Oregon coach Chip Kelly created a bit of a stir yesterday when he replaced starting quarterback Darron Thomas with backup Bryan Bennett after halftime against Washington State.
At the time of the switch, the Ducks led the Cougars only by a score of 15-10 and Thomas, returning for the first time as a starter since injuring his knee against Arizona State, had two interceptions and didn’t quite appear to be himself.
So Kelly quietly made the change. No controversy, just the main goal in mind: get the “W”.
“We just felt Bryan gave us a better chance in the second half,” Kelly said after the game.
It was a good move. The Ducks racked up 21 points on offense on their way to a 43-28 victory. But the UO coaching staff maintains that there’s no quarterback uncertainty in Eugene.
“One hundred percent, it’s Darron Thomas,” offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich said when asked who the starting quarterback would be.
“I don’t have to answer that question. But I know who he is,” Kelly added when asked the same question. “I’ll play 17 quarterbacks if it’s gonna help us win. … We can do this dance all day long if you want.”
Give Kelly credit. When he says “next guy in”, he means it. He doesn’t care whose feelings he hurts, or what whispers arise. You’d have to believe his players fully understand that too, and there can’t be much of a controversy if everyone’s on the same page.
(Tip of the cap: George Schroeder of the Eugene Register-Guard)