Go ahead, take the keys from Jeremiah Masoli if you'd like. Tell the world you don't believe in him. Declare the Ducks quarterback the problem on offense for the University of Oregon, and call for him to be benched. But if you do, know you're blowing up the wrong guy. The Ducks offensive line has been awful. As a group, the Oregon receivers have dropped passes, and failed to make plays. And Masoli
isn't going to look good at quarterback until those units start playing better. Remember the 'Masoli for Heisman' talk?
Not this season. Not this guy. Not with the pocket breaking down around him and the receivers foundering and taking up space. Because anyone who watched Masoli perform last season knows quarterbacking is not the problem in Eugene. Masoli has a new head coach. He has unproven receivers. Running back LeGarrett Blount is gone from the backfield, suspended. And offensive lineman Max Unger, who started every game while he was playing for the Ducks, is now blocking for Seahawks.
When Masoli took his first snap of this season, he had Mark Asper (one career start) at right guard and Carson York (zero starts) at left guard. At center, there was Jordan Holmes (four starts), which is only
to say there was a big question mark in the center of the Ducks offense. Bench Masoli? Sure thing.
Just know Masoli is 10-3 as a starter. And I'm thinking Nate Costa and Darron Thomas aren't going to do a lick better. And with Thomas, you're burning a redshirt season. And if Oregon really is going to evolve as a football team and maximize Chip Kelly's first season as head coach, it's going to come with Masoli at quarterback. Things are different in Corvallis, where Team Rodgers is looking for a productive complement in the backfield.
At Oregon State Lyle Moevao is coming back from an injury, and Sean Canfield has been so-so as a starter. There's evidence that Moevao is a superior leader, and a passer capable of winning big games. We don't have any proof of performance from either Costa or Thomas. Still, frustrated Ducks fans booed Masoli last week and are using their time this week to let him know they'd rather see someone else with the ball in his hands. How does he deal with it? Said Masoli: "I just block it out, man." Masoli's been decent running the ball. He's rushed for 145 yards and four touchdowns. But what Oregon needs is to take some pressure off him by making plays around him, especially on the offensive line.
Bench those guys first. And bench the receivers who haven't made plays. And do it knowing that Masoli's already been sacked five times in three games, this after being sacked only 15 times the entire 2008 season. Sometimes change brings a change in chemistry. Sometimes it puts a deserving player who is sitting on the bench in position to make plays on the field. But if you're interested in swapping out Masoli for someone else, you're not making the right kind of change.
The change needs to be a swap of inconsistency for consistency on the offensive line. The Ducks best chance to win comes with Masoli at quarterback, doing what he's always done -- winning games. We're talking about a player who has had success at every level he's played, including this one. Confidence is an important asset for a quarterback. It manifests comfort. And right now Masoli looks rattled because he feels like he has to carry the entire burden on offense. Replacing him isn't going to solve Oregon's problems. Make a change at Oregon?
Sure thing. Start by benching the calls for Masoli's job.