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Will late start set Oregon's Vernon Adams back in QB rotation?

Vernon Adams is trying to get brought up to speed now that he has arrived at Oregon's camp. Courtesy of Eric Evans

EUGENE, Ore. -- At a program that's constantly speeding up its offense, the question is whether a late start is fatal to a player's season.

As quarterbacks Jeff Lockie and Vernon Adams -- the former, a longtime Marcus Mariota backup and the latter, a FCS transfer who arrived on campus four days after fall camp began -- battle for the starting job, expect the coaching staff to keep the starting race under wraps.

Two months ago nearly every writer in the country would've bet Adams would be the starter in the Ducks' Sept. 5 season opener against his alma mater Eastern Washington. But his late start combined with the number of reps Lockie has had with his receivers and the offensive line have leveled the playing field a bit.

Chances are Oregon coach Mark Helfrich won't announce the QB starter until game week.

But, until then?

"We'll keep trying to force feed him and jam as many things into his head as his head can hold," Oregon offensive coordinator Scott Frost said. "But sometimes there's no substitute for experience and having seen some of the things we're talking about."

If there were a substitute for experience, at least within the Ducks' offense, it would be athleticism and mobility, which is something Adams does have. But is that enough to play within the Ducks' offense? Does athleticism trump experience? Or will experience, with a team and a complicated and intricate playbook, rule the day?

After all, it took Lockie a full fall camp, offseason and spring season before he felt as though he knew the nuances of the offense. Same goes for redshirt sophomore Taylor Alie and redshirt freshman Morgan Mahalak.

"The first fall camp was very intense," Alie said. "It took some time just to adjust to the speed and the atmosphere of the practices, and I felt pretty overwhelmed coming in with little knowledge of the offense and trying to jump in with both feet."

"It took longer than I thought -- honestly about a year to get it completely down," Mahalak echoed.

To be fair, all three of those players came from the high school level to Oregon, not from the FCS level to Oregon.

Adams has collegiate playing experience, but even so, the speed of the game and the necessity for comprehension is what some worry about with Adams.

So far in camp, that seems to be evident to some of the receivers, at least ocassionally.

"As far as making the plays and making the right throws and making good throws, he has definitely done a good job at that," wide receiver Bralon Addison said. "But you can kind of see sometimes that he may not be able to go as fast as he would like because it's new for him."

"Sometimes he's a little hesitant or he may be early, a lot of the times he puts it right on the money," wide receiver Dwayne Stanford said of Adams. "But it's about being consistent and putting it on the money every time."

Meanwhile, the talk outside of Oregon's camp is whom exactly fans can put their money on -- Lockie, the consistent, blue-collar guy who has been in the offense for years? Or Adams, the newbie, possible big-risk-big-reward playmaker?

Only time will tell. And that's dwindling down ... which could be Adams' downfall.