Ducks

Ducks: Anthony Brown is QB1, 3-way battle for QB2 says Mario Cristobal

Ducks

Oregon fans got to see three Oregon four-star quarterback signees play in a Ducks uniform for the first time during the 2021 Spring Game.

If Saturday's performances are anything to go by, the Ducks will have a great starter behind center next season and beyond between Ty Thompson, Jay Butterfield, and Robby Ashford

However, after all 15 spring football practices, the starting quarterback gig when the Ducks open the season against Fresno State is still senior Anthony Brown's to lose. 

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"We think Anthony’s the one," said Mario Cristobal after the Spring Game. "He’s the one that’s leading but we’re not going to let that die. We’re going to keep that engaged and rolling as we get into the summer."

With Cristobal running the program, no spots will be given and all will be earned, though.

It's not impossible for one of the three freshmen to win the starting gig, but before that conversation happens, they need to defeat each other on the depth chart.

"That battle for the two-spot is really tight," explained the Ducks head coach.

That decision will not get any easier given the play of the three freshmen.

None of the quarterbacks threw an interception Saturday despite the defense emphasizing creating turnovers all spring. 

Thompson threw for 75 yards (5-9 passing) while Butterfield had 118 yards and a touchdown (6-9 passing) along with Ashford adding 123 yards and a touchdown (8-9 passing). 

 

Meanwhile, all three showed the ability to extend plays with their legs, even Jay Butterfield who, despite athleticism concerns in Joe Moorhead's offense, had a nine-yard rush.

Butterfield connected on a deep ball to Dont'e Thornton on his first pass attempt while Ashford had a handful of impressive throws into tight windows.

However, it's worth mentioning Oregon's top-two cornerbacks Mykael Wright and DJ James were out with minor injuries.

Thompson wasn't a slouch either leading multiple RedZone opportunities and do not forget he, unlike the other two freshmen, arrived onto campus earlier this year. Both Ashford and Butterfield have a year having learned Moorhead's offense.  

"Those guys took command at the line of scrimmage and made this a really, really good battle for that two-spot," said Cristobal. 

As for when a starter will officially be named, do not expect it to happen until quite close to the season opener.

“It’s not going to make anybody better. Just handing the [job] to somebody and saying ‘Hey, you’re good to go’ is not going to enhance the competitive character of our football team. So we’re going to turn it up and turn it up on everybody and we expect really good results from them," Cristobal explained.

But, it surely seems like the job is Anthony Brown's to lose.

After the game, many receivers such as Johnny Johnson III told the media Brown made great decisions all afternoon long.

"Great decision making, like he always has," described the senior receiver. "The poise he has back there and just leading us down the field, making all the right decisions and he’ll continue to do that."

However, Brown was less enthusiastic about his 230-yard, one-touchdown passing performance.

“Today was good. It wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be. It happens like that sometimes," Brown said. 

"We have things to work on. I have things to work on. We can just move on from there, get on the film and learn from it and fix the mistakes and keep progressing."