Ducks begin post-Mariota era with questions, QB competition - KPTV - FOX 12

Ducks begin post-Mariota era with questions, QB competition

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EUGENE, OR (KPTV) -

The post Marcus Mariota era is underway for the Rose Bowl champion Oregon Ducks, but it was about who won't be in the backfield that was the lead storyline at media day Monday.

One of the perks of having a deep roster is the ability to absorb major injuries. The Ducks, ranked fifth nationally, will have to go without Thomas Tyner. The junior tailback out of Aloha High School had potential season-ending shoulder surgery last Friday.

"He is not going to be in fall camp and his availability after that remains to be seen," Mark Helfrich, Oregon Head Coach

Helfrich was rather mum as to speculating when Tyner might return and why it took so long to have surgery on the left shoulder he injured in the middle of last October.

"My advice to a guy like Thomas… or anybody that is going to miss a season, is just stick around as much as you can. Be around the guys, be around your friends and the people that care about you because they are all here," said offensive lineman Tyler Johnstone.

The one-two combo of Tyner and reigning PAC-12 freshman of the year, Royce Freeman, were supposed to be one of the most productive rushing attacks in the country.

"His versatility, I mean, we are out there going back to back helping each other is like a tandem causing havoc on the defense so I mean we are going to miss that," Freeman said.

In addition to highly though of freshman Tony Brooks-James and Taj Griffin, Senior Byron Marshall was the team's leading rusher two years ago before moving to more of a receiver role, so he could also slide back into the backfield.

"That's home you know what I mean? I am embracing my new role as a receiver so it's going to be cool though going back and forth," Marshall said.

This fall will bring a legitimate quarterback battle between Jeff Lockie and Vernon Adams. The transfer from Eastern Washington should join the team later this week. Adams needs to finish up an overdue math class before being allowed to practice. Lockie spent the past three years behind one of the best in Mariota.

"I definitely don't take for granite the stuff I learned over the last three years of just having to compete at this stage and with this kind of attention, kind of learning how to block it out," Lockie said.

No matter who wins the QB job, the PAC-12 North Division favorites have plenty of weapons in their arsenal including the eventual return of injured star receivers.

"I'm just ready to get out there and compete and just be ready to go," said wide receiver Bralon Addison.

Addison missed all of last season with a knee injury. Meanwhile, track star Devon Allen has nearly recovered from blowing out his knee in the Rose Bowl.

"I need to focus on my leg and focus on getting healthy and hopefully that's pretty soon. If it takes another five years then it takes another five years. Hopefully it doesn't," Allen said.

Another unknown: Which side of the ball will Sophomore standout Charles Nelson play on? Can the Swiss Army knife be both a receiver and a defensive back?

"I imagine I can. Can I? I don't know, we'll see," he said.

Fellow wide out Darren Carrington remains left out until further notice. Facing a possible half-season suspension from the NCAA after failing a drug test which caused him to miss the national title game.

The home opener is set for Sept. 5th against Eastern Washington at Autzen Stadium.

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