Eight months. Eight long months is the entirety of the football offseason. Only once in that two-thirds of a year do we get a reprieve from the long deprivation--a small sip that reminds us that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. That spring game comes this morning for Oregon, and will serve as the only relief of our thirsts until August 31.
This won't feature the excitement of last year's spring contest--there is no open quarterback job, and few unanswered questions as far as starters go overall. The heretofore unseen player that most fans want to see, RB Thomas Tyner, is still at high school, and won't be around until fall. Heck, its not even a real game, with injuries limiting the Ducks to an offense vs. defense scrimmage, with many controlled situations.
If not for the fact that this will be our only taste of football until the dog days of summer, you could almost say that its not even worth watching, but you know you inevitably will. Without obvious storylines, here are five things I'll be looking for in the spring game:
1. Will somebody run away with the backup quarterback job?
Jake Rodrigues was a highly-touted 4* quarterback coming out of high school. Jeff Lockie was far less touted. Neither have appeared in a game as an Oregon Ducks. Injuries have a way of happening to Oregon quarterbacks. Can somebody impress and give us confidence that we're in good hands if Marcus Mariota needs a spell?
2. Just who is Joe Walker?
There are no early entry freshman on campus right now, and the only newcomer with the squad is the JUCO linebacker. With a bevy on injuries suffered by the linebacking corps this spring, we should have an excellent chance to see just what Mr. Walker is capable of.
3. Can Byron Marshall makes our heads turn?
Oregon fans pretty much have their mind made up that De'Anthony Thomas isn't likely an every down make, and believe that Thomas Tyner is the next Kenjon Barner. Of course, Oregon fans also forget that Marshall was one of the most highly coveted running backs in the country last season. What is he going to do to make them remember?
4. What wrinkles is Mark Helfrich going to throw?
Nobody knows exactly how the offense is going to change under Mark Helfrich, and those questions aren't likely to be answered in one spring game. In fact, Helfrich will likely play things vanilla and close to the vest. That said, any wrinkles are sure to stand out and be overanalyzed by everyone.
5. Who is going to wow us?
A couple of years ago, a freshman by the name of Terrance Mitchell came out of nowhere and dominated the spring game en route to future stardom. Last year, it was Mariota grabbing the quarterback competition by the horns. Who will take this game over, and be the lasting image in the heads of Duck fans until spring?
Game is at 11:00 a.m. Pacific, and will be televised on the Pac-12 Network. Remember, capacity is reduced this season due to construction on the north side of the stadium, and capacity will be considerably less than last year's attendance. So get to the stadium early.