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Your Sunday afternoon was likely rolling along pretty smoothly as a Duck fan, with very little news coming out of the Oregon program. After weeks of breaking news that concerned coaching changes or recruits leaving, for once, it seemed that very little was taking place on that front for the first day in what seemed like ages.
And then former Auburn quarterback Bo Nix announced that he is transferring to Oregon next season, sparking the fanbase on social media and generating a buzz that has been running on high for days straight.
Nix, a three-year starter at Auburn who has 34 games under his belt with 7,251 yards and 39 touchdowns to his name, is heading to Eugene to reunite with former offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham and try to lead the Ducks to the College Football Playoff next year.
So what does this mean for the other quarterbacks on Oregon’s roster, namely true-freshman Ty Thompson? A better question, rather, is whether or not Nix will automatically be named the starting QB next season?
We can’t answer that second part just yet, obviously, but as for the first concern about the young QBs already in Eugene, I would argue that this move brings nothing but upside. For this discussion, we are largely going to focus on things from Thompson’s perspective, since he is the one believed to be the future at Oregon after coming to the program as a 5-star passer, the highest-rated QB in school history. The same argument can be made for either Jay Butterfield or Robby Ashford, though, who also competed for the starting job this past year and certainly stand a chance in that duel next spring as well.
For Ty Thompson, I would argue that this is a great development. After playing in just 3 games during his freshman season and attempting 15 passes, it’s hard to deny the fact that Thompson is not ready for the big stage yet. He simply doesn’t have the reps to give us confidence that he can go into next year and lead the Ducks to a 10-win season. While he is an incredibly talented young player, there are still some concerns within the program that he needs to grow out of his freshman naivete.
Over the next several months, Thompson will have the chance to get more reps and develop some of that polish that makes him a viable starting QB in this league. Without Anthony Brown looming over him, Oregon fans should have some real confidence that the next stage of development will be impactful and encouraging from the true freshman. However, what should happen if Thompson doesn’t take that next step?
That’s where Bo Nix, the insurance policy, comes in.
Nix isn’t an All-American QB who is going to single-handedly lead the Ducks to the promised land. He is closer to an Anthony Brown clone; someone who will complete about 65% of his passes while making very few mistakes and offering some ability with his legs. Should he have the talent around him that Oregon offers, it’s likely that he will succeed.
On top of his presence as a safe and viable option at the QB spot, Nix also offers some veteran leadership in the quarterback room and locker room, as well as somebody who is familiar with the Ducks’ new OC and his offensive scheme. Should Thompson be able to step up and take on the starting role, you then have Nix over his shoulder helping to coach him the entire time and offer guidance.
Of course, that’s not what Nix wants, who is looking for a spot to up his draft stock during his final two seasons of eligibility, but it’s the reality. And that brings me to this last point. The arrival of Nix creates a true competition within the QB room once again.
Competition breeds excellence.
You could say that there would be competition between Thompson, Butterfield, and Ashford, but that was true last season, and we saw Thompson come out on top of the three freshmen. Now, Thompson has to be better than Nix, which will drive him to work harder and become that much better. If the two of them can duel it out in spring ball and continue that into the summer, there is nothing but upside for the Oregon program as a whole. May the best man win.
In the case of the Ducks, may the best man be good enough to bring success to Dan Lanning’s squad on the field, and kick start the new era in Oregon football.