EUGENE — By now, everyone has heard about Vernon Adams Jr.’s upside. 

After all, it is what led the fifth-year senior transfer to victory in his quarterback battle over fourth-year junior Jeff Lockie. 

It was determined on Friday that Adams would take the reins of Oregon’s offense, a somewhat of an incredible accomplishment considering that Adams, who transferred in August from Eastern Washington, had only been with the program for two weeks. 

But now, as those very same Eastern Washington Eagles prepare to visit Eugene on Saturday for the Ducks home opener, exactly how much of the playbook is open to Adams? 

It varies. 

“If there’s anything the quarterback is not comfortable with that we’re trying to put in the game plan, we’re going to take it out,” Oregon offensive coordinator Scott Frost said. “So if that means this year there’s a few things he’s not comfortable with, we’ll cut the game plan a little bit and have a little bit shorter playlist.” 

It’s a stark contrast from where the Ducks were at a year ago with Marcus Mariota, though that would be true no matter who the Ducks trotted out there on Saturday. By Mariota’s third year of starting in Oregon’s system, he was essentially a coach with a helmet. He had an astute understanding of the playbook and what everyone else should be doing. The trouble with Mariota wasn’t his knowledge, but attempting to utilize his vast skills and comprehension without leaving everyone else behind. 

It’s the opposite, now. While coaches commend Adams’ ability to learn quick, he’s still just two weeks into an offense that’s considered to be one of the premier units in the country. But if the Ducks needed just an Xs and Os guy, Lockie would be their man. Instead, it will be Adams, who thew for more than 10,000 yards and 100 touchdowns over the last three seasons for Eastern, a player who the Ducks hope, like Mariota, can change a game with his playmaking ability. 

And limiting the playbook isn’t a huge concern. Even if it is paired down, Adams has shown coaches an ability to process information fast enough on the field that they’ll have room to grow. 

“So far, everything that we’ve decided that we want to try he’s been comfortable with,” Frost said. “We’ll try and limit for him a little, but again, I’ve been really impressed with how quickly he’s grasped everything we’re trying to do.” 

That doesn’t mean Frost won’t a little bit nervous on Saturday. While Adams is a veteran of college football with three years of starts under his belt, it will be his first start as a Pac-12 quarterback. And though Frost and the rest of the coaches are confident in their choice of starting quarterback, it’s still a different game when the team across the line of scrimmage is finally wearing different colors. 

“Anytime you have a new quarterback, you’re going to be a little anxious about putting them out there and watching them go on their own, especially when you’re not standing behind them like you have been all of training camp,” Frost said. “But I think these guys are ready to go do it on their own and go out and play well.” 

— Tyson Alger
talger@oregonian.com
@tysonalger

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