The #RODRIGUES4HEISMAN campaign at Oregon is officially done with the announcement of quarterback Jake Rodrigues' intent to transfer. The redshirt sophomore spent 2013 sitting slightly behind Jeff Lockie on the depth chart, and failed to do anything to take a hold of the QB2 spot in spring practice. With Marcus Mariota back for at least one more season, Lockie doing enough to hold down the backup spot, and Morgan Mahalak coming in in the fall, Rodrigues knew the time to move was now, and didn't hesitate. He's a talented quarterback, and will have two seasons at the FBS level at whatever school he ends up transferring to.
Rodrigues' departure leaves Oregon thinner at the quarterback position, but his transfer actually clears up a lot of uncertainty with the group. There was never going to be a scenario where both Jeff Lockie and Jake Rodrigues stuck around for their full eligibility as Ducks. They were part of the same recruiting class, and it was clear from the moment they stepped on campus that one of them would replace Mariota at quarterback, and one would not. Rodrigues had the misfortune of a major knee injury as a high school senior, which limited his reps in his redshirt season. Lockie got just a bit ahead in terms of practice experience and being up to college-level speed, and stayed just a bit ahead for two years. If it's Lockie that gets hurt as a high school senior, it's probably Lockie that is transferring today. That's how close this competition has been.
The fact that Jeff Lockie is now the undisputed backup quarterback is significant. Had Rodrigues stuck around for this season, the narrative surrounding the backup quarterback spot would focus heavily on jockeying for the leg up on replacing Marcus Mariota when he leaves. The second team reps would be split up, as well as the late-game action. Now, Lockie will have all the second-team action to himself, and that will pay dividends going forward. Lockie will no longer have to worry about trying to keep his job as backup QB, and can instead focus on being ready in case something should happen to Mariota, and preparing for his future role as QB1. With Rodrigues gone from the depth chart, that also means for reps for the new #3 QB, Damion Hobbs, a former 3-star recruit and no slouch at all when it comes to quarterbacking.
If you're worried about the hit the depth chart is getting by this move, consider this: if Marcus Mariota goes down with an injury this year, we're probably fucked as far as a conference title goes. It doesn't matter who is the backup; Mariota is that good, and losing him means the season. Losing both Mariota and Lockie, in a 2007-esque nightmare scenario, would be an absolute mess. That fact doesn't change if it's Rodrigues that is forced into duty, or if it's Hobbs, Taylor Allie, or Morgan Mahalak. If a conference title and a playoff spot is the goal (and it should be), then the third-string quarterback doesn't really matter. A third-string QB can win you a Sun Bowl (see Roper, Justin), but that's about it.
There you have it. Jake Rodrigues, we're sad to see you go, and we wish you nothing but success wherever you end up. But for the Oregon Ducks, life goes on. 2014 is about Marcus Mariota, and the backup role doesn't have a lot of say in the matter. And Jeff Lockie having full command of the second team sets him up better to take the reins in 2015, should Mariota leave after this season. #RODRIGUES4HEISMAN is no more, it's true. But the real hipster Oregon fans have been on the #MAHALAK4HEISMAN train since last April.