Jeff Lockie

Oregon QB Vernon Adams will keep playing with a broken finger

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Not too long before Oregon faced off with Michigan State in East Lansing last week a report came out saying quarterback Vernon Adams had an index finger injury. It turns out it is broken, although he may not miss any playing time because of it. That should be a nice relief for Ducks fans.

According to a report this morning from Aaron Fentress of Comcast SportsNet Northwest, the injury was suffered in Oregon’s season opener against Eastern Washington (Adams’ previous school) and it made gripping the football more difficult against the Spartans last week. For now it appears Adams will continue playing through the injury, even if it means losing a bit of touch on the football until the injury heals in the coming weeks.

Against Michigan State, Adams completed 22 of 39 pass attempts for 309 yards and a touchdown. He was intercepted twice. While the injury likely affected his game, nobody at Oregon is using the injury as an excuse. Unless the pain becomes insufferable for Adams or the lack of ball control becomes a significant concern for Oregon’s offense against teams not as defensively strong as Michigan State, there may be no reason to take Adams out of the offense. However, offensive coordinator Scott Frost will have Jeff Lockie prepared to step in should it come to that.

Report: Oregon QB Vernon Adams playing with injured index finger vs. Sparty

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As if facing Michigan State’s defense in East Lansing was not already a difficult enough task for Oregon quarterback Vernon Adams, now it appears he will have to do so while playing with an index finger injury. For a quarterback, of course, this injury is a tad more significant than it may be for most other positions.

A report this morning from ESPN.com this morning says Adams injured his index finger in Oregon’s season opener last week against his former school, Eastern Washington. Adams was banged up at time against his former teammates at Eastern Washington, but the word of an index finger injury is new. For now, the plan is still to have Adams lead the Ducks offense on the road tonight against Michigan State. If Adams is unable to get a grip on the football and his throws, do not be surprised to see Oregon throw Jeff Lockie into the mix.

Adams completed 19 of 25 pass attempts for 246 yards and a pair of touchdowns last week for Oregon. He also rushed for 94 yards on 114 rushing attempts.

Oregon lists EWU transfer Vernon Adams as starting QB

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It didn’t come with a grand proclamation (at least not yet) or a trumpeting of horns, just a line on a depth chart, mixed in with dozens others like it. Yet it is significant all the same: Oregon has listed Vernon Adams as its starting quarterback for the Eastern Washington game next Saturday.

Adams, of course, just arrived from Eastern Washington. As in, two weeks ago.

Oregon announced the addition of the record-setting EWU quarterback as a graduate transfer on Feb. 11, but Adams couldn’t join the Ducks’ roster until he completed his undergraduate coursework. That didn’t happen until Aug. 13.

Adams needed all of two weeks to beat Jeff Lockie out for Oregon’s QB1 job.

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In 37 career games at Eastern Washington, Adams threw for 10,438 yards with 110 touchdowns against only 31 interceptions while adding 1,232 yards and 11 scores on the ground. A 6-foot powder keg of extreme confidence, Adams has a knack for saving his best performances for the biggest of stages. He threw for 425 yards and three touchdowns (with two picks) in a loss to eventual FCS runner-up Illinois State in the FCS playoffs last December, a performance only surpassed by his spotless 475-yard, seven-touchdown effort in a 59-52 loss to Washington in September.

In a game only surpassed by Washington at Boise State in terms of awkward Week 1 reunions, Adams’ first game as Oregon’s quarterback will be against Eastern Washington next Saturday in Eugene.

Adams’ former head coach, Beau Baldwin, spoke out against the graduate transfer rule that allowed Adams to leave and play immediately at Oregon. “It’s not what the rule is intended for,” Baldwin said. “… Ultimately we feel like, you know what, we were also the ones who developed [Adams] from a level where obviously out of high school he wasn’t at that level.”

CFT 2015 Preseason Preview: Six-Pack of Storylines

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Finally, after (nearly) seven long, agonizing months filled with seemingly nothing but arrests, suspensions, transfers, lawsuits and yet another Sharknado, the dawn of a new season is nearly upon us.

In just 17 days, we’ll all be hunkered down in front of the television taking in the glory (?) that is the South Carolina Gamecocks and North Carolina Tar Heels throwing down at a neutral site in Charlotte, and chase that FBS opener down later that night with the return of a certain high-profile coach as Michigan travels to Utah for a significant early test of the new era in Ann Arbor.

In between now and then? Previews. Glorious, illuminating, voluminous previews as far as the eye can see.

We’ll kick off the look at the upcoming season the same way we have the past six years: storylines that you should pay attention to or could be in play in the coming months.

Proceed, and enjoy.

