David Yost

Former UO assistant David Yost named offensive coordinator at Utah State

Former UO assistant David Yost named offensive coordinator at Utah State

Former Oregon quarterbacks coach David Yost has been named the offensive coordinator at Utah State, the program announced.

“We’re excited to hire coach Yost as our new offensive coordinator,” Utah coach Matt Wells said in a press release. “His pedigree and background as a quarterback coach and ability to develop explosive offenses will be very exciting for our fans and players alike. We welcome David, Carrie and their three kids to the Aggie football family and to Cache Valley.”

Yost spent one season at Oregon coaching quarterbacks after being hired away from Washington State where he coached receivers. He helped with the rapid development of freshman quarterback Justin Herbert, who threw for 1,936 yards and 19 touchdowns with four interceptions.

“I'm very grateful for this opportunity and for the confidence that coach Wells has shown in me,” Yost said in the release. “Being an offensive coordinator is a big responsibility and I’m looking forward to helping Utah State football.”

Yost was last an offensive coordinator at Missouri in 2012.

Don't expect any former Oregon assistant coaches to return under Taggart

Don't expect any former Oregon assistant coaches to return under Taggart

It's becoming increasingly unlikely with each passing day that new Oregon football coach Willie Taggart will retain any of the assistant coaches from former coach Mark Helfrich's staff.

In fact, let's just say right now that barring some dramatic twist of fate, none will return.

Taggart has named just one assistant coach since his introduction on Dec. 8, and that's defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt, hired away from Colorado in a deft move to help rebuild the defense. Jimmie Dougherty, according to reports, will become the new wide receivers coach. But Oregon has not officially announced his hiring.

Their selection means the end to the Oregon careers of defensive coordinator Brady Hoke and offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach Matt Lubick. Leavitt will also coach linebackers, which means that long-time assistant Don Pellum is also likely out.

According to sources, Taggart has not spoken to any of the former assistant coaches about remaining at UO, and has made it clear to some that he is going in a different direction with his staff. This comes despite Taggart stating during his introductory press conference that he would at least talk to former assistants. Just one assistant coach, according to sources, has had any contact at all with Taggart and that came about because of a chance meeting within the team's complex.

The assistants received termination letters within days after Helfrich was fired on Nov. 29, and were given until Dec. 31 to clear out their offices. Their contracts run out in late January. Some have already started looking for new jobs. Former UO offensive coordinator Matt Lubick has landed at Ole Miss as wide receivers coach. Other support staff members have also been terminated, according to sources.

So what's taking Taggart so long to fill in the coaching vacancies?  For starters, Taggart's former team, South Florida, still has a game to play. The Bulls face South Carolina on Dec. 29 in the Birmingham Bowl (Alabama). By Dec. 30, expect Taggart to start naming new Oregon assistant coaches as he raids the Bulls' staff.

It's also likely that Taggart will hire assistant coaches from other teams involved in bowl games, as well as some coaches from losing teams. However Taggart chooses to fill out his staff, the inclusion of holdovers from Helfrich's crew appears unlikely.  

Taggart appeared on ESPNU earlier this month, stating that he is looking to complete his staff as quickly as he can.

"I don't want to rush it and just do it, but I want to make sure we get the right guys, the right fit to come in here and help me take care of our players," Taggart said.

That, of course, is entirely Taggart's prerogative. An argument could be made that holding over a couple of assistants could help with Taggart's transition and adaptation to coaching in a Power Five conference. On the other hand, a counter argument could also be presented that the controversial firing of Helfrich and his staff after they had achieved so much success with some stretching back more than 30 years almost requires a completely fresh start in order to allow Taggart to fully redirect the program in an entirely different direction of his design.

That said, there certainly could be value found in at least having talks with former assistants, even if only to pick their brains about what went wrong during a 4-8 season, and about returning players that Taggart must win with over the next few seasons. But those talks have not happened.

Instead, Taggart is going full-speed ahead with his plans to retool the entire department in the mold of what he built at USF.

One USF staff member already in the fold at Oregon is David Kelly, who was/is South Florida's director of player personnel. According to sources, Kelly will hold the same, or a similar position with Oregon, and he has already been spotted at the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex.

Kelly is regarded as a high-end recruiter but has had one run-in with the NCAA over rules violations.

In 2010, Rivals.com named Kelly one of the top 25 recruiters in the country, according to the USF website bio on the coach. Kelly has coached at LSU, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Stanford, Duke, in addition to a controversial stint at the University of Central Florida. 

