In Oregon's (4-2) 31-24 victory in the Pac-12 Championship Friday evening over USC (5-1), the Ducks had an unlikely hero: graduate transfer quarterback Anthony Brown.
“We developed a short-yardage, goal line package for him," Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said after the game. "Some four-minute stuff as well. It’s just a different look."
The former Boston College quarterback completed 3-4 passes for 17 yard and two touchdowns in limited duty to go along with three rushes for four yards.
“Big body, he can run the ball as well. You saw the touch he put on that pass," added the Ducks head coach. "He’s a really good player. He deserved to play somehow, someway. Not only that but he provided an advantage to us in the RPO world and some of the read-game stuff. He executed really really well."
Meanwhile, Oregon's starting quarterback Tyler Shough appeared to not have the trust of his coaching staff who elected to run the ball twice on third-and-long situations in the fourth quarter. The redshirt sophomore finished the game 8-15 for 91 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
The turnover especially was either a horrid decision or underthrown by 15 yards. Either way it nearly cost Oregon the lead heading into halftime and the Ducks played it safe on offense during the second half.
In fact, it was Brown, not Shough, who was in for the final offensive drive which aimed to run off the remaining clock. Oregon would punt with 30 seconds remaining and then finish the game in prevent defense.
After the game, Shough said he felt proud of how Brown played.
“I was proud of him for the work he did. I was proud of the way we blocked for him," he said. "They’re tough front and we blocked our butts off and Anthony came in and was clutch in some of those moments. I was really proud of everyone."
So with the Ducks likely Playstation Fiesta Bowl bound, are the Ducks going to consider making a quarterback change by starting Anthony Brown in the bowl game? Doesn't sound like it.
"It's definitely not us making a move or trying to replace or creating controversy," Cristobal said. "I don't want to go that route with the press conference. We did what we needed to do to win against a good defense."
All season long, Cristobal has stated the Ducks will play whoever gives the team the best chance to win so with two weeks until it takes the field in Arizona, don't be surprised if Anthony Brown walks out as the starting quarterback. But don't be surprised if Tyler Shough remains Oregon's starter, either. Those two could easily split time similar to how they did in the Pac-12 Championship, too.
One thing's for sure, with how secretive Oregon plays it when it comes to personnel decisions, Ducks fans will likely have to wait until kickoff on January 2nd to see if Shough remains the starter.