Falk and Washington State coach Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense could pose challenges for Oregon’s pass defense, which has struggled this season. The Cougars rank seventh nationally in passing offense with an average of 369.3 yards a game. Oregon is ranked 114th for passing yards allowed, with an average of 287.2 yards a game.
HONORING UCC: The Ducks offered staff and students of Umpqua Community College free tickets to Saturday’s game. Eight UCC students and a teacher were killed by a gunman at the Roseburg, Oregon, campus last week. President Barack Obama was scheduled to visit the families of the victims in the southern Oregon town on Friday.
ON THE RECEIVING END: Washington State junior Gabe Marks is seeing a lot of action in the Air Raid. He caught 10 passes for 141 yards against the Golden Bears for his second 100-yard game of the season. He is averaging 91 yards receiving this season, and leads the Pac-12 with an average of 8.3 catches per game.
LEACH’S ANALYSIS: Leach, who is known for his blunt assessments, provided this one about his team: ”All this business of somebody’s only started for a year or he’s a young fella. Well, forget that. You’ve got to step up and act like you belong there and play like you belong there. It’s a blessing and a privilege to be able to play early and have the opportunity to do those things. Well, now act like you belong there. Now focus in like you belong there.”
AGAIN WITH THE UNIFORMS: It’s another week, so of course Oregon has different uniforms. The team earlier unveiled a ”theme” uniform: The Oregon Pioneers. The newest look from Nike pays tribute to the state of Oregon, and features an image of explorers Lewis and Clark – along with the Duck – on the helmet. The background fabric of each uniform is unique, with subtle images of a topographic map of the Oregon Trail.