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Oregon quarterback depth behind Marcus Mariota takes a hit

Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press
There is not a lot of proven depth behind Oregon QB Marcus Mariota.


Oregon will head into the 2014 season with one of the Heisman Trophy front-runners and a possible early 2015 NFL Draft pick at quarterback in Marcus Mariota.

If he gets hurt, however -- as he did last season when he sprained the MCL in his knee -- things could get interesting for the Ducks thanks to a lack of depth behind him.

Backup quarterbacks Damion Hobbs and Jake Rodrigues have both reportedly transferred from the program this month, and the latter has already found a new home at San Diego State, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Rodrigues was ranked as Rivals' No. 5 pro-style quarterback coming out of high school in 2012 and was a competitor in the prestigious Elite 11 competition prior to his senior year. He redshirted his first season in Eugene but saw action in seven games in 2013, going 3-for-6 for 67 yards and a touchdown with one interception. Following a tough battle to become Mariota's backup in the spring, Rodrigues lost out to redshirt sophomore Jeff Lockie and opted to transfer.

Hobbs transferred soon after spring practices ended, as well, but has not selected a new school yet. He redshirted as a freshman in 2013 and never took a snap during a game for Oregon.

The moves leave the Ducks perilously thin on triggermen for their trademark up-tempo offense. Lockie has only thrown 13 passes in game action and is still an unknown quality after seeing little playing time so far. Redshirt freshman Taylor Alie, a walk-on, figures to be third in line at quarterback until four-star recruit Morgan Mahalak joins the squad in the fall.

The 6-foot-4, 218-pound Mariota threw for 3,665 yards last season while posting a 31-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He spurned the 2014 NFL Draft and opted to return to school as a redshirt junior but was considered by some analysts to be an early pick had he come out.

Mariota likely heads into the 2014 season as one of the top quarterbacks on a number of NFL teams' draft boards if he opts to declare next year. NFL Media analysts Daniel Jeremiah and Gil Brandt were among those that recently tapped the tall dual-threat signal-caller as the college player with the greatest pro potential.

Head coach Mark Helfrich better hope Mariota not only lives up to those expectations this year but stays healthy enough to do so given how inexperienced the players behind him on the depth chart are.

Follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter @BryanDFischer.

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