A QB BATTLE LOOMS!

by Frank Baldwin August 14, 2015

ADAMS IS ABOARD!

Vernon Adams passes math test, hopes to join Oregon Ducks on Friday

After a long day of "Did he?" or "Didn't he?" Vernon Adams ended the speculation Thursday night with one Tweet. "Thank God," he wrote. The test is over. The grade was adequate. And now, after six months of transfer hype, Adams is a Duck. 

Adams' Tweet on Thursday evening ended a day of rumors as the transfer quarterback attempted to complete the last remaining step blocking him from enrolling in a University of Oregon graduate program. And now that Adams is an Eastern Washington graduate, he can finally get on the football field, where he's expected to compete for Oregon's starting quarterback job with junior Jeff Lockie. 

Oregon officially announced the addition of Adams on Thursday night, saying the California native is officially on the roster, can compete in team activities and will wear No. 3. In a text to The Oregonian/OregonLive.com, Adams said he hopes to join Oregon practice on Friday. 

Adams, who passed for more than 10,000 yards and threw 110 touchdowns over three years at Eastern Washington, had a bumpy route since announcing his intentions to join the Ducks in February. He initially intended to finish school this spring and enroll at Oregon during the summer, a move that would have afforded the quarterback the ability to jell with his new teammates during summer workouts. But rumors started swirling that Adams hadn't passed a math class required to graduate, and the quarterback confirmed that he would need to take summer classes in Eugene, where he moved in June, to complete his graduation requirements. 

The boiling point of the transfer process came Thursday afternoon, as media and fans anxiously awaited the test results. Adams had told The Oregonian/OregonLive.com to expect the results around 2:30 p.m., but as time passed, the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex developed into a holding house for reporters feverishly checking their phones. When Oregon practice let out, offensive coordinator Scott Frost dodged some Adams questions, saying, "We had a really good practice today. I thought practice went well."  Then he followed with a "no." He didn't know how Adams' test went. 

Overall, players handled the Adams' distraction well. Receiver Bralon Addison was expecting Adams questions when he walked out of practice, and said that he understood the attention the story brought. But, as Oregon is prone to do, the program was able to set aside the distraction once the pads came on. "It's very blown up," Addison said. "I get it. It's because our practices are closed. You guys don't get to see everything. I totally understand the questions that come with Marcus (Mariota) graduating. Who is the next guy? Is he going to be able to do it?" 

Oregon opened camp Monday, meaning that Adams has now missed four practices, in addition to summer and spring workouts. On Friday, he'll begin to work at an accelerated pace to match Lockie — who is entering his fourth fall in an Oregon uniform.  While Lockie doesn't have much game experience, he served as Marcus Mariota's backup for two seasons and has literally thousands of reps within the system. He also looked sharp during Oregon's spring game, going 9 for 9 for 223 yards and three touchdowns.

Adams is behind, but he had an Oregon playbook this summer and three years of starts in a similar Eastern Washington system. Lockie is ahead out of the gate, but players said it wouldn't be impossible for Adams to catch up by Week 1 on Sept. 5 against Eastern Washington. "It's not impossible to do in three weeks," sophomore quarterback Taylor Alie said. "Just a big mountain to climb."

_____________________________________________________________

 

Mandel's Analysis:

Stewart Mandel's Pac-12 picks: Oregon repeats & ruins everyone's playoff shot

This season’s Pac-12, much like last year’s, is incredibly deep. Everyone but rebuilding Oregon State is capable of winning at least seven games (yes, even Colorado.) Unfortunately, I don’t see any one of those teams being dominant enough to finish with a gaudy enough record to make the College Football Playoff.

Oregon is still the class of the conference. Anyone assuming the Ducks will implode post-Marcus Mariota must not remember them making a Rose Bowl with Jeremiah Masoli and a national title game with Darron Thomas. With running back Royce Freeman and a stacked receiving corps, whoever wins the job -- Jeff Lockie or Eastern Washington transfer Vernon Adams -- does not need to replicate Mariota’s near-flawless performance level. My colleague Bruce Feldman thinks Oregon will win the Pac-12, too, assuming Adams is the Ducks' QB.

But that doesn’t mean the Ducks won’t suffer a couple of setbacks -- starting with that game in East Lansing. One of their toughest tests figures to be a Thursday night game at Arizona State shortly before Halloween. The Sun Devils are my pick to win the South, though I found UCLA very tempting. Ultimately I trust veteran Sun Devils QB Mike Bercovici to string together victories more so than Bruins true freshman Josh Rosen. Both have myriad weapons around them and the benefit of good-but-not-great defenses, but ASU plays just two daunting road games, at UCLA and Utah, whereas the Bruins visit Arizona, Stanford, Utah and USC (the last two to end the year).

This could be a year where the Pac-12’s brutal scheduling model could work against it. If ASU played North Texas instead of Texas A&M and Oregon played Central Michigan instead of Michigan State, I’d have them both with playoff-worthy records. As it is, I have ASU winning the first matchup, the 9-3 Ducks topping the 10-2 Sun Devils in the league title game. But, alas, no playoff team.

A few other thoughts:

--Stanford should rebound from last year’s 7-5 regular season, with QB Kevin Hogan continuing his late-2014 momentum and explosive tailback Christian McCaffreyemerging as an every-down threat. An inexperienced defense, though, could keep the Cardinal from reaching double-digit wins.

--My hunch is one of these three North teams -- Washington, Cal or Washington State -- will finish with a much better record than I projected, but it’s hard to foresee which one. Chris Petersen’s Huskies are particularly difficult to read. He could be in for a rough year before taking off in 2016.

--I probably should stop doubting RichRod’s Wildcats after they won 10 games and a division title last season, but on paper they inspire less confidence than ASU, UCLA and USC. Even with superstar LB Scooby Wright, Arizona ranked just 75th nationally on defense (5.7 yards per play).

--I’m higher on Utah than its predicted 7-5 record reflects, but someone’s got to finish fifth. RB Devontae Booker is a special talent, but he’s the entire offense. And Colorado should be more competitive in Mike MacIntyre’s third season, but it needs seven wins to get bowl-eligible.

Predicted standings:

SOUTH

 

TEAM

RECORD (LEAGUE)

Arizona State

10-2 (8-1)

UCLA

9-3 (6-3)

USC

8-4 (6-3)

Arizona

8-4 (5-4)

Utah

7-5 (4-5)

Colorado

6-7 (2-7)

NORTH

 

TEAM

RECORD (LEAGUE)

Oregon

9-3 (7-2)

Stanford

9-3 (6-3)

Cal

6-6 (4-5)

Washington

5-7 (3-6)

Washington State

4-8 (2-7)

Oregon State

3-9 (1-8)

Championship: Oregon over Arizona State

Stewart Mandel is a senior college sports columnist for FOXSports.com. He covered college football and basketball for 15 years at Sports Illustrated.




Frank Baldwin
Frank Baldwin

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