Oregon's 2014 spring practices are fully underway, and thousands of Duck football fans anxiously await any piece of new information about the team, no matter how small. Numerous questions abound, from the shaping of the two-deep, newcomers learning the playbook and acclimating themselves to the Oregon way, and any potential injury scares. That information will be available in a number of places on the Webz, including ATQ. But you don't come to this column for old news about what happened six hours ago. You come to Tako Tuesdays for the real fresh takes, the real hot scoops. You want the spring storylines that are so new, they haven't even happened yet. And I've got them for you. You're welcome.
- The defense will look slightly better than the offense, most of the time. If you've been following the team the past few springs, you'd know that this storyline has shown up, without fail, ever since Chip Kelly took over the program. The answer for this is simple: personnel continuity is more important on offense, and spring practice is rife with players rotating in and out and getting reps in different combination in order for the coaches to feel out what they've got to work with come fall camp. It's easier for the defense to shift guys around like this, as playing lots of guys is something our defense does every time it takes the field. The offense? Not so much. And therefore, the defense is going to look more comfortable out there. This is no reason to panic about an Oregon offense that looks to be perhaps the best ever.
- There won't be any separation in the backup QB race. I know, I'd love for either Jeff Lockie or Jake Rodrigues to step up and assert themselves as the clear QB2, too. I'd love to not have to worry about life after Marcus Mariota, knowing there's another all-world player waiting in the wings. And I'd love to finish this damn _____________ 4 HEISMAN sign, because rooting for Mariota is so passé, and my glitter paints are drying up. But that isn't gonna happen this spring, and it probably won't happen until after Marcus is gone. Lockie and Rodrigues are both talented players who can throw and run, but neither player will make the leap to proven commodity until there are plenty of first-team reps and game action to be had, and those things don't exist until Mariota declares for the draft. And besides, these battles don't get decided with an incumbent under center. Both Mariota and Darron Thomas led Oregon to BCS bowls in their first season as a starter, and they didn't grab the starting job until the spring immediately before. And we aren't that far removed from 2006, where a post-Kellen Clemens world featured Dennis Dixon and Brady Leaf failing to grab the job for themselves, and flailing around in a two-QB system. Even if one QB outplays the other in spring, there is still plenty of time for redemption.
- We aren't gonna learn a damn thing about Don Pellum. Just like we didn't learn a damn thing about Scott Frost last spring. Until we see Pellum's gameplanning in action in the fall, we'll just have to hope that the hire was a sound one.
- Our kicking game will still be a mess. After the departure of Dylan Ausherman, we're either turning to a walk-on punter, or relying on Matt Wogan for every kick we may need. Yuck.
- At least one position group will trick us into thinking they're really good. My bet: the secondary. We'll hear all spring about the new guys and how they're progressing, and we'll feel really good about it. But this unit is still replacing three starters. It'll be a process to get them up to speed.
- At least one position group will trick us into thinking they aren't really good. My bet here: the O-line. The offensive line always looks sloppy in spring camp, with the emphasis on experimentation rather than continuity. If you don't hear standout things from the offensive front, fear not. In Hronnis we trust.
- Marcus Mariota is a god.