Nate Costa vs. Darron Thomas

Who will take over Oregon's prolific offense, senior Nate Costa or Sophomore Darron Thomas?

I haven’t been this excited for a football season ever. There are so many compelling storylines in the Pac-10 in the leadup to this season, and one that’s been covered by anyone and everyone is the battle down in Oregon over who will take over the Ducks’ offense after the unfortunate departure of last year’s starting QB Jeremiah Masoli.

Both Costa and Thomas are getting equal reps in practice so far, and head coach Chip Kelly has been pretty quiet about who he thinks is “ahead” in the fight to be the starter. However, there’s been a lot of reporting and speculating done based on their performance in practice. Based on these reports, I’m seeing a pattern emerging: both are too inconsistent, and have a lot of work to do before the season opener.

Rob Mosley on practice today:

Costa threw a pass intercepted by Cliff Harris that involved some sort of miscommunication, because there wasn’t really a receiver close. Thomas responded by running for a touchdown. Then they moved on to driving the team down the field needing to make up a deficit in the closing seconds of a game. Thomas didn’t convert his first chance, taking a couple of sacks in the process, and Costa was intercepted on his first play, by Marvin Johnson. Thomas then drove down to a field goal.

My impressions from reading practice reports are that while both quarterbacks have their moments of brilliance and are turning in their fair share of beautiful passes and good play, they are losing their focus too often and throwing too many interceptions.

Kelly seems to agree, saying in an interview that he needs the QBs to be more consistent:

“They’re doing good things and they’re doing bad things. We need more consistency out of both of them. There are times when, wow, that’s a real good play.

Then there are other times where, ‘Hey, we’ve got to get ourselves out of that play. There is a check system in and you didn’t get to it.’ A couple of those sacks weren’t their fault. The running backs missed a guy so they’re not looking for the ‘hot’ (receiver). But I still think we need more consistency out of that position overall.

If I had to make a prediction as to the stater vs. New Mexico, I’d put my money on Costa at this point. If both players continue to be inconsistent, Kelly will go with the player who has the most experience, and that’s definitely Costa. He’s been with the team much longer, has had (slightly) more playing time, and his short resumé includes a win on the road at UCLA.

While some argue that Thomas would be the better choice “for the future,” this team should not be focused on the future: It’s NOW time. With the ridiculous amount of returning starters the Ducks have to gamble on a less experienced QB could be a total waste of the returning talent there is this season.

Kelly has said that he’s not interested in a 2 QB system, but at this point that might be his best bet, at least for at least the first game. Since it’s pretty much a cupcake, let them each play a few quarters, decide who handles the situation better and make that man the starter the next week at Tennessee.

Only 2 weeks until kickoff!