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.