Matt Daddy and I have talked a lot in the podcasts the last couple of weeks about the current status of the depth chart, but haven't written much on the subject. Over the next week or two, we'll rectify that.
Quarterback has been the most talked about position of the offseason, with the battle between Bryan Bennett and Marcus Mariota conjuring images of the Nate Costa/Darron Thomas battle of two seasons ago.
We've saw a bit of Bryan Bennett last season, and we liked what we saw. He was poised in leading Oregon to a comeback win over Arizona State, and was very efficient in games against Colorado and WSU. He has a cannon for an arm, but struggled with accuracy last season, completing only 54% of his passes. However, his reads were generally good, and his TD/INT ratio was 6-0. He is also a much greater run threat than Darron Thomas was, gaining 200 yards on only 23 carries. Most people I've spoken to about Bennett aren't worried about accuracy long term, and the thought is that Bennett's ceiling could provide Jeremiah Masoli's legs, Thomas' reads, and a better arm than either.
As Mariota has never been in a game, we know much less about him. He reportedly has a very similar skillset to Bennett, but I've heard that while mobile, he doesn't have Bennett's wheels. He has one less year of experience in the system, but ran a similar system in high school and is said to be picking things up very quickly.
I wasn't surprised to see a competition for the QB job, as it would be very un-Kelly like to hand Bennett the starting job. However, I also think its quite telling what Rob Moseley said on our podcast last week--that he's being told that Bennett's reps just happen to be coming when guys like Kenjon Barner and DeAnthony Thomas are also on the field. That to me says a lot. Mariota has a chance to win the job, but I think that in order to do so, he going to have to be clearly better than Bennett, a very high standard given what we saw out of Bennett last season. Given that, I would be fairly surprised if Bennett isn't starting against Arkansas State next fall.