Photo by Andrew Giesemann
Oregon Football

Preview: Quarterback Position

July 17, 2017

The quarterback position at the University of Oregon has slimmed down from five to three.

First up, Dakota Prukop left after his final year of eligibility; he is now the QB for the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League.

Secondly, two quarterbacks transferred out of the program. The first was red-shirt freshman Terry Wilson who decided to transfer after spring quarter. There were whispers last year after Wilson lost the starting job to classmate Justin Herbert, but he was quick to put those rumors to rest talking about how much he loved it here in Oregon. Wilson must have seen the writing on the walls for the 2017-2018 season when Oregon recruited Braxton Burmeister and teammate Darren Carrington described the QB race as "a good competition between Justin and Travis Jonsen." He will continue his career at Garden City Community College.

Then in June news came out that sophomore Travis Jonsen was also planning on transferring out of the program. Jonsen was touted as Prukop's main competition for the 2016 season but because issues with consistency and other on field issues lost the position. This off-season he was again battling for the starting position with Herbert and seemingly ran into the same problems that he had last season. He will transfer to Riverside City College.

That leaves three quarterbacks on the Oregon roster for the upcoming season.

The first and near certain starter of the group is sophomore Justin Herbert. Justin Herbert's freshman season was a tough one to start on, thrown into the PAC-12 Herbert did better than most predicted he would. He finished the season with 2,097 total yards with 1,936 of those yards coming through the air with 19 touchdowns. The Spring game was a good showing for Herbert as he went 16 for 26 and finished with 326 yards and 3 touchdowns. Burmeister and Jonsen were a combined 8 for 22 with an interception each and no touchdowns. There are a lot of signs that point to Herbert being named the starter for the 2017-18 season. Yet Taggart has not made it official.
Why is that?

There are two main reasons I think Taggart is holding out; he doesn't think Herbert is a leader, he recruited Burmeister and not Herbert. The first possibility might seem strange to some, but Taggart has said on a couple of occasions that once he finds the team's leader, he will make him the starter. Perhaps Taggart doesn't think Herbert, who led the Ducks to a 4-8 season, is a great leader. I'm not saying the season turned out the way it did because of Herbert; I am just raising a point that it is a blemish on an otherwise impressive track record.

The other possibility is that Taggart wants the Ducks to have a certain type of offense and Herbert isn't the QB that the offense needs. Herbert only ran for 161 yards last season showing that he would much rather throw the ball than run it, Taggart recruited incoming freshman Braxton Burmeister who is much more of a dual threat QB.   

Braxton Burmeister was a big recruit for the Ducks in the off-season. He switched from fellow PAC-12 school, University of Arizona, and committed to Oregon. Burmeister, a four-star recruit, was the number three ranked QB out of California and a highly ranked QB nationally. Him committing to Oregon is just another example of the good that Taggart has done for this program in the short amount of time he has been a part of it.

In his senior season, Burmeister recorded 5,931 total yards and 80 touchdowns, 1,470 of those yards and 27 of those touchdowns he scored rushing! Burmeister is a special talent at QB and could be a deadly weapon for the Ducks. He has the skills that Taggart recruited for when he was the head coach down in Florida; being able to throw and run the ball effectively. He also seems to have a close connection with Coach Taggart already as he attributes many good conversations with Taggart as the reason why he switched to Oregon. I am personally very excited to see what Burmeister can accomplish here at Oregon.

The final QB on the roster is red shirt senior Taylor Alie. Alie was one of two quarterbacks that were essentially thrown into the deep end during the 2015-2016 season while Vernon Adams struggled with injuries. He most notably got playing time during the Alamo Bowl after Adams suffered a concussion. Alie isn't really in the race for the starting job at QB and has taken up a different role at Oregon these last two seasons as more of a mentor for the younger quarterbacks.
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