Kelly was a successful recruiting coordinator at the UCF before he was fired following a NCAA investigation that determined he had violated recruiting rules. The investigation occurred in 2011 and consisted of great similarities to the Willie Lyles case that got Oregon into hot water with the NCAA, also in 2011. 

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Kelly, who had denied any wrong doing regarding this case, was accused of violating rules during his association with Ken Caldwell, who mentored Chicago high school football and basketball players. According to the article, Kelly, along with then UCF athletics director Keith Tribble and basketball coach Donnie Jones were all accused of allowing Caldwell to steer athletes to UCF, much like Lyles was accused by the NCAA of steering running back Lache Seastrunk to Oregon in 2010. 

Kelly was fired from UCF. According to the Orlando Sentinel article, that led to a decline in the program's recruiting, and that led to a decline in victories. UCF went 12-1 in 2013 and then 9-4 and 0-12 in 2015. UCF then hired former Oregon offensive coordinator Scott Frost to take over the program before the 2016 season.

Kelly resurfaced this year at USF and now will try to work his recruiting magic at Oregon, which needs help. Taggart has brought in two high-end recruits, but the Ducks have lost several decommits. UO's 2017 class currently consists of just 12 commits and is ranked 51st in the nation by Rivals.com.

That ranking will spike quickly after Taggart has his staff in place and they hit the recruiting trail for a final four-week push before National Signing Day on Feb. 1.

Even signing just eight three-star recruits would get Oregon's class ranking back into the low 20s, which is where it was before Oregon fired Helfrich.


Taggart plans to talk to current Oregon assistants

Taggart plans to talk to current Oregon assistants

EUGENE - New Oregon coach Willie Taggart said during today's introductory press conference at the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex that he planned to meet with each of the Ducks' assistant coaches to see if they fit with his plans moving forward.

"I'd really like to talk with those guys and see if they are a good fit for what we're trying to do," Taggart said. "I think it's really important that we get the right fit. That's so important in hiring a staff. For me personally, I want to make sure that we hire a staff that's going to capture the hearts and the minds of our football players. That's probably the most important thing for me. They have to be great mentors to our guys to help them accomplish all of the things that they want to capture as a young man." 

Taggart, hired Wednesday to replace Mark Helfrich who was fired last week after four seasons, will be in charge of putting together his own staff, and he must do so quickly. Taggart and his new staff must get to work on salvaging the 2017 recruiting class that Rivals.com ranks 43rd in the country. It ranked in the low 20s before Helfrich was fired and some key recruits withdrew their commitments.

Oregon has several long-time assistant coaches who have been at Oregon from between 14 and 34 years. But chances are that Taggart doesn't keep any more than one or two assistants if any at all. 

It's almost a lock that the entire defensive staff will be replaced, starting with defensive coordinator Brady Hoke. 

University president Michael H. Schill, who spoke first during the press conference held in a team theater, joked that his only football advice for Taggart was for him to "go find a great defensive coordinator."

Taggart himself later said that doing so was one of his top goals.  Oregon ranked 126th out of 128 teams in total defense.

Offensively, coaches like offensive line coach Steve Greatwood, running backs coach Gary Campbell, who could be set to retire, and quarterbacks coach David Yost appear to have the best chance to stick around. Offensive coordinator Matt Lubick will likely be replaced. 

Greatwood has developed a strong offensive line that includes four redshirt freshman while Yost has helped with the development of freshman quarterback Justin Herbert, a promising star.

Still, chances are that none will be retained. This change has the feel of a complete reboot. 

Herbert, the Ducks' unflappable savior, has the program's future in his hands

Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Herbert, the Ducks' unflappable savior, has the program's future in his hands

EUGENE - Oregon freshman quarterback Justin Herbert had just tied a program record with 489 yards passing and gotten his first win as a starter for the Ducks.

He left Autzen Stadium to the sound of fans chanting his name, and coaches and teammates singing his praises.

But one would hardly know Herbert was having such a great day by his demeanor as he fielded questions from reporters following a 54-35 win over Arizona State that ended a five-game losing streak for the Ducks (3-5, 1-4 Pac-12). 

The 6-foot-6 Herbert sat mostly stone faced, revealed no emotion and offered even less with his carefully chosen words devoid of feeling or heart. He appeared more like a judge presiding over a tough case. A politician contemplating policy. A student grappling with a tough test. He did not seem at all like a teenager who had grown up a Ducks fan while starring at nearby Sheldon High School and dreamed of moments like these. 

