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Willie Taggart’s Starting 11: Justin Herbert, Quarterback

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The Duck head coach is excited about his sophomore QB

NCAA Football: Oregon Spring Game Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Sophomore Justin Herbert will be the Oregon starting quarterback this season for head coach Willie Taggart and company. Following an offseason with a new regime, Taggart wanted to see his QB lead by example over the summer.

We are just 25 days away from Oregon’s first game against Southern Utah on Saturday, September 2 at Autzen Stadium.

If you missed any of my 11-part series projecting the defense, you can find that at ATQ. Now, it’s time for my offensive starter projections for Willie Taggart’s 2017-18 team.

Technically, Marcus Arroyo is the co-offensive coordinator for the Ducks, but the former college QB, Taggart, will handle play-calling duties. Let’s get started:

STARTING QUARTERBACK, JUSTIN HERBERT

Herbert entered the fire last season at its peak against No. 5 Washington in Week 6. He actually didn’t fare too bad in his first collegiate start, compared to the final score. The true freshman completed 21-of-34 passes for 179 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception.

NCAA Football: Oregon Spring Game
The sophomore quarterback has developed as a player during his first college offseason. However, it is his development as a person that has impressed his head coach over the summer. Herbert is seen exchanging a gift with a service man following the 2017 Spring Game at Autzen.
Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

The next week, Eugene’s finest registered his top college performance in Berkeley. The Sheldon High School athlete threw for 258 yards and six scores in the Ducks’ double-overtime loss, 52-49. Nevertheless, a star was born.

Following his six-touchdown performance, Herbert led the Ducks to their first conference win at home in 2017. In fact, it was Oregon’s only home win vs a Pac-12 team last season.

For the season, Herbert completed 162-of-255 pass attempts for 1,936 passing yards. The freshman amassed 19 total touchdowns, including four interceptions. He averaged 7.6 yards per attempt.

After the 2017 Spring Game, Oregon’s head coach wanted to see his quarterback take a leadership role with his teammates over the summer. Herbert added 15 pounds of muscle, alongside a little personality. He’s now ready to lead Taggart’s team.

Here are Taggart’s comments when he addressed the media in spring:

“I’m looking for more than just throwing touchdowns. I’m looking for a guy that can lead this football team. Someone they can rally around. Not just the offensive guys either, defense too. If we can find that guy, that’s who our starting quarterback will be.”

Weeks later quarterback’s Travis Jonsen and Terry Wilson left the program. As we enter Day 7 of Oregon fall camp, Herbert is comfortable with being more vocal this season. His teammates are not only noticing, but they are following his example.

Herbert’s coach has a good idea how the quarterback position is supposed to be played. Therefore, he never lets his gunslinger forget the responsibilities to his team.

“The coaches have done a great job of getting us up to speed,” Herbert stated. “The receivers have put in a lot of effort into the playbook. They really know what they’re doing. The running backs too and the offensive line, as well. It just makes our job easier.”

THE FINAL VERDICT

He didn’t start until the sixth game in 2016-17 but still finished No. 8 in passing yards for the Pac-12. Herbert should nearly double his production this season, starting from the outset. The sophomore will record 3,995 passing yards, including 32 touchdowns and six interceptions. Herbert will run for two scores and a spot on the All-Pac-12 team.

Part 2 of Willie Taggart’s Starting 11 series will continue on Wednesday.

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