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Oregon Finds its Replacement for Marcus Mariota in Transfer Vernon Adams

Oregon Ducks football

Oregon Ducks football

The battle at Oregon to replace quarterback Marcus Mariota was one of the biggest storylines set to unfold in college football’s spring practice, but coach Mark Helfrich found his answer on Monday with the announcement Eastern Washington quarterback Vernon Adams would transfer to Eugene.

Adams has been a prolific quarterback at Eastern Washington for the last three seasons and was a runner-up for the Walter Payton Award (the FCS Heisman) in 2013 and '14.

Here are a couple of things to watch with Adams leaving EWU for Oregon:

He will be Oregon’s starter in 2015:

With Mariota departing, Oregon’s quarterback battle expected to feature Jeff Lockie (41 career pass attempts), Ty Griffin (a Georgia Tech transfer), Taylor Alie (a walk-on) and freshmen Morgan Mahalak and Travis Waller. Adams has the mobility, accuracy, arm strength and skill set to thrive in Oregon’s offense. He’s the best quarterback on the roster.

Stepping up in competition/Previous FBS games:
This is without question the biggest question mark in regards to Adams’ transfer. How will he handle the FCS to FBS move? There’s a small sample size to examine, as Adams has played two FBS opponents at Eastern Washington. In those two contests, Adams combined to throw for 886 yards, 11 touchdowns and completed 54 of 76 throws. Adams also rushed for 107 yards and two touchdowns against Oregon State in 2013.

Adams won’t be around at Oregon in spring practice:
Outside of how he transitions to the FBS level, the biggest concern for Oregon has to be getting Adams acclimated to the offense. The California native won’t arrive until the summer, which limits his time to learn the offense and practice with the supporting cast. Adams should thrive in Oregon’s offense, but it’s likely he gets more comfortable and succeeds even more as the year progresses. While Adams needs time to settle into the offense, there’s a critical non-conference matchup (with potential playoff implications) at Michigan State on Sept. 12.


Oregon is still the (significant) favorite in the North:

Had Oregon went into the season without Adams, it’s likely most preseason predictions would have featured more debate and discussion on the North Division favorite. But now that the Ducks have a potential All-Pac-12 quarterback and dynamic playmaker in place, Oregon has to be the clear favorite in the North. While a non-conference road trip to Michigan State awaits in Week 2, most of the Ducks’ toughest Pac-12 games – at Arizona State, at Stanford and USC – are later in the year.

Adams won’t have to do it alone:

It’s going to take Adams a few games to get comfortable with the offense and playing at a higher level, but Oregon won’t have to ask him to win games on his own. The Ducks have a deep supporting cast, including running backs Royce Freeman and Thomas Tyner, a standout group of receivers, headlined by Devon Allen, Bralon Addison, Byron Marshall and Darren Carrington. The offensive line has a few holes to address, but several players received significant snaps due to injuries in 2014.

Oregon opens its season with…

Eastern Washington. How’s that for a storyline in 2015?

Here’s a look at Adams’ stats at EWU from 2012-14:

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Year

Games

Completions

Attempts

Pass Yds

TDs

INTs

Rush Yds

TDs

2012

12

131

215

1,961

20

8

342

1

2013

15

319

486

4,994

55

15

605

4

2014

10

251

380

3,483

35

8

285

6

I asked two writers that watched Adams during his career at Eastern Washington. What exactly does Adams bring to the table and what should we expect from the senior in 2015?

Kyle Kensing, (@kensing45), University Avenue and BleacherReport.com

"Despite getting zero recruiting interest from Pac-12 schools coming out of Southern California, Vernon Adams has proven he can hang with Pac-12 competition.

He's done so twice, in fact. Last year, he accounted for seven touchdowns total against a Washington defense that was loaded with NFL-level talent. In 2013, he went off for six touchdowns in an upset of Oregon State.

No knock on Eastern Washington, which is one of the premier FCS programs, but imagine what Adams can do to the Pac-12 when he's surrounded by more Pac-12-quality players.

I would imagine that's the outlook Mark Helfrich has in adding Adams for this one season. He's experienced, talented and at EWU, he played a style similar to what will be expected of him at Oregon.

Beau Baldwin is one of the more innovative offensive coaches in the FCS, so Adams should transition smoothly at Oregon.

He can run and does, but he's not a 'running' quarterback. It's more a nice weapon he can unleash if he has to, but Adams thrives more as a passer. He has tremendous arm strength and delivers the ball well on the move. That latter attribute should result in Oregon utilizing the pop pass more in 2015." 

Craig Haley, (@CraigHaley), FCS Executive Director for The Sports Network:

"Vernon Adams is an electric player and has a great chance to succeed at Oregon. He's a dual threat and will have to adjust from the spread to the read option, but he has the right skill set. He's already shown he can dominate Pac-12 competition. Clearly, he was underrecruited by the FBS when he was in high school. It's a huge loss for the FCS level."

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