During the next few weeks, we’re going to go through Oregon’s roster, position by position, examining what talent was lost to graduation or the NFL and what that leaves the Ducks with in 2014.
We start with the quarterbacks.
Who was lost after the 2013 season: Jake Rodrigues (transfer)
Lost statistics: 50 yards, 1 touchdown, 3-of-6 passing, 1 interception
Statistics of returning players: 3,722 yards, 31 touchdowns, 253-of-399 passing, 5 interceptions
Outlook: As long as Mariota can stay healthy, the Ducks are in a very, very good place with their quarterback play. If all goes to plan, he should be in New York at the end of the regular season as one of the Heisman Trophy finalists.
Where it gets interesting is who would step forward if Mariota gets injured. Rodrigues’ transfer makes it seem as though -- at least in the Rodrigues-Lockie battle -- that Lockie had the upper hand. But that doesn’t necessarily mean Lockie now becomes the go-to No. 2.
Hobbs showed some of his dual-threat weapons in the spring scrimmage, but the local walk-on (Alie) also showed some good potential. And Mahalak -- ranked as the No. 9 QB in the country in the 2014 class -- will enroll this summer. He could push the depth chart order, too.
But, at the end of the day, as long as Mariota is playing and the Ducks find some receivers who will step up and make plays then the quarterback spot is not one to worry about. Mariota was ranked among the top seven in the country last season in several important passing statistics (touchdown-to-interception ratio, first downs per passing attempt, passing yards per attempt), but look for him to jump into the top three in most of those categories this season.
Could we have a Mariota-Jameis Winston Heisman battle on our hands? I for one (and I think I speak for many) wouldn’t be too sad to see that kind of a QB race this season.