So the question had to be asked: "Are you happy? Are you bursting inside?"

"I'm really happy to be here," Herbert replied with a smile while shifting in his chair, inducing laughter from observers. "I'm really happy to be a part of the team. And winning that game, that means a lot to me." 

It's okay, Justin. We've all been through this with your hero, Marcus Mariota. Win or lose, Mariota often revealed little after games. During games, however, his play spoke volumes. The same can be said for Herbert, and there's little doubt that the Ducks are happy he's here.

He is their savior. The program, the floundering young players on the roster, and maybe most of all, the coaching staff, starting with coach Mark Helfrich.

Helfrich's employment at Oregon is in doubt, based on the lack of public support athletic director Rob Mullens has shown for his fourth-year coach in what will likely be the program's worst season since at least 2004 (5-6). 

If Mullens is looking for signs of improvement from the team and a sign of hope that the future could be brighter, he need look no further than Herbert. All of the idiotic talk from Helfrich haters - and there are plenty - that he can't recruit or develop quarterbacks (even though he recruited and developed Mariota) has been eviscerated by the presence of Herbert, who when he is done could at least be considered the program's second-greatest quarterback of all time. 

How the program could blow out Helfrich, and his staff, with Herbert in place and a ton of other young and inexperience players who should only get better, would defy logic. 

"We always tell our quarterback that 'there's no off position on the quarterback switch,'" Helfrich said, "'for your team to be great, you've got to be great every single day."

Herbert, by all accounts, has been just that since he arrived to fall camp and began rapidly working his way up the depth chart. 

If you're a Ducks fan you might want to see more personality from your new superstar savior. Then again, it's that same cool demeanor that has helped him get off to such a sizzling start three games into his career as a starter. 

Herbert is unflappable. Nothing appears to faze him. Not ASU's blitz-happy defense. Not becoming a starter mid-season as a true freshman on a 2-3 team. Not getting destroyed 70-21 by Washington in his first start. Not throwing a game-losing interception in double overtime last week at Cal. And certainly not answering questions from probing reporters seeking to pull back the curtain just a bit to find out what makes him tick.

"We have a heart-rate monitor on him," UO quarterbacks coach David Yost said. "We know when it's high and when it's low. He's never too excited or too low."

Herbert might not ever become a quote machine but he is developing into a touchdown machine. In three starts (and five passes in mop up duty at Washington State), Herbert has thrown for 996 yards and 12 touchdowns (four on Saturday) with just two interceptions, and he has rushed for a touchdown. 

"It's not a one-man show but that quarterback position is awfully important..." Helfrich said. "And he's going in the right direction. We can't anoint anybody anything at this point but we like where he's headed. We like his demeanor. We like how he works."

Herbert tied the single-game passing record set by Bill Musgrave in 1989. Not surprisingly, Herbert had no clue he had tied a record and certainly didn't know anything about the man whose record he tied.  

"I didn't know that and I don't know as much about Bill Musgrave as I need to know," he said. 

More important than his statistics was how he accumulated them. Herbert was in complete command on Saturday. He played the game from a mental standpoint far beyond that of a true freshman. He was sacked four times by ASU's variety of blitz packages, but that was a small price to pay for the numerous times he beat the blitz with quick passes, many turning into long gains, such as tight end Pharaoh Brown's 72-yard score on a delayed flat route during the first drive of the game. 

That type of mental ability is allowing Herbert to maximize all of his immense physical gifts. Height. Athleticism. Speed. Quick release. Accuracy. Pocket awareness. He has it all.  

Herbert appears to be all about winning. He took the loss at Cal very hard, given that his interception ended the game. Getting his first win as a starter made him feel a lot better. 

"I think the best part was the win," he said, when asked about his record-tying day. "It meant a lot to our team and a lot to our coaches. So, that's what we're focusing on." 

Even fans chanting his name had little impact on him. 

"It was really cool but I just kind of tried to get off the field," he said. "It was a team effort and the rest of the team deserved all of the credit."

In a season filled with many dark moments and many questioning the direction of the program under Helfrich, there is no denying that the most important position on the team is in place and he will do great things. 

The question is, can Herbert do enough in the team's final four games to make it a no-brainer that the coaching staff, which has been a part of so much success at Oregon, deserves a chance to turn the program around?

The answer here is an obvious, yes. 

