Never has there been so many Oregonians on the edge of their seats because of questions like this:
Suppose two Duck fans live 240 miles apart. One fan has three young children who are planning to visit their Beaver fan aunt for a week. To prevent driving so far, the Duck fans agree to leave at the same time, drive toward each other, and meet somewhere along I-5. The Duck fan with the three children tends to drive carefully and obey the speed limit. Her average rate of speed is 70 mph. The other Duck fan drives too fast, and his average rate of speed is 80 mph. How long will it take the two Duck fans to meet each other to transfer the children?
The immediate future of Duck football hinged in the balance Thursday afternoon when possible transfer quarterback Vernon Adams took his online math final. A passing grade means graduation from Eastern Washington, allowing Adams to officially transfer to Oregon and competing with Jeff Lockie for the starting job. A non-passing grade would mean Lockie would be the Duck calling out the plays and life goes on.
Oregon football will continue whether Adams passed or flunked this test, but for Adams, it would have dramatically changed his life plans. Eastern Washington coach Beau Baldwin has already gone on record with the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Wash. saying the Adams’ time as an Eagle was over and that he would be welcomed back.
“Besides what gets printed or this or that, we’ve kept a good relationship because I care about that young man and we have mutual respect.” Baldwin told the Spokane paper. “It wouldn’t matter who it is. Once you decide you’re moving on and this is where you’re going, it can’t be a revolving door.”
Adams won’t have to worry about that possible revolving door at EWU because he was able to pass his math final. To be fair, the problems on his math final were probably a lot tougher than the example provided.
What will also be tough is learning the Oregon offensive playbook in just three weeks. Eastern Washington does run a similar offense, so Adams will have that advantage over a true freshman coming into Eugene and learning the playbook from scratch. But the Ducks’ offense is a bit more complicated than the Eagles and learning the plays and calls in just three weeks will not be easy.
The newest Duck will also need to create some chemistry with the Oregon receiving corps, which is being heralded as the best in school history. Adams will also need to get accustomed to the offensive line and his backs. Adams will need to learn the running backs’ tendencies, where each receiver likes the ball and the abilities of each of his lineman.
Oregon coaches will have an adjustment to make if Adams is indeed the quarterback. Adams is more of a running threat than Lockie.
Those units will also need to learn how Adams likes to do things. How he hands it off, how well he performs the read-option, what kind of ball he throws. Does he throw a heavy ball or a light ball?
Of all the variables each unit needs to familiarize itself with, maybe the most important could be how quickly the Oregon offensive line gets used to Adams’ cadence in calling out plays and calling for the snap. A five-yard false start penalty could spell out the end of a potential scoring drive.
Lockie is entering his fourth season in the Duck program and, as a redshirt junior, he is light years ahead of Adams in terms of system and personal knowledge.
Followers of the Pac-12 became familiar with Adams in 2013 when he and his Eagle team were able to come into Corvallis and upset Oregon State, 49-46. Adams was a one-man wrecking crew on that September day, throwing for 411 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed for 107 yards and two more scores, including the game-winner with 18 seconds left.
Adams almost made upsetting a Northwest Pac-12 opponent a yearly thing when Eastern Washington went into Seattle and intimidating Husky Stadium. Although his team couldn’t pull out the victory, Adams was the best player, by a wide margin, on the field.
In the 59-52 defeat, Adams torched the Washington defense for 475 yards and seven touchdowns through the air. This was a defensive unit that featured three NFL first round draft picks in lineman Danny Shelton, corner Marcus Peters and All-American safety Shaq Thompson .
Washington would eventually pull away, but the Huskies couldn’t stop Adams on that sunny Saturday last September.
If Adams is named the starter, and Lockie will definitely have something to say about that, the Ducks hope he can put up similar numbers against the Dawgs, a team they visit Oct. 17.
* The answer to the math problem above is 1 hour, 36 minutes for those who wanted to know.