Oregon coach Chip Kelly will announce his starting quarterback for the 2012 season Friday, either sophomore Bryan Bennett or redshirt freshman Marcus Mariota. They've competed all offseason for the job left vacant by Ducks great Darron Thomas, who surprisingly declared early for the NFL Draft.
Kelly did not rule out informing the public by way of airplane banner, so keep your eyes to the skies, Duck faithful. You may also be wise to prepare for some sort of Nike thing, as always.
Oregon fans are giving a slight edge to Mariota, presumably thanks in part to his excellent performance during this year's spring game (three total touchdowns, 18 of 26 passing for 202 yards, and 99 yards on the ground) and the promise of his very young career. But based on last year's performances, Bill Connelly points out Bennett's solid job in relief of the injured Thomas:
He averaged 7.2 yards per pass attempt to Thomas' 7.7, and he was incredibly dangerous on the ground. Twenty non-sack carries generated 217 yards. Accuracy is a concern (he completed just 54 percent of his passes last year), and he was sacked at almost a three-times higher rate than Thomas. But there's no denying that he played at a higher freshman level than Thomas did in 2008; there's something to be said for that.
The good news, then, for Oregon is that Kelly isn't being forced to choose between the lesser of two blahs here. He appears to have two very capable quarterbacks well suited to his system, based on all accounts. Entering the winter, some had even speculated that Bennett could beat out the incumbent Thomas for the job, so a come-from-behind victory by Mariota would be impressive indeed.