Then again, those who are upset about this one-season downturn haven't displayed the same level of class and demeanor shown thus far by a teenager who carries the fate of the program in his right arm but mostly is guardedly happy to be a part of the team he grew up a fan of, win or lose. 

Oregon freshman QB Herbert playing his role

Oregon freshman QB Herbert playing his role

In a perfect world, Oregon freshman quarterback Justin Herbert would have seen more playing time during Saturday's 53-28 win over UC Davis at Autzen Stadium.

A slow start by Oregon's offense, however, led to a late hook for starting quarterback Dakota Prukop. That resulted in Herbert not getting on the field until the final drive of the game. His lone play consisted of handing off the ball on a running play.  

Still, for the local kid from Sheldon High School, simply getting into the game proved to be a thrill. 

“It was really cool. Just glad to be out there," the 6-foot-6 Herbert said. "It was a good win for the team. I was glad to be a part of it.”

Herbert is in this position after beating out redshirt freshman Travis Jonsen and true freshman Terry Wilson Jr. to become Prukop's backup.

Chances are, at some point Herbert will throw a meaningful pass this season. To that end, the Ducks' coaches would like to get him prepared as much as possible. 

“We were trying to get him in the game, get that over with," Yost said. "Get that nervousness out as early as possible in case he’s needed that’s not the first time he sees the field."

Next up: A pass attempt.

Herbert might have gotten a chance to show off his arm had he entered the game sooner. But the Aggies (0-1) kept the game closer than many expected, thus delaying Herbert's debut. 

Herbet said when he entered the game was of no concern him. He spent the game, he said, keeping track of what Prukop was doing and trying to learn. He still has so much to learn even after spending the summer cramming as much knowledge into his head as possible. 

“I really focused on the offense," Herbert said regarding his offseason preparation. "Made sure I got that down, knew all the ins and outs of the offense so I could come in ready.”

His ability to process information and then make plays impressed coaches and teammates during fall camp. Two weeks in it became apparent that he had earned the No. 2 position. 

“It was a little bit of a surprise," Herbert said. "I came in and I just wanted to get the offense down and really focus on this as a learning year.”

A couple of plays he made during camp led Herbert to believe that maybe he had a chance to compete for the job. But when asked on Monday if there had been a moment during camp when everything clicked, he said, not quite. 

“It was really tough and it was a lot of work,” Herbert said. “I think I’m still waiting for that moment. Still have a lot of work to do.”

Prukop expects Ducks to improve greatly in Week 2

Prukop expects Ducks to improve greatly in Week 2

The Oregon Ducks that were on display during Saturday's 53-28 win over UC Davis were nothing compared to what we could see this Saturday against Virginia. 

At least, that's the goal.

“We’re expecting a huge jump from Week 1 to Week 2,” senior quarterback Dakota Prukop said on Monday. 

That improvement goal includes, of course, the play of the quarterback. Prukop, a transfer from Montana State, completed 21-of-30 passes for 271 yards and three touchdowns in his UO debut. But his performance lacked much flare. There were too many hiccups. Still, quarterback coach David Yost wasn't displeased. 

“Kind of happy with the first game,” Yost said of Prukop. “Pretty consistent throughout the whole game doing what he was supposed to do.”

Maybe. But clearly one would expect an Oregon quarterback to be far more dynamic against a mediocre FCS program like UC Davis.

Prukop said he was pleased with how the offense progressed during the game. The first quarter stunk, but the Ducks were humming by the fourth quarter when they racked up 182 yards of offense to reach 522 for the game. 

Missing was No. 24 Oregon's famed pace. Prukop blamed himself for taking time to get the offensive line into the proper protections after struggling to do so properly in the first quarter. 

Yost agreed.

“We’ve got to constantly try to ratchet it up a bit,” Yost said.

Growing pains should be expected with a new quarterback and several new offensive linemen. 

If the theory holds true that the biggest improvement is shown from game one to game two, a theory also endorsed by offensive line coach Steve Greatwood, then Virginia could be in trouble on Saturday. 

TBT: It's the David Yost create-your-own caption game


TBT: It's the David Yost create-your-own caption game

By now, I'm sure you're aware of the unique, old-school surfer look of Oregon's quarterback Coach David Yost. But I'm not sure he's been fully appreciated for his willingness to stick with a look that reminds me a lot of my college roommate in the late 1960s.

Throwback Thursday indeed! Congratulations, Coach -- you've got it going and it's time we celebrated you and your willingness to embrace a unique style.

