There are position battles in every unit of the Oregon football team this spring, but none more of interest than at quarterback where only redshirt sophomore Bryan Bennett has any playing experience. He'll compete with redshirt freshman and true freshman Jake Rodrigues.
The competition to see who will replace Darron Thomas as starting quarterback for the Ducks will extend beyond the spring into summer and well into training camp. Head coach Chip Kelly said he will not name a starter until the week of the first game.
In 2011, Duck fans saw some of what Bennett brings to the table. He played in seven games, starting at Colorado and finishing the games against
Arizona State and Washington State. He completed 24 of 45 pass attempts with six touchdowns and zero interceptions. As far as Mariota, we're told he is very similar to Bennett.
"Marcus can really throw the ball and he can run," said senior tailback Kenjon Barner. "The same with Bennett. They're two evened out quarterbacks and it's going to be quite the battle, quite the battle."
"They're very similar guys," said offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich. "They're smart. They're both great guys to be around. They're team guys. They can wing it and they can run."
For senior offensive lineman Carson York, it's not only important that both Bennett and Mariota can run the offense, but that they have the linemen's respect.
"What's great about them is, more importantly than being great quarterbacks, they're both great men and great guys," said senior offensive lineman Carson York. "As a lineman especially, those are they guys you want to block for."
However, redshirt freshman wide receiver Devon Blackmon said he can tell the difference between passes thrown by Bennett and Mariota.
"When (Bennett) throws me the ball, I have to get new gloves," said Blackmon. "When Marcus throws me the ball, it's more like it just came (to me), but it's manageable. Marcus has a little bit more touch to it."