EUGENE - Oregon co-offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo has “that juice,” Ducks coach Willie Taggart covets.
That’s why he hired him. That’s what onlookers have witnessed from the Ducks’ passing game coordinator during spring drills.
“He’s smart. Very smart,” Taggart said. “Very articulate. He does a great job with the players. He’s very energetic. That’s everyday. He’s like coach (Jim) Leavitt. Got that juice everyday. He’s a team player. All about the team.”
New defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt, often "juiced" carbonated, sugary beverages, is a ball of energy on the defensive side while Arroyo is his counterpart on the offensive side of the ball.
Always bouncing. Always on the hop. Arroyo physically exudes the excitement he expresses about being at Oregon.
And it all began with an interrupted phone call following an unfortunate incident.
If Taggart had had his way, Arroyo would already be on year three with his staff. Taggart, while at South Florida, tried to hire the former Tampa Bay Buccaneer' quarterbacks coach when he became available after the Bucs made staff changes following the 2014 season. However, Taggart said USF lacked the financial resources to land Arroyo, who received a better offer from Oklahoma State, where he coached running backs the past two seasons.
When Taggart accepted the head coaching job at Oregon last December he brought David Reaves with him from South Florida to be the Ducks’ passing game coordinator. His tenure didn’t last long. A poor decision to drive while intoxicated led to a DUII arrest on Jan. 22, prompting Oregon to begin the process of terminating him. Reaves ultimately resigned a couple of weeks later.
That put Taggart back on the hunt for a passing game coordinator to compliment running game coordinator and offensive line coach, Mario Cristobal. That trail led Taggart back to Arroyo. This time, armed with greater financial resources from UO, Taggart felt confident he could land his man.
A phone call was placed, somewhat surprising Arroyo.
“My first response was, “I’ve got to buckle my seatbelt, I’m about to take off, I’m on an airplane right now,’” Arroyo explained following Wednesday’s practice. “And, I’ll call you back when I land.”
Arroyo did call back. Taggart answered and offered. Arroyo accepted, eager to work with Taggart.
“In our business it’s a small circle,” Arroyo said. “When you find really, really good people you want to work with you stay in contact, and it worked out.”
Getting back to west coast appealed to Arroyo, who hails from Colfax, Calif., and played quarterback at San Jose State (1998-2002), passing for 4,672 yards and 28 touchdowns over his career.
Arroyo also worked at California under coach Jeff Tedford, a former UO offensive coordinator (1998-2001), as the the quarterbacks coach in 2011 before adding the responsibilities of passing game coordinator in 2012.
Arroyo, who coaches quarterbacks and tight ends for UO, has also coached wide receivers in his past, doing so at Southern Mississippi in 2013 when he was also the offensive coordinator.
“From an experience standpoint, he has everything you’re looking for,” Taggart said.
Right now Arroyo's main focus is on coordinating the Ducks' passing game and evaluating the play of four talented quarterbacks: sophomore Justin Herbert, redshirt freshman Terry Wilson Jr, redshirt sophomore Travis Jonsen and freshman Braxton Burmeister.
Arroyo said the group is getting equal-enough snaps to allow for a true competition. Herbert, who started seven games last season, is the logical favorite to win the job. Arroyo likes what he's seen from him so far.
"What I saw on film coming in was a young man with great poise, some really good traits and intangibles," Arroyo said.
Jonsen said he's enjoyed working with Arroyo, who stresses the importance of being a student of the game.
"He's just been really on us watching film," Jonsen said. "Really taking that free time and really watching yourself in 7-on and team."
Pushing the quarterbacks to match his intensity is part of that “juice” Taggart likes about Arroyo, who came to Oregon with high expectations for himself and the Ducks' offense.
“There’s no barriers for success at Oregon,” Arroyo said.