Ohio State Spring Game
The Contenders

WHO’LL ORCHESTRATE OSU’S BUCK-TO-BUCK BID?
The riches Ohio State possesses at the quarterback position borderlines on the embarrassing, so much so that two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year Braxton Miller, still not fully recovered from a second shoulder surgery that knocked him out for all of 2014, has moved to another position as he looks to get on the field in some fashion his senior season.  That leaves regular-season hero J.T. Barrett and postseason whirlwind Cardale Jones to vie for the opportunity to line up under center and guide the Buckeyes’ offense in their attempt to go back-to-back in the College Football Playoff.

It seems that most view Jones, perhaps in part because of his outgoing personality vs. Barrett’s naturally reserved, quiet nature, as the favorite to win the job; the question is, should they?  Or better yet, have they forgotten?

After getting off to a rough start last season in place of Miller — three touchdowns and four interceptions in the first two games, which included the lone loss to Virginia Tech — Barrett bounced back to have a season for the OSU ages, finishing the last 10 games with 31 touchdowns and just six interceptions before going down with a season-ending leg injury in the regular-season finale against Michigan.  His 45 total touchdowns set a Big Ten record, breaking the standard previously held by Purdue’s Drew Brees, and he rushed for nearly 1,000 yards as a redshirt freshman.  And all of that production, people seem to forget as well, came after he beat out Jones in summer camp for the No. 2 spot behind Miller, just prior to the reemergence of the senior’s shoulder issue.

It’s not like Jones is chipped chopped ham, though; in his first three starts, all in the postseason, the rifle-armed 12-Gauge passed for 742 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions as OSU dropped Wisconsin 59-0 in the Big Ten title game and topped No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Oregon in the playoffs.  The fact that Ezekiel Elliott ran for nearly 700 hundreds in those starts certainly didn’t hurt… or was it Jones and his arm’s ability to stretch the field and add another element to the passing attack that Barrett — or most any other quarterback for that matter — couldn’t that opened things up for Eazy-E?

Decisions, decisions, decisions this OSU coaching staff will have to make, decisions that make them the envy of nearly every other coaching staff in the country.  Really, how can they go wrong with whomever they choose?

Jim Harbaugh
Jim Harbaugh

HOW MANY B1G CALLERS AHEAD OF US, JIMMY?
Even considering the once-in-a-lifetime quarterback situation for the defending national champions, there wasn’t a bigger storyline this college football offseason than Jim Harbaugh‘s self-imposed NFL exile ending and his return to this level of the sport — and at his stumbling, struggling alma mater Michigan no less.  The former Stanford head coach had made headlines on a seemingly daily basis since his hiring, from his Twitter posts to forays into baseball to shirts-and-skins to epically awkward interviews to satellite camps to “Attacking this day with Enthusiasm Unknown to Mankind” to just about anything, really, that the coach did.

With the clock ticking down on the start of a new season, though, the attention shifts from Harbaugh, the off-field character, to Harbaugh, the on-field coach.  Or, more precisely, how fast can he get the Wolverines back to national prominence?  To be blunt, Harbaugh’s timing couldn’t have been “worse” divisionally, with hated rival Ohio State at the top of the college football world and poised to be there for years to come with a recruiting cupboard continually restocked on an annual basis with top-shelf talent, and hated in-state rival Michigan State playing — and recruiting — at a level unseen in East Lansing.  Harbaugh & Company are already playing from behind when it comes to those two East rivals, but Harbaugh’s not exactly coming to the fight empty-handed.

For all of the on-field angst that Brady Hoke inspired — after an initial 11-2 record with RichRod-recruited players, UM proceeded to go 8-5/7-6/5-7 — the fired head coach recruited well. In 2013 and 2012, UM’s recruiting classes were ranked fifth and seventh nationally and second in the Big Ten, respectively, according to Rivals.com. Even in 2014, amidst much speculation that Hoke was as good as done, he still pulled in a class that ranked 31st in the country and fourth in the conference.

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Vernon Adams makes the grade, joins the Ducks’ QB flock

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The ongoing story of Vernon Adams and his quest from FCS powerhouse Eastern Washington to College Football Playoff contender Oregon has been thoroughly examined every step of the way. In the latest development we have learned Adams has a math class preventing him from officially being added to the Oregon roster. Now the only thing blocking Adams and a chance to start at Oregon is Jeff Lockie, the backup to Marcus Mariota last season.

Oregon formally announced the addition of Adams to the roster Thursday evening, saying he is now eligible to participate in team activities. He had previously been ruled eligible to enroll in classes at Oregon but still had to meet some academic parameters before being added to the football program. It should not take too long for Adams to get in the swing of things. He is expected to compete for the starting job right away. He has already been added to the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award watch list.

It is not a given Adams will win the starting job in Eugene, but it seems generally accepted he will in fact be the successor to Mariota at Oregon. Adams’ transfer has been one of the most high-profile ones around the country this season, along with Florida State welcoming former Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson to Tallahassee. though some may consider him a bit on the small side, Adams has the kind of skills that should blend well with Oregon’s offense.