For the first time since 2016, Justin Herbert will not open the college football season as the Oregon Ducks starting quarterback.
Who's waiting in the wings? Redshirt sophomore Tyler Shough: a former four-star recruit from Mario Cristobal's first recruiting class as head coach.
Now, Cristobal believes in him now as much as he did when he recruited him to Eugene, Oregon three years ago as Shough enters fall camp as the starting quarterback.
"It's great to see Tyler finally get his opportunity because in the opportunities he got while Justin [Herbert] was our starting quarterback, he shined," recalled Cristobal. "He really did."
Shough would have started for the Ducks last season if Herbert had left Eugene early to enter the NFL Draft. Instead, Herbert returned for his senior season which left Shough on the sidelines for another year.
Despite that, Cristobal says Shough still attacked every practice as if he was the starting quarterback.
"I think Tyler has always attacked that. I don't think Tyler's ever sat back, even while Justin was here. Yeah, we all knew Justin was going to start on Saturdays but that's just not Tyler's personality."
In fact, the Ducks head coach sees some similarity between Shough and the Los Angeles Chargers starting quarterback.
"He has a lot of similar characteristics, especially in terms of just resiliency, toughness, work ethic... That combined with a presence is something you can never compromise at the quarterback position."
Fast forward to October 2020, Shough enters fall camp as the presumed starter and has taken his demeanor to a new level.
"And now that he's in a different role... his presence, his command, it's pretty special... He has shown it from day one, both in the spring and the little work we spent time together on this past summer and the last couple weeks. This guy is really good. He's a special guy. Special quarterback."
As impressive as Tyler Shough has been, he's not the only reason Cristobal seems confident in his quarterback room that involves four-star freshmen Jay Butterfield and Robby Ashford, redshirt freshman Cade Millen, and Boston College transfer Anthony Brown.
"I feel the same way about the rest of the quarterback group. Some of the young guys, they're swimming but that's okay. They swam the right way. At least we're swimming the right direction. Talented. They get it. And I think between Tyler and a guy like Anthony Brown who has had so much experience, we feel really good about the quarterback position. We feel we're in good hands."
Brown was brought into the Oregon program this past offseason as a graduate transfer to add talent to the roster and compete for the starting job.
"We have a special one in Anthony Brown as well," said Cristobal.
After having a four-year starter leave for the NFL, Cristobal feels the quarterback room is as good as anyone could hope for.
"I think it's what you want. It's exactly what you want out of the quarterback position after going from a four-year starter to a new quarterback. You want to be competitive. You want it to be with good players that are good people that understand that it's going to be a competition and also understand that because of Tyler's time here, he's starts off as the starter going in and let it play out."
With the quarterback competition under way, Cristobal feels confident in whoever lines up behind center, but Shough has the inside track to start on November 7th.
Listen to the Talkin' Ducks Podcast here.