On December 18, 2020, the Oregon Ducks utilized a multi-quarterback offense playbook for the first time all season in the Pac-12 Championship Game against the USC Trojans.
And it paid off.
Boston College transfer Anthony Brown got his first minutes in a Duck uniform and took over for starter Tyler Shough in particular down-and-distance situations. Brown completed 3-for-4 passes and threw for two touchdowns with this opportunity and the Ducks came away with the win.
Two weeks later in the Playstation Fiesta Bowl, it did not pay off in the slightest.
The No. 25 Ducks fell to the No. 10 Iowa State Cyclones 34-17 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
The Oregon offense looked confused for most the game, seeing a new quarterback not just on alternate possessions but within drives. How is a quarterback supposed to gain confidence knowing he can be pulled on second down and then thrown back in their on fourth down?
That inconsistency - along with five turnovers and abysmal special teams play - was a huge factor in the Ducks getting shut out in the second half and failing to convert a single third down (0-for-6).
Here is the quarterback breakdown:
- Tyler Shough: 7-for-9 for 79 yards, zero touchdowns and one interceptions
- Anthony Brown: 12-for-19 for 147 yards, two rushing touchdowns and one fumble lost
Heading into this 2020 season, Duck fans knew the starting quarterback spot was going to be a competition. Shough backed up likely NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Los Angeles quarterback Justin Herbert for the past two seasons, but Brown having more collegiate experience brought a unique perspective to the room.
But Shough was named the starter going into 2020 spring ball and the starter in the final game of the season.
Now, the competition will begin again and this time, Shough has a rather large chip on his shoulder.
“My mindset is the same as every offseason,” said Shough following the Fiesta Bowl. “I’ve got to keep getting better. There’s a whole lot to learn from this year. There’s a lot of good stuff that we put on tape but there’s a whole category that we haven’t tapped into. As far as myself, me personally I know what it takes now to get to that next level. I’ve kinda got my feet wet… and this team is hungry for more
Shough started off the Fiesta Bowl completing 3-for-3 of his passes. He didn’t attempt another throw until the third quarter. One could argue that the interchanging of quarterbacks didn’t give Shough the opportunity to gain his confidence back.
This 2021 quarterback competition is only going to get harder and harder. But competition is something he us used to. Despite having an up-and-down season where the first two games Shough looked like the quarterback of the future and then the second half of the season, a quarterback who looked frantic and rushed.
“I’m going to take what’s in front of me and keep working hard…. I’m going to keep controlling what I can control and work hard this entire offseason. I’m going to keep proving myself. Seems like a lot of people are going to keep doubting me and I’m going to keep showing them what I can do and keep proving myself right because I know my abilities and I know I can help and do for this team.
There are a ton of questions that we eagerly will await for answers when the time comes.
Will Brown remain with the Ducks for 2021 or perhaps enter into the transfer portal, especially with incoming five-star prospect Ty Thompson now in the mix. Will Shough be named the starter in the 2021 season-opener?
Only time will tell.