So let's get on with it -- in the comment section I ask only that you play nice as you create a caption for this boarding dude and his mop.

Freshman QB Justin Herbert impressive thus far

Freshman QB Justin Herbert impressive thus far

Rolling along beneath the surface of Oregon's quarterback competition is freshman Justin Herbert. 

He has virtually no chance of playing this season and will likely redshirt. But that doesn't mean the 6-foot-6, three-star recruit out of Sheldon High School isn't making noise. 

"He really has exceeded all expectations," Oregon quarterback coach David Yost said. 

As with all first-year Oregon players, Herbert is not permitted to speak with the media until after the first game of the season. But Yost had plenty to say about his young pupil starting with pointing out how much Herbert did over the summer to prepare for fall camp in terms of learning the offense. 

That show of commitment has impressed, especially given that Herbert has little chance of playing right away.

Senior transfer Dakota Prukop is beating out redshirt freshman Travis Jonsen for the starting job. A formal announcement on the starter could come as soon as Thursday with the season opener looming Sept. 3 at home against UC Davis. 

Fellow true freshman, Terry Wilson Jr., who arrived on campus in time for spring drills, will likely redshirt along with Herbert unless Prukop and Jonsen were to go down. 

Jonsen, it's assumed, will be the backup while Wilson, who flashed considerable talent during spring, and Herbert compete for third-string. Or, could Herbert be in competition for a larger role?

"He is in the regular rotation right now and he's getting as many reps as all the other guys," Yost said. "I think he's definitely in competition for a spot to where he is traveling and he could be more than just a No. 3 guy."

Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said Tuesday that it's possible Oregon could have a true freshman backup at quarterback.

"(Herbert) is a very productive guy and has had a very good camp thus far," Helfrich said.  

Yost added that Herbert is easy going guy who picks up details within the offense well and has a quick release. 

"It's been really fun to work with," Yost said. "And he has a really natural feel for where to go with the ball through the progressions without having to sit there and over analyze it and over think about it."

But that was before the coaching staff began inputting more elements from the playbook. That, Yost said, slowed down Herbert's progression a bit and now he is playing catchup. His lack of experience within the offense, talent or not, will likely keep Herbert from challenging Jonsen for No. 2. 

Athleticism won't. Herbert, despite his height, can scoot. 

"He's got more athleticism more quickness and more foot speed than he'll probably get credit for because of his size," Yost said. 

The downside to Herbert looking so sharp is that the Ducks are almost assured of having at least one of their three freshmen quarterbacks leave the program within the next 18 months. 

Jonsen, Wilson and Herbert will compete for the starting job next year with one year separating Jonsen from the other two, assuming both redshirt. 

If Jonsen is the starter of the future, there is no way both Herbert and Wilson remain with one serving as the No. 3 with Jonsen having three years of eligibility remaining.

Should Wilson or Herbert end up the starter next season, Jonsen would surely move on. 

This situation, of course, is a good problem for Oregon to have moving forward. It's certainly better to have too many potential star quarterbacks than be forced to dip into the Big Sky talent pool in order to makeup for having a lack of elite talent at quarterback. 


Ducks' QB competition: Advantage, Prukop

Ducks' QB competition: Advantage, Prukop

EUGENE - Advantage, Dakota Prukop

As if any mystery surrounding Oregon's quarterback competition truly existed to begin with, it appears that Prukop, a senior transfer from Montana State, officially separted himself from redshirt freshman Travis Jonsen following a team scrimmage on Tuesday. 

"Dakota has been the most consistent,” Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said. “And then kind of everybody else has had their moments.”

Consistency and experience define Prukop's decided advantage over the competition, which includes true freshmen, Terry Wilson Jr. and Justin Herbert

That advantage allowed Prukop to have a solid scrimmage on Tuesday. 

Prukop, after admitting to having in the past faked a smile in front of cameras following performing poorly in a scrimmage, appeared pleased with his showing on Tuesday. 

“I’m happy with today," he said. "There’s a couple of things I could improve on for sure.”

UO quarterbacks coach David Yost said last week that he was looking for that “it” factor in his starting quarterback. His criteria includes someone who takes charge, leads the team well and produces points.

Prukop, according to Yost, has certainly become that type of leader.

“Dakota has really taken on the leadership thing, and is kind of trying to take charge of the team, kind of challenge the team and get them moving, and everything, which is really positive,” Yost said. 

