The Oregon Ducks are having its most notable quarterback battle in years this offseason, but it appears it may be Anthony Brown‘s job to lose.
Head coach Mario Cristobal said Brown has been taking all the first-team reps so far during spring football with the three freshmen (Ty Thompson, Jay Butterfield, and Robby Ashford) splitting second-team reps.
“Right now with the ones, Anthony [Brown] has taken every rep with the ones so far,” said Cristobal.
Last week, Cristobal said the program’s “excited” about the talent of his quarterback group: “There’s a lot of talent in that room,” he added.
Prior to spring football, the coaching staff met with each position group and told them how reps will be distributed. The distribution of reps will be reevaluated after Saturday’s live play.
With Tuesday being the second week of practice, it’s no shock Brown has seen all the first-team reps.
Last year’s starting quarterback Tyler Shough transferred to Texas Tech and Brown would not have returned for his final season of college eligibility without a good chance to win the starting job.
But, Brown is not guaranteed to start next season. A three-way quarterback competition is expected to commence between Brown, Jay Butterfield, and Ty Thompson. The Boston College transfer did beat out Butterfield on the depth chart last season during the former four-star’s first season on campus.
“He’s the guy that can throw it from the hash, the outside, the opposite numbers, which not many guys can do that.,” Cristobal said last week of Butterfield. “He’s very smart, he’s very accurate, hard worker, another guy that’s tough.”
Fellow freshman Robby Ashford will also be given opportunities to win the job but he has been splitting his time between playing baseball for the school and spring football. He’s likely running fourth in the competition but in Mario Cristobal’s program, anyone can play their way to being on the field. It’s just a matter of earning it.
Another factor to consider is Oregon plays at Ohio State in the second week of next season. The Ducks may not want to have a freshman in his second start go up against one of the nation’s top programs in a road environment, so unless Butterfield/Thompson/Ashford wins the job by far, Brown’s experience will likely be the tie-breaker.
The two-time defending Pac-12 champions will have high expectations heading into next season, especially given last season the Ducks were the youngest team in all of FBS football. Then in December and February, Mario Cristobal signed the best recruiting class in the Pac-12 and the sixth-ranked class nationally.
With a capable quarterback behind center, the Ducks will be the favorites in the Pac-12 with hopes of a college football playoff berth.