vernon adams

Adams, Oregon show off well

Sat, 09/12/2015 - 9:22pm
Cliff Pfenning
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The University of Oregon football program got a pretty good idea of who Vernon Adams, Jr., is as a quarterback under duress Saturday night, and he performed at an uneven level. But, you also got a good idea of his inner drive, and he showed off he's got the will to win.

He certainly didn't perform at the level the UO world may have thought he was going to when he announced his intention to transfer from Eastern Washington in spring, but at the end of Saturday's thrilling game with Michigan State, the Ducks were in position to win. With a couple fewer yards on a lofty pass down the left sideline, Adams may very well have led the No. 7 Ducks past the No. 5 Spartans.

Overall, it was a gritty performance by a veteran playing on the national stage for the first time with the final a frustrating 31-28 on the scoreboard.

Frustrating in that Oregon fans can easily look at the game as that the Ducks didn't win, not so much as the Spartans beat them. Michigan State survived, although that's all that's needed.

Adams showed he's a gamer, able to overcome his shortcomings and keep his team in contention to win.

Oregon's defense did that, too, inspite of giving up 31 points. Oregon's offense should have topped that total in the game, and might have with some better play calling.

Scott Frost's game as offensive coordinator might be the biggest issue from the game in that the plan seemed to go away from what was working in terms of getting passes outside and letting what might easily be the best trio of receivers in the nation make excitement happen. Just simple screen passes. That opened up the middle for running back Royce Freeman, which carried the team to a score on its first possession and seemed like a pathway to many other scores.

But, as much as Adams is working his way into the Oregon playbook, Frost seems to be working his way into understanding Adams in the playbook. That's what a severe lack of preparation will do to a top-flight program like Oregon.

And, inspite of those issues, the Ducks were in position to win a game that might have moved them up to as far as No. 3 or 4 in the nation.

Still, it showed they're a team worthy of consideration of mention as playing its way back to the title game.

That's an easy road with just a dominating performance in Pac-12 play, which they seem capable of doing if Saturday's game is an indication.

 

Reliability is Oregon's question mark

Wed, 08/26/2015 - 8:13am
Cliff Pfenning
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What a difference 12 months has made for the University of Oregon football team and its loyal fanbase.

Last year, Oregon prepped for a run at the national championship fueled by the steady, reliable play of Marcus Mariota, who eventually led the team to the title game and won the Heisman Trophy. That led to him being selected second in the NFL Draft.

A year later, the Ducks feature a free-agent quarterback who already has fans worried about his reliability due to … college classwork (imagine that). Vernon Adams.

What a thrill ride Oregon fans are basically set up for this season.

Maybe we all need that, too.

Oregon football has become somewhat tame, leading to the program signing payday games – for their opponent – in two of the three non-conference slots annually. This week Oregon announced it would play North Dakota State of the second-tier FCS in 2020 at Autzen Stadium. Awesome.

Wouldn't a game against, say, Iowa State be better? North Dakota State beat Iowa State last season, but what really matters there is ISU is from the Big 12. Why does Oregon play teams like North Dakota State, Georgia State, UC Davis, and beyond? To win big and pad stats for its players.

So, maybe Vernon Adams is this season's path to adventure. He gets a game against his former school – Eastern Washington - in his first game at Autzen. Then, off to Michigan State, which is just jonesing for retribution for its loss at Oregon last season, a loss that unhinged its national title hopes.

Adams and the Ducks play at Arizona State and host USC of the Pac-12 South this season as well, so the conference schedule has some sauce.

Adams is a big unknown as the season starts, primarily because he didn't take care of school business as had been promoted in spring. Only in August did he get clearance to actually suit up for the football team after passing a math test.

But, again, that might be good for Oregon fans. The Ducks are rarely an underdog, but Adams has made the season scary by just being an outsider from the Oregon culture. A free-agent. That's becoming quite a thing in college athletics, especially basketball. Now, it is likely to spread to football, potentially keeping programs like North Dakota State from becoming dynasties because their top players might move to programs like Iowa State to improve them and show off their skills to NFL teams.

So, buckle up Oregon fans. It's going to be a … fun season of not relying on reliability that's been established from previous seasons. That didn't actually have such a downside for Ohio State last season, which played the final month with a freshman quarterback who started the season No. 3 on the depth chart. Maybe Oregon will play its way to a national title with a free-agent quarterback who had everyone in the state wondering about his reliability right up until he needed to show off his skills in the classroom and on the field.

 

 

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