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Pac-12 Confidential

Bud Withers offers an inside look at the Pac-12 Conference and the national college scene.

August 28, 2012 at 4:04 PM

Does Oregon have a QB problem? Maybe not . . .

Updated, 8:13 p.m. Tuesday — Both the Oregonian and the website DuckTerritory.com are reporting that Bryan Bennett, the Oregon quarterback who lost the starting job to Marcus Mariota, will remain at the UO after a meeting Tuesday with Chip Kelly, the head coach. Earlier in the day, he appeared on the verge of departing and leaving the Ducks shorthanded on the depth chart at the position.

4:04 p.m., Tuesday — Reports out of Oregon today, in both the Oregonian and Eugene Register-Guard, are that Bryan Bennett, the quarterback who lost out in a battle with Marcus Mariota for the starting position, is going to transfer. The R-G reported that Bennett didn’t practice today, and a source told the Oregonian he was telling people goodbye in the parking lot at the UO practice facility.

If that’s true, it might have significant implications for the Ducks.

No inference here that Mariota isn’t a solid, even excellent choice for Oregon. It’s just that the Ducks would now be in serious jeopardy behind him, with two true freshmen backing him up. And remember, Mariota hasn’t taken a college snap yet.

The backups are Jake Rodrigues, a 6-3, 218-pound product of Rocklin, Calif., who took part in spring practice, and 6-2, 195-pound Jeff Lockie of Danville, Calif. There’s also a local product, 6-3 Dustin Haines.

If Bennett leaves, all of a sudden, there would appear to be a lot riding on Mariota’s health. And even with a cushy schedule until November, that doesn’t guarantee that a player stays upright.

Even the issue of play selection could be debated. There was speculation that the Ducks under Mariota would return to a greater reliance on quarterback runs, much as they had when Jeremiah Masoli was there. Does head coach Chip Kelly now pull back a bit on that notion?

Lots of imponderables here — including whether Bennett actually leaves — but they could impact Oregon’s viability as a national-title contender, and obviously, even trim the likelihood the Ducks win the Northern Division, where they’re a heavy favorite.

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