Who Will Be QB 1?

If a young boy has a shred of interest in playing football, his dream is to someday be the star quarterback. Linemen win football games, but the quarterback gets most of the credit. Fans don't talk much about an off-season battle at punter or right guard but they do talk about who will be the starting QB.

True to form Oregon fans far and wide are discussing at length the pros and cons of Nate Costa vs. Darron Thomas, or Darron Thomas vs. Nate Costa depending on whom you're pulling for. The pressure fans put on themselves about this topic is intense so you can only imagine what two young men who think age 30 is far away are going through.

There is some relief for fans because of Head Coach Chip Kelly's position on starting and sticking with one QB, even through thick or thin. I've always been more into the way former Oregon head coach Mike Bellotti dealt with the situation. If you have two players with their own set of strengths and little experience you see what they can do when it counts and which one is progressing faster. For all of those hoping that Coach Kelly caves in to the fans even a little, it's not going to happen.

"I don't believe in playing two quarterbacks," Kelly said at the Pac-10 Media Day. "I believe if you've got a two-quarterback system that means you don't really have a quarterback."

So, if your personal favorite doesn't trot out there with the first team offense on September 4th against the Lobos, sorry.

What will be the basis Coach Kelly uses to make his decision?

Darron Thomas easily passes the eye ball test, but there is much more to it than that. If it's experience this is sort of a wash. Both of the signal callers have been involved in the program long enough to learn everything they need to mentally, and physically be the starter. Game experience is limited and sporadic for both players. Nate Costa had some mop up duty as a true freshman, spent the next two seasons battling ACL surgeries, then started one game last season. Darron Thomas made a valiant comeback attempt against Boise State as a true freshman, and had some other spots of mop up duty. Last season he red-shirted. To make things even more complicated both quarterbacks looked great in the spring game, but did it in very different ways. Frankly, it is hard to put much stock in an inter-squad scrimmage.

If leadership is a major priority, then Costa likely gets the nod entering his fifth season.

Naturally the younger players always look to the older players for guidance. Arm strength has to be somewhat of a factor and Thomas has no shortage of that. Durability has been a major issue for the men under center in Eugene since the 2005 season. Looking back there hasn't been a quarterback to start every game for the Ducks since Kellen Clemens in 2004. How confident can anyone be when the offensive leader goes running around the edge with his third ACL replacement? Everyone has their own checklist for what they want in a QB, even if they've never played or coached a down of football in their life. I say go with the guy that can do things athletically that the other guys can't.

No matter what Coach Kelly decides, he'll be a hero to some and a villain to others. What matters though are the results. It always hurts to lose an experienced starter at the quarterback position, but with the mass of returning players from the two-deep there is no excuse to have anything other than a great season.

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