Yesterday, Vernon Adams announced his intentions of transferring to Oregon for the 2015 season. So let's address the question on everyone's mind this morning; is Vernon Adams the 2015 Oregon Ducks starting quarterback?
Probably. While Mark Helfrich and company have been quick to say that no starting spot is guaranteed to any player, Adams seems like the favorite at this point. After three years of starting at Eastern Washington, Adams has the experience edge on all the other QB options Helfrich has at his disposal. So if Adams is indeed the 2015 Oregon quarterback, what should Duck fans expect to see on Saturdays come fall?
Let's go to the tape to break down some areas of Adams' game into three categories: pros, cons, and shrugs (otherwise know as ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ).
Pro: Adams throws one hell of a deep ball
At Eastern Washington, Adams was asked to throw a ton of deep balls. When you watch their offense at work, it's easy to see why the Eagles employ this system - it plays to Adams' strengths to a tee. He is able to consistently put deep balls right on the money without making his receivers break stride. Here's a few examples from Eastern Washington's playoff games this past season.
The first video in this clip is a perfect example of Adams running through his progressions, then delivering a perfect deep ball to his receiver. The touch he is able to put on these passes down the sidelines is impressive. On each of these passes (and more examples that weren't included), Adams always seems to put just the right loft on the ball.
Another aspect of Adams' deep passes that is worth noting is the placement. Every pass down the sidelines is either completed or out of bounds, the defender rarely has a chance to make a play on the ball.
Con: Short pass accuracy
As good as Adams is throwing deep, he can sometimes miss the easy, short passes.
This is the biggest area of concern when it comes to how Adams will adjust to the Oregon system. So many of the basic concepts require the quarterback to be deadly accurate with these types of throws (screens, bubble screens, flat routes, etc.). Adams accuracy on these throws is fine, but it isn't great.
Take that third play in the video for example. This play is a near carbon copy of the look Oregon ran to death against Florida State in the Rose Bowl.
The check down to Evan Baylis running a flats route to the sideline. This look eventually led to the FSU safety cheating up, and the long Darren Carrington touchdown as a result. So while missing these little throws may not seem all that important in the moment, they can have an enormous impact on the game.
Pro: When Adams is given the chance to step into a throw, watch out
Another facet of Adams' game that becomes apparent as you watch Eastern Washington games is how much heat and accuracy Adams puts on a pass when he has the time and space to step into a throw.
Adams is really good at climbing the pocket, planting, and throwing an accurate bullet of a pass 15-25 yards down the middle of the field.
These throws are a crucial part of an Oregon quarterback's arsenal, as these middle crossing routes seem to be the way Helfrich and Frost like to attack zone coverage. The fact that Adams will be able to deliver these strikes to the great Oregon receiving options from day one is fantastic.
Pro: Adams' designed runs
When Adams is given the chance to call take off on a designed run play, look out. While he isn't the quickest runner, he runs with a certain mix of agility and power that make him tough to bring down. At Eastern Washington, most of these designed runs came from quarterback draws, with a handful of read options out of the pistol mixed in as well. Watch this run against Illinois State:
He possesses great vision as a mobile quarterback, and could definitely have some enormous games on the ground in an Oregon jersey.
Shrug ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ) : Adams' outside the pocket
One thing we've gotten pretty used to over the years as Oregon fans is quarterback who can escape the pocket and extend plays. While Adams isn't quite Mariota level at escaping the pocket (very few are), he is pretty darn good. But my problem with him in these situations is his decision making once he is in flight mode. It seems like instincts take over as the pocket collapses and Adams stops reading coverages while he is on the run.
The only time in the above video where Adams makes a good read and delivers a solid throw is at the 1:02 mark, when Adams is executing a designed rollout. Otherwise, he goes into 'gunslinger' mode, making some Brett Favre-ish throws in the process. Sometimes these throws work out, sometimes they don't.
Vernon Adams should be very successful if he is named the starting quarterback of the 2015 Ducks. He has an incredible arm and solid mobility, but the accuracy and decision-making need to improve if he is going to go from pretty good to great. One thing he has working for him is the plethora of playmaking options surrounding him. With the talent Oregon has at the back and receiver positions in 2015, all Adams needs to do is get the ball in their hands and let the Byron Marshalls and the Royce Freemans do all the heavy lifting.
Adams should be a joy to watch, and will assuredly lead to some "no, no, no....YES!" moments for Ducks fans, as well lead to some expletives being yelled at TVs.
(If you need more to read on the new Oregon QB, head on over to Pacific Takes and check out how their scouting report on Adams)