When you lose a Heisman Trophy quarterback like Marcus Mariota, you expect that your offense will no longer score 50 points a game. But then you throw in transfer Vernon Adams and expectations, well, they go right back up rather quickly.
“Yeah, they might be down to 45 (points per game),” CBS college football analyst Randy Cross joked on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “I think Adams, who is basically a second math test from not even being around, (and having) a kid like (Jeff) Lockie – they’ve got some talent there at quarterback. I think what they’ve done there, just generally speaking, it’s put them in good stead for losing a guy like Marcus Mariota.”
Mariota, of course, led the Ducks to the national championship game in the first year of the College Football Playoff last season. Oregon lost to Ohio State, 42-20, but it was still a dream season for the Ducks.
Now they’re hoping that Adams, a transfer from Eastern Washington, can do the same – albeit with a slightly different ending.
“I think their (offensive and defensive) lines are in really good shape,” Cross said. “I look for Adams as a guy that can step right in in that offense and just wreak havoc on people because they’ve got no point of reference. Even if they watch Eastern Washington film, what are they going to compare it to? He dominated with them, and I think he’ll dominate with Oregon, too.”
Interestingly enough, the Ducks host Eastern Washington to begin the season on Sept. 5, before traveling to East Lansing for a tough road game against Michigan State on Sept. 12. The Spartans are expected to contend with Ohio State in the Big Ten this season, and thus, for a playoff spot.
Translation? Adams will be tested early.
With so many studs returning at the skill positions, however, many feel that a player with Adams’ attributes will have Oregon’s typically potent offense clicking on all cylinders – sooner rather than later.
“Yeah, I really think so,” Cross said. “People forget on the defensive side they lost guys like (Arik) Armstead. They won’t struggle quite as much on the defensive side as they will on the offensive side just proving that the gap won’t be there replacing a guy like Mariota. But just from what Chip Kelly left there, what Mark Helfrich has built since then, with Phil Knight’s support – they’re all about high class and high speed. And if you play for the Oregon Ducks, you’re a lot of things, but you start out being fast. I think they’ve got the physical ability to blow a lot of people away.”