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Mariota earns decision over Bennett in Ducks’ QB battle

Marcus Mariota AP

With eight days (!!!) before the start of a new season, Chip Kelly has officially handed over the keys to his high-octane Oregon offense.

As expected, Kelly announced his starter at quarterback Friday afternoon and, somewhat unexpectedly, that starter is Marcus Mariota.  The redshirt freshman beat out redshirt sophomore Bryan Bennett, who was viewed as the favorite entering spring practice.

Bennett served as the backup in 2011 to Darron Thomas, who inexplicably left a year of eligibility on the table in favor of early entry into the 2012 NFL draft.  The fact that Bennett held a decided edge in experience — 46 pass attempts last season as the Ducks’ No. 2 QB vs. none for Mariota — had most labeling him as the prohibitive favorite for the job upon Thomas’ departure.

The play of Mariota throughout the spring — especially in the spring game — and into summer camp, however, left Kelly with almost no choice but to go with the player who was at one point viewed as the dark-horse candidate.

The Ducks will open the 2012 season Sept. 1 at home against Arkansas State.

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4 Responses to “Mariota earns decision over Bennett in Ducks’ QB battle”
  1. papabush88 says: Aug 24, 2012 2:15 PM

    USC fan here.

    This is good for Oregon in the long run. Bennett was a little more experienced in games last year (not just garbage time either) and might have been a smooth transition coming into the season.

    Mariota may be shaky in some games this year as a freshman and first time starter, but in the years to come, this will be great for Oregon. Then again, it seems Kelly’s offense makes it easy for QBs to thrive.

    PC started Barkley as a freshman. And while Barkley’s numbers weren’t GREAT (around 2500 yards 15 TDs to 14 INTs), that year served as a year to get comfortable.

    Looking forward to Nov 3

  2. tttrojan4life says: Aug 24, 2012 2:36 PM

    Why did Darron Thomas inexplicably leave one year early, knowing he would likely go undrafted in the NFL draft?

  3. normtide says: Aug 24, 2012 8:46 PM

    Great question trojan. I would guess some agent talked him up, saying everything he wanted to hear. Who knows, another year at Oregon and that may have been true.

  4. coastalduck says: Aug 25, 2012 4:55 PM

    I’m a little surprised that Bennett wasn’t listed as the number one holder – keep the kid interested and involved. He needs to be mentally into the game.

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