NCAA Football

Oregon Football Analysis: Hawkins or Bennett

| by Dwight Jaynes

I know that there’s some public hand-wringing over Oregon’s performance Saturday afternoon against Washington. I mean, the Ducks were actually held scoreless in the first quarter!

But come on, they scored 53 points over the final three quarters and managed to out-first down the Huskies 31-14, outgain them on the ground 279-136 and in the air 243-127. They even had a 35-second edge in time of possession, of all things.

Sailing through 12 games without any problems is virtually impossible for a college football team. Yes, they made some mistakes. Would you expect them to be flawless all the time?

I understand that when you bring polls into settling national championships that there is the burden of looking good every week. Winning is not enough. I get that. But winning 53-16 over a long-time rival is plenty good enough.

Man, the Oregon return teams were terrific and after a slow start, it was a pretty good day for the Ducks. And I see no reason to throw cold water in anyone’s face.

The only down side of this day was the injury to Nate Costa. A solid backup quarterback is a must in an offense where the signal-caller has the ball in his hands all the time — and when he’s getting hit a lot. I think Oregon fans with a decent memory know what I’m talking about.

I’m not at all sure what Oregon is going to do for a backup QB now. Daryle Hawkins has been employed as a quarterback/receiver/running back and I have no idea what his quarterback skills are like. True frosh  Bryan Bennett is reputed to be very good but there’s a reluctance to yanking the red shirt off him — perhaps because Darron Thomas is a sophomore. You’d want Bennett to have a couple of seasons to play after Thomas leaves.

At the same time, though, a national championship is at stake. If Bennett is the best guy, you’ve got to use him. There’s no question about that. You cannot risk the prestige, money and everything else that comes with a national title.

And really, with all the exposure the Ducks are getting this season and the step upward the program has taken, I can’t imagine there will be any problem finding another quarterback out there in the coming seasons.

So I have no idea whether Coach Chip Kelly will choose Hawkins or Bennett, but I’d guess he’ll pick the absolute best one, whichever one he is. And make no mistake, that’s an important decision.

The Ducks are one finely turned machine. A juggernaut. But all valuable things need insurance. And Costa was that insurance.

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