At Oregon’s Fan Day, Chip Kelly, Marcus Mariota speak for first time after QB decision
Head coach Chip Kelly addressed the media during Saturday’s Fan Day — the first time since Friday’s decision to give the starting quarterback job to redshirt freshman Marcus Mariota. Kelly praised both quarterbacks on making the decision so difficult, pointing out that even he didn’t know which way it would go for a few weeks. Eventually, he said, the situation sorted itself out.
“We saw separation, and that’s why Marcus is the starting quarterback. … Marcus earned and won the starting job,” Kelly said matter-of-factly. As far as rumors Bryan Bennett would transfer somewhere he could start under center, Kelly acknowledged Bennett’s talent — “I think Bryan Bennett would start for a lot of universities in this country” — but said ultimately the decision would hinge on what’s best for Bennett. While Kelly spoke, Mariota waited behind the media horde, joking with wideout Josh Huff and running back Kenjon Barner.
Finally, it was the 6-foot-4 Hawaiian’s turn to face the media for the first time as starting quarterback. As he settled in front of the cameras, Barner cracked a smile.
“He looks nervous,” Barner said. “Here, watch this.” Barner wedged his body in next to media members, squeezing his shoulder pads next to KVAL’s film crew. He raised his hand like a mock journalist and tried to catch Mariota’s eyes. After a few seconds, he laughed and backed off.
“Aw, he’s ignoring me,” the running back said, nodding at the guy who will be handing the ball off to him in just seven days.
Meanwhile, Mariota was finding one hundred different ways to say he was excited about his new responsibilities.
“To finally get the news, to finally know that you’re the guy, it’s exciting.” Mariota said. “It’s a blessing in itself. It’s an honor.”
Soon it was Bennett’s turn. The 6-foot-3 sophomore was stoic and professed support for Mariota, but he also remained confident he could win the starting job back outright.
“My dreams aren’t over,” Bennett said. “This is just a little hump in the road.” The Encino, Calif., native also deflected transfer rumors.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. (Transferring) is not anything I want to do. … (But) in the future you never know what’s going to happen. I have to think about what’s best for myself, but as of right now I want to be here, and I want to be on this team.”
Offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich wrapped up the majority of the media session by echoing much of what Kelly said, adding the QB battle came down to “decision-making, and (who was) taking care of the ball a little better.”
The first group of fans arrived at Autzen Stadium around 6 a.m. for Saturday’s Fan Day that followed practice. The reaction from fans and players was huge on twitter.
S/O TO ALL THE FANS WITH THE NUMBER #6
— De’ANTHONY THOMAS (@BLACPOLO6) August 25, 2012
Fan day was great
— Bralon Addison (@BralonAddison11) August 25, 2012
Fan Day was a giant reminder what an amazing gift this experience has been and how much it means to me to represent this university
— Carson York (@CarsonYork) August 25, 2012
At least two thousand here at Autzen for Oregon Ducks fan day. Offense is heading out next. twitter.com/ChrisMcKeeTV/s…
— Chris McKee (@ChrisMcKeeTV) August 25, 2012
— Marc Risenmay (@farcles) August 25, 2012
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