Jonsen didn't disagree. He said Prukop has played very well during camp, and did so again on Tuesday. Jonsen said all he can do is continue to grow as a player. 

“I won’t get discouraged,” Jonsen said. “Dakota had a great day. Obviously I was inconsistent. I think what really matters is how I’m going to bounce back.”

Jonsen, rated by Rivals.com as the No. 3 dual-threat quarterback in the nation coming out of high school in 2014, has the physical tools to become Oregon's starting quarterback at some point. It simply might be too early for Jonsen to seize that opportunity at this juncture in his young career. 

“Travis, he has a good understanding of the offense now it’s just getting reps over and over again,” Yost said. “They are kind of at two different points of the learning curve.”

Meanwhile, Prukop has leaned on his experience to allow his talents to flourish. 

“Dakota, with the experience he has, has worked hard to use that to his advantage to grow as a QB within the system," Yost said.

Helfrich said last week that he hoped to name a starter 10 days before the first game on Sept. 3.  That would mean doing so on Aug. 24. On Tuesday, Helfrich said he wasn't ready to stand by that declaration, but clearly the team is leaning in Prukop's direction. 

Ducks taking their time with QB race

Ducks taking their time with QB race

Once again, all eyes are on Oregon's quarterback position. 

For the second consecutive season, the Ducks have a fall camp competition for the most important single starting position on any football team. 

But while many outside the program await with anticipation to see who wins the job between Travis Jonsen and Dakota Prukop, the coaching staff is relying on patience to help them make such an important decision. 

"It has to be organic," Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said. "It has to happen right in front of everybody for everybody's best interest."

Prukop, a senior transfer from Montana State, is the front-runner.  Jonsen, a redshirt freshman, is said to be in the hunt. For whatever reason, the coaches insist that freshman Terry Wilson is also in the mix. But it is highly unlikely that a true freshman would help the Ducks improve on last season's 9-4 record. 

Oregon quarterbacks coach David Yost said he's looking for the quarterback that displays the "it" factor. The guy who takes charge, runs the show with confidence and, most of all, produces points. 

"I've done this for a long time and there's kind of a time when you get to and you're like, 'yep, that guy is the guy,'" Yost said. "It does kind of happen all of the sudden."

The wait for that moment could take longer with Jonsen than with Prukop.

Look, the Ducks didn't sell Prukop on leaving MSU for Oregon by telling him he could end up spending his senior season backing up a redshirt freshman. That doesn't mean UO guaranteed Prukop he would be the starter, but they certainly didn't tell him he didn't have the inside track. 

Sources say Prukop has anywhere from a 75 percent to a 90 percent chance to be the starter when the team takes the field for the first time this season on Sept. 3 against UC Davis at Autzen Stadium. 

Last year, the coaching staff also played their quarterback choice close to the vest even though sources said it was clear from the first day that Vernon Adams Jr. stepped onto the practice field that he would be the guy over Jeff Lockie. However, Lockie had a leg up on understanding the system, so Adams had to play catch up in that area. Once he did, the "competition" was a wrap.

This year's battle is a bit closer because Jonsen, rated by Rivals.com as the No. 3 dual-threat quarterback in the nation within the 2015 recruiting class, has far greater potential than Lockie, and Prukop is not the gunslinger and playmaker Adams proved to be on a nightly basis after transferring in from Eastern Washington.

However, the gap in experience between Prukop and Jonsen is simply too great.  Prukop produced 70 touchdowns at Montana State. Jonsen has never thrown a pass in a college football game.

Jonsen said during Oregon's media day that Prukop certainly has the edge in the experience department, and it shows. Jonsen added that while his pocket presence has improved, Prukop's is already very good. 

Jonsen also pointed to the savvy Prukop routinely demonstrated last spring during two-minute situations, something Jonsen is still learning to handle.  

In the end, Prukop's proven guile could provide the tipping point in his favor. 

Prukop exited spring as the likely starter, and, according to Yost, did nothing but help himself over the summer by watching plenty of video, picking the brains of Lockie and backup quarterback Taylor Alie for information, and taking charge during summer workouts. 

"Dakota has worked his tail off with the offense all summer," Yost said.  

For now, Prukop and Jonsen are getting equal reps during practices. Helfrich said that ideally they would name a starter about 10 days before the opening game so the team could start game prep. So, around Aug. 24. 

But again, there is no real rush.  

"If it happens soon, great," Helfrich said. "If it happens later, that's great, too."