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Question of the Day #3: Oregon's QB Situation

Q: Who should be Oregon's opening day starting QB?

A: Darron Thomas.

Due to Jeremiah Masoli's suspension, Oregon is looking for a starting QB, but isn't scrambling to find one for the time being. Either Darron Thomas or Nate Costa would be viable options, but I'm really liking Darron Thomas over the veteran Nate Costa. Costa is going to be a senior this year and coming off of major knee surgery, he played decently in relief of Masoli. Costa went 20-33 for 197 yards to go with a pick and an interception in 2009, but he also had 16 carries that went for 18 yards.

That's where I think Thomas separates himself. Taking a redshirt due to the depth of the position last season, Thomas comes into this year as a redshirt sophomore with two years of experience running the system already under his belt. Thomas' big coming out party didn't occur in 2009 (obviously), but in 2008 he played fantastically in one of those the-loss-wasn't-really-the-rookie's-fault type of games against Boise State in Autzen. Thomas didn't go all Michael Vick or anything, but he does happen to be a bit of a Dennis Dixon clone. Thomas' ability to scramble and make something happen out of nothing, to go along with his passing talent, would make him seem like the obvious fit here. Not to mention he's got plenty of upside and will probably be the starter in 2011 (it should be noted that Masoli has a redshirt option as a pure senior).

During the spring game last week, both QBs basically played to a draw. Thomas did misfire on an int-touchdown and Costa wound up winning the game, but Thomas did end the game with better stats on his side. It seems as if Chip Kelly is fostering an environment that will promote competition in the best manner possible. Whichever QB wins the job, they'll have the benefit of 10 returning starters on offense (plus the new QB which may as well count as a returning starter) along with 9 guys back on defense. In a nutshell, Oregon will be about a lot more than just the QB situation and the off-field problems surrounding LaMichael James (who will be eligible by Week 2 to face Tennessee). So saying that, it seems as if whichever QB Kelly decides on, they'll be able to challenge for the Pac-10 title.

My choice at this point would be Thomas because of his youth, upside, and dual-threat abilities, but I'm not beholden to selecting Thomas. Costa may be a little gunshy about taking the ball downfield sometimes and in order for Oregon's spread offense to really work, the option game has to be clicking. Darron Thomas I think would best accomplish that considering he's pretty much Dennis Dixon reincarnated! Kelly will more than likely settle for Costa early on and take his bets with seniority versus upside.

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