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Oregon Football

Fall Camp Preview: Quarterbacks

September 28, 2020
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Oregon football begins fall practice next week, and that means it’s time to take a deeper look at the position groups. Quarterbacks are always the talk of the town, so it's a great place to start.

Oregon, of course, will be without Justin Herbert for the first time in 4 years. But they have a couple of guys who appear to be ready to fill his shoes.

This position group has improved so much under Mario Cristobal. There’s so much talent, and different guys who can offer different things.

Tyler Shough (12), redshirt sophomore

The 6-5, 220-pounder seemed the obvious choice to take over the starting job during spring football. But the addition of Boston College grad transfer Anthony Brown has some fans wondering who we will take the season's first snap.

While Brown certainly brings his own strengths, this is still Shough’s job. Shough has been with the team for two full seasons and seems ready to fully embrace his leadership role. Coaches have raved about Shough's work ethic and how he grinds in the film room.

What fans haven't seen from Shough is much game time. For his career, he is 12 for 15 with 144 yards and 3 touchdowns. Those numbers are great, but the sample size is too small – and all in garbage time.

Still and all, this guy is a BALLER. I’ve had the chance to watch Shough in practice, and he seems to have really elevated his game since arriving in Oregon.

For starters, he’s really filled out into his frame; he has the size to not get knocked over by swiping arms. While he doesn’t have blazing speed, he can beat guys to the edge and keep plays alive in the pocket.

And this man can sling the football. Shough has a smooth throwing motion and seems really comfortable making throws from inside or outside the pocket.

I’m rolling with Shough as the man taking Oregon’s first snap.

Anthony Brown (13), senior

The 6-2, 220-pounder joined the quarterback room in April, and instantly article after article asked about whether Brown was going to start. Slow your roll.

It's true, Brown is incredibly talented. He has a wealth of Power 5 experience and brings some different skills to the table.

In his three years on Chestnut Hill, he completed 54.9 percent of his passes for 4,738 yards, with 40 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. He also has 129 rushing attempts for 423 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Brown’s numbers improved steadily from year to year, but he was injury prone and played only six games in 2019.

Which begs the question: Is Brown going to continue to his pattern of annual improvement? Of course there’s no guarantee, but obviously Mario Cristobal and staff brought him here for a reason.

No one else in the quarterback room has started a college game, and Brown is a guy who has done it for three seasons. He’s also an intriguing prospect in a Joe Moorhead offense that teased two great seasons at Penn State out of Trace McSorley, an athletic quarterback who simply wasn’t much of a passer.

Brown not only supplies the veteran leadership this group needs, but he could add a wrinkle to the revamped Oregon offense.

Cale Millen (17), redshirt freshman

The 6-3, 211-pound signal caller is tough to place on the depth chart.

Millen came to Eugene with some nice traits, but his game was incomplete. I was incredibly excited to watch him last season in camp, but due to an injury he was never much of a factor.

In the limited spring sessions I watched, Millen typically ran behind Shough and sophomore walk-on Bradley Yaffe. He would make some impressive throws, but inconsistency held him back.

I think Millen is going to need another year to continue to learn and get more practice reps. He will absolutely be in the mix for this job, though, once Shough either leaves for the NFL or graduates.

Jay Butterfield (9), freshman

The 6-6, 212-pounder was highly touted out of high school, and you saw that promise the minute he took the practice field. He has a great frame that still has room to fill out. Similar to Herbert, he has great height but is a little bit on the lean side.

Butterfield was pretty impressive in spring, displaying a great natural throwing motion and showing great touch on a variety of passes. Like Millen, however, he lacked consistency.

Butterfield probably won’t see the field this year, but after a year or two in this strength and conditioning program – look out. Definitely a pocket passer, he's quick enough to move around in the pocket and evade pressure, which is absolutely crucial.

Butterfield will have the chance to learn the Moorhead offense and continue to grow as a quarterback. It wouldn’t shock me if he becomes The Guy at some point.

Robby Ashford (6), freshman

The 6-4, 219-pounder out of Alabama is another interesting prospect. Recruited as a dual threat, Ashford's ability to make explosive plays jumps off his high school tape.

Despite his big arm and impressive highlights, Ashford has a long way to go to become a seasoned quarterback. However, he has all of the tools, and it’s great to have guys with his skill set join the program – especially with little to no pressure to make an immediate impact.

Having the chance to learn from guys like Shough and Brown will be huge. Ashford is still a few years away, but the upside is scary.

I can’t wait to watch him in camp.

Tags: Football, Oregon
 
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