New coaches bring changes. Will there be a new quarterback?
The first time Willie Taggart spoke to the Oregon football team, he stressed that every position would be an open competition. A new coach brings a clean slate for every player at every position, including quarterback.
Last season, Justin Herbert became the bright spot on what was an otherwise dark and dismal 4-8 season. Now his starting spot is no longer guaranteed; Travis Jonsen and Braxton Burmeister aren’t going to surrender it easily.
Although most in the media believe that Herbert will end up with the starting job, Jonsen, a redshirt sophomore, feels like it is truly an open competition. A fresh start may be exactly what he needs.
He was in a similar position last season while battling Dakota Prukop in the spring. By most accounts, Jonsen played well in last season’s spring game. The narrative throughout fall camp was that it was a battle between Prukop and Jonsen, but when the depth chart was released before the opening game, Jonsen was listed fourth.
With plenty of signal callers in the mix, Oregon quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo just wants everybody to compete, no matter their history.
“[Arroyo] says, ‘Hey, go take someones spot,’ so I think that’s everyone’s mindset,” Jonsen said “He really emphasizes the film room, which I really like. … You are what you put on your film.”
Throughout spring drills, Herbert and Jonsen have typically split the reps. Herbert is usually the first quarterback running the mini-scrimmage, but Jonsen gets first-team reps as well.
For Herbert, the competition is “great for everyone.” Herbert is citing his growth from a half-season worth of experience. Specifically, he wants to work on his footwork.
“Not bouncing up and down every time I drop back,” Herbert said. “I used to step too far back with my right foot. It caused some issues, so Coach Arroyo and I have been working on that.”
The starting job is most likely down to Herbert and Jonsen, but freshman Burmeister is the wild card. He comes from La Jolla, California, and his combination of passing and running ability makes him unique.
“[Burmeister] has been a student of the game already,” Arroyo added. “You want to be hungry, so I am excited about his eagerness to be out there.”
Fans and media will see the quarterbacks work in the new offense for the final time before fall camp this Saturday during the spring game. Although it feels like Herbert’s to lose, Jonsen or Burmeister could also provide Oregon fans with a glimpse of their future quarterback.
Follow Jack Butler on Twitter @butler917
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