Following a conference win Saturday night against Cal, Oregon head coach Willie Taggart did not share much information about the status of starting quarterback Justin Herbert, but multiple reports out of Eugene are suggesting Herbert broke his collarbone.
Jen Beyrle of The Oregonian reports via Twitter Herbert broke his collarbone, according to sources.
Oregon has not confirmed that diagnosis at this time. If it is a broken collarbone, the typical recovery time tends to fall between four and eight weeks. At best, Herbert could, in theory, return to the team at the end of Utah for a home game against Utah on Oct. 28. If Herbert cannot return for another eight weeks, Herbert could potentially be back for either the last game of the regular season against Oregon State or the bowl season, supposing Oregon clinches bowl eligibility this season.
Oregon suffered a good amount of injuries in the game, but the quarterback situation is the most notable considering how well Herbert had been playing for the Ducks. Before the injury, Herbert had completed seven of eight passes for 86 yards and a touchdown and run for a seven-yard touchdown. The sophomore quarterback had been impressive in the first quarter of the season with a completion percentage of 68.3, 1,264 passing yards nine touchdown passes to two interceptions and three rushing touchdowns.
Senior Taylor Alie initially saw action backing up the injured Herbert but later in the game Oregon freshman Braxton Burmeister made his season debut, thus burning his redshirt option for the 2017 season. The four-star recruit from California has many Oregon fans excited about his future, and he may be jumping into the mix sooner than expected as a result of Herbert’s injury.
The Oregon Ducks, defending Pac-12 champions and College Football Playoff contender, will wrap up the spring practice schedule today in Autzen Stadium with the annual spring game (with some nice uniforms). Just days after seeing former Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Marcus Mariota be selected with the second overall pick by the Tennessee Titans, the question of who will ultimately replace Mariota in Eugene will be one popular question for head coach Mark Helfrich today. It also will not be likely to be answered definitively, which makes sense.
Earlier this week Helfrich joined his Pac-12 coaching fraternity for a spring conference call with the media. Asked about the quarterback situation, Helfrich said there is no timetable for when a decision will be made.
“I think ideally you are making that decision a week and a half before the first game,” Helfrich said, per The Oregonian. “The way you ramp up and build through fall camp, we are installing and doing different things. You want to put each of them in the best position to compete and play to their strengths. They you have a week and a half to prepare for that first game, that would be an ideal situation.”
The candidates to replace Mariota as Oregon’s next starting quarterback are Jeff Lockie, Taylor Alie, Morgan Mahalak, Travis Jonsen (he changed his name)and Ty Griffin right now, but FCS transfer Vernon Adams from Eastern Washington will join the program later this summer. Lockie and Adams are widely considered to be the top two candidates in the running, and Adams will get his chance to make his case once he arrives this summer.
As is the case at many college football programs in the spring, the quarterback question may have to wait. Lockie could put together by far the best spring performance today, but until Adams gets his chance to prove what he can do, Helfrich is wise to hold off on any decisions until much closer to the start of the season. This will be the first time Helfrich will be charged with naming a starting quarterback as well after taking over the program following Chip Kelly left for the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles, where he is currently attempting to build the Pac-12 All-Stars through the draft and offseason roster moves.
Helfrich inherited Mariota as his starter, so now Helrich gets to choose his quarterback.
With news that Marcus Mariota is entering the 2015 NFL Draft, it is already time to shift ahead to see who will be leading the Oregon offense on the field in 2015. The job of filling the shoes of Mariota will be no easy task, but somebody has to do it. Barring the transfer of a player like Ohio State’s Braxton Miller, there are a couple options to watch during Oregon’s spring practices.
Jeff Lockie appears to be the frontrunner as things stand just by looking at the depth chart for the Ducks. Lockie made a brief appearance on the field in place of Mariota during the College Football Playoff national championship game against Ohio State, after Mariota was taken to the ground by Buckeyes defensive lineman Joey Bosa. Lockie, a former three-star recruit according to Rivals, is currently a redshirt sophomore, and is currently the most veteran of Oregon’s young quarterback stable. Lockie joined the Oregon program in the same recruiting class that landed four-star quarterback Jake Rodrigues to Oregon under former head coach Chip Kelly. Rodriguez eventually landed at San Diego State as things did not work out with the Oregon program. Rodrigue transferred to San Diego State prior to the 2014 season and will be eligible to play this fall.
Oregon’s other quarterbacks on the roster today are all freshmen or redshirt freshmen. Eugene native Taylor Alie and California product Ty Griffin are each redshirt freshmen, but neither are expected to make a serious run for the starting job this spring. Alie held a job as Oregon’s scout team quarterback in 2013. Both entered the same recruiting class as Damion Hobbs, a three-star recruit from Texas that has already transferred to Utah State.
True freshman Morgan Mahalak may have the most potential to replace Mariota in the fall. The former four-star recruit from California did play for Oregon this season but is used to waiting for his opportunity. He did so in high school before excelling to be one of the top passers in California. He was the only quarterback added to the Oregon roster in last year’s recruiting class, and now could be his time. The pro-style quarterback was the 11th-ranked pro-style QB in last year’s class according to Rivals could easily benefit from a strong showing in the spring as head coach Mark Helfrich attempts to settle on his next starting quarterback.Oregon also has four-star quarterback
As the spring opens up, the starting job could come down to Lockie and Mahalak. Oregon also has four-star quarterback Travis Waller lined up for the Class of 2015 (already has signed a letter of intent). As things stand now, there are no other quarterbacks in Oregon’s Class of 2015.