It's never too early to look ahead in the sports world, so CSNNW.com is taking a nine-part, position-by-position glance at the 2016 Ducks.
Key loss: Vernon Adams Jr. put on many entertaining performances during his one-and-done season with the Ducks. Unfortunately for Oregon's record, his showing started out rough and ended horribly thanks to injuries. Adams' presence did help Oregon go a respectable 9-4, but his injuries reinforced the importance of having depth. UO went 2-3 in games Adams did not play in or did not finish, other than the opener over Eastern Washington in which he left after suffering an injury with the team already up big.
Depth could be an issue again in 2016.
Projected starter: Things were so dire behind Adams, a graduate transfer from Eastern Washington, that Oregon dipped back into the Big Sky Conference to recruit Dakota Prukop (6-2, 200) from Montana State to be the starter in 2016.
Positives: Oregon would have gone 5-7 last season without Adams. The same could be said for 2016 had the Ducks not landed Prukop, who last season passed for 3,025 yards and 28 touchdowns with 10 interceptions for the Bobcats. He also rushed for 797 yards and 11 scores.
Prukop certainly should fit well in Oregon's offense. Lockie returns to give the Ducks an experienced backup. Alie should improve. The Ducks are still developing Jonsen and Mahalak.
Negatives: Let's forget about Prukop for the time being. The real story line for 2016 at the quarterback position is what's behind him on the depth chart.
Oregon cannot afford to allow Lockie to be the unchallenged backup next season, and that challenge must come from Mahalak and/or Jonsen. Mahalak is already making visits to other programs in an effort to seek a potential transfer. The fact that Oregon granted him his release to seek other options is an indication that the program is no longer high on his potential.
The pressure then falls to Jonsen, a four-star recruit last year, who enrolled early, participated in spring drills then sat out the season following a turf toe injury.
Jonsen is essentially Oregon's Luke Skywalker. The program's only hope to restore balance to what has been a horrid run of quarterback development beyond Marcus Mariota.
Unless Lockie makes a dramatic improvement, Jonsen should be able to beat him out if he has any chance of becoming a starter in the future.
Jonsen becoming the backup would of course be important should something happen to Prukop, but it's even more important in terms of setting the stage for 2017.
In that event that Jonsen fizzles, and unless new freshmen recruits, Terry Wilson and Justin Herbert surprise, the Ducks could be right back fishing in the Big Sky pond for yet another starter.
Not a good look for the program.
Once, okay. Twice raises eyebrows. Three times? Something is wrong.
Conclusion: Oregon will be in good hands with Prukop for next season, but he won't be good enough to get the Ducks back to the national playoffs. Truthfully, that's not really a knock. Getting there is far from easy.
The most compelling story line at this position will be how quarterbacks coach David Yost does in developing Jonsen, Wilson and Herbert (and Mahalak if he returns).
Position grade: C. Potentially good starter. Major concerns behind him.
Next up: Running backs.