When Mark Helfrich took the podium last Friday at the Pac-12 Media Day, he made it clear he would only address questions about players currently on the roster and for the quarterback position that meant he would only talk about Jeff Lockie.
Lockie is the junior that for most of his career at Oregon wore the headsets and only once in 2014 did he come in the game in a meaningful way when Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota was not available. That was in the National Championship game against Ohio State for only one play. Other than that, Lockie found himself taking snaps during clean up time, after Mariota had led the Ducks to big point margins over the opposition.
For the year Lockie threw just 28 passes, completing 21 for a total of 207 yards with a long of 28 and one touchdown; all in 10 games.
Last April’s spring game was Lockie’s best outing as a Duck in which he was perfect on nine pass attempts for 223 yards and three TDs. Not a bad outing, but the opposing defense wasn’t allowed to tackle him. His performance was noteworthy, yet the Oregon coaching staff wasn’t quite ready to name Lockie the starter for fall camp.
“Jeff had an unbelievably efficient spring, and the times he wasn't efficient, it was just that, trying to do a little bit too much or create something that wasn't there,” Helfrich said of Lockie’s play last April.
After the Ducks lost to Ohio State in January and Mariota said goodbye to Eugene, the Ducks realized if they were going to continue what they started when Chip Kelly was the coach five years ago, they needed to have a solid foundation at quarterback. Lockie had always been a solid player but is he the guy that will carry them back to the Championship game?
When asked to compare Lockie to previous quarterbacks, Helfrich compared him to a couple of a pretty good players, though not guys who would compete in the NFL.
“He's kind of Darron Thomas-ish,” remarked Helfrich, in comparing Lockie with former Ducks. “Nate Costa, he's probably a little faster than Nate. Nate's going to be mad that I said that; but probably in that realm.”
Thomas of course led the Ducks to the BCS Championship game in January 2011 against Auburn. The Ducks went 12-0 that season before losing to the Tigers 22-19 literally on the last second field goal. The next year, Thomas was at the helm again and Oregon finished the year 12-2 including the 45-38 win over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl.
Thomas left Oregon the following year hoping to land on an NFL roster, but as of yet has only played in the Arena Football League.
Costa was a promising quarterback coming out of high school known for his passing accuracy. Injuries derailed his development and while he was only 50-of-71 passing in his four years of playing, he was best known as the holder on special teams. Costa is now a graduate assistant at Oregon working with the offensive coordinator, Scott Frost.
In February of 2015, rumors started circulating that Adams was interested in transferring to Oregon by taking advantage of the NCAA rule that allows graduated seniors to transfer to attend graduate school. Adams has been accepted into Oregon’s School of Business, but has to obtain his degree from Eastern Washington in order to meet the grad school requirement of holding a Bachelor’s Degree.
Adams starred at Eastern Washington for three years, amassing 10,438 yards, 110 touchdowns with a 64.8 percent completion rate. By comparison, Mariota threw for 10,796 yards and 105 TDs and 66.5 completion rate in his three years as a starter at Oregon.
Adams is currently enrolled in the University of Oregon’s Community Education Program (CEP) which allows anyone to attend UO course without formal admittance. The University’s official webpage lists Adams as a non-admitted undergraduate enrolled in the CEP.
There are indications that Adams might be taking a course that would satisfy EWU’s requirement for degree and subsequently he would be able to enroll in grad school and join the team.
Adams told the Eugene Register-Guard that he expects to join the team a few days after fall practice starts on Aug. 10.
Halfway through Oregon’s portion of Media Day, a reporter tried to slip a question in by asking, “You have a guy you want to be your team leader or starting quarterback, what's it say about him that he hasn't taken care of business yet?”
Helfrich’s response was to the point, “I have no comment on that. I have no idea.”
For Helfrich’s part though, he says he has “total confidence” in Lockie, but also made it clear that while he is in constant communication with Lockie, every player on the Oregon roster knows each position is up for competition every day.
“We need a guy to be a great practice player, great leader and score the football,” said Helfrich of what the Ducks want in a starting quarterback. That's what we need.”
While not directly talking about Adams, it is clear that both Adams and Lockie will have a shot at being the starter, but the headman will be as anxious as anyone to see who is at practice a couple of days after fall camp starts.