Canzano: Vernon Adams, the keys to Oregon Ducks space shuttle in your hands – OregonLive.com
Count me among those fascinated by the upside Vernon Adams Jr. poses as the starting quarterback at the University of Oregon.
Yeah, he must be that good.
After just two weeks of auditioning, Adams was named the starter for the season opener against Eastern Washington by his coaches. Jeff Lockie remains the back-up. Even as I remain skeptical of the decision-making ability of a guy who fumbled along too long last summer trying to get himself transfer-eligible, he’s apparently done the work necessary in practice.
Which brings us to today’s larger point: I love Oregon this season.
I love that they have a gifted running back in Royce Freeman. I love that their offensive line is anchored by a coach (Steve Greatwood) who could turn you and four of your closest friends into a formidable blocking unit. I love that defensive coordinator Don Pellum is more comfortable than he was a year ago. I love that the receiving corps feel as dangerous as maybe ever in program history. I love, too, that Oregon plays most of its difficult conference games late on the schedule.
Most of all, I love that the Ducks know exactly who they are. There are no identity questions anywhere in this program. Oregon is Oregon. The Ducks are the Ducks. They’ll do what they do on offense, defense and special teams and after the games, Mark Helfrich will talk about it. No further explanation needed. And it’s why Adams, at the controls on offense, has what amounts to the greatest of responsibilities.
As in — dude, the Space Shuttle is yours. Now, point it toward the Moon and drive.
We’ve seen Adams dismantle a couple of Pac-12 foes while playing at Eastern Washington. He has tremendous upside. And again, I’ll wonder along with you should he suffer early hiccups just how good he could have been this season had he arrived earlier and had more time to study the football. But it was absolutely, without question, the right decision to make him the starter.
By all reports from those who saw practices, Adams is not only the best chance the Ducks have to win on a given day, but the best chance they have to win them all. He is a home-run hitter, and we’re all left hoping that means he doesn’t strike out too much.
Starting Adams against Eastern Washington not only gives him a tune-up before the Sept. 12 showcase at Michigan State, it limits the distractions in the next two weeks. It answers questions that needed to be answered. It puts the debate to rest and affords Adams the opportunity to carry some additional confidence into his season.
The best part is, he must have realized somewhere between the Ducks $68 million football facility and the practice field that at Oregon he isn’t alone. He has talented teammates around him, good coaches, and valuable momentum.
To be successful, he’ll have to make plays. But not all the plays. And if there’s anything that Marcus Mariota’s legacy can teach the man charged with succeeding him, it’s that sometimes victory is won by simply the avoidance of following a small mistake with a bigger one. Simply, no need to force things until they need to be forced.
To Adams, we say, “Good luck.”
To Lockie, we say, “Stay ready. Your time may still come.”
I picked Oregon to win the Pac-12. After the questions that have arisen at USC, don’t know how anyone could pick against the Ducks. And I think either quarterback would be good enough to get them there.
But count me among those fascinated to see where Adams takes this season.