No. 11 Oregon named Anthony Brown its starting quarterback on Friday, just over one week out from the season opener vs. Fresno State. Brown, a "super senior" from Cliffwood, New Jersey, beat out freshman Ty Thompson, along with Robby Ashford and Jay Butterfield for the starting nod. What does that mean for a team picked to win the conference by five of six CBS Sports writers? Coach Mario Cristobal intends to have more of a dual-threat look to his offense.
A transfer from Boston College prior to the 2020 season, Brown initially lost an offseason battle with Tyler Shough, who started the majority of the year for the Ducks. He came in late in the Pac-12 Championship Game and threw for 17 yards and two touchdowns in the 31-24 win over USC. He then got his first significant playing time in the Fiesta Bowl against Iowa State when he threw for 147 yards, rushed for 26 yards and scored twice on the ground.
Brown has rushed for 463 yards and six touchdowns over five seasons as a college quarterback. While he's not Johnny Manziel out there, he's much more than just a "willing runner." That should play well in an Oregon offense that also features running back CJ Verdell, multiple experienced wide receivers and its entire offensive line. Even if Brown isn't a superstar, the continuity that exists in Eugene from last year to this year will help this offense get into a groove early in the season.
But what about the middle of the season and beyond?
Cristobal said that the remaining three contenders are now competing for second-string snaps, but it's unlikely Thompson can be held down for long. The four-star prospect and No. 40 overall player in the Class of 2021 was one of the centerpieces of a class that finished the cycle ranked No. 6 in the nation. The 6-foot-4, 223-pounder from Gilbert, Arizona, has a big arm, nice touch and was a name to follow during preseason camp.
Could the door open for Thompson later this season? That's on Brown now. If he builds upon his Fiesta Bowl success, the Ducks will be in capable hands. If he sputters, Cristobal has the "quarterback of the future" waiting in the wings. It's a good problem to have for a coach who is hoping to lead this program to the College Football Playoff for the first time since 2014.