Photo courtesy of Oregon athletics

Going into the 2020 season, everyone seemed to know that Tyler Shough was to be the heir apparent to Justin Herbert’s throne as Oregon’s starting quarterback.

After 167 attempts Shough wasn’t exactly the “Herbert with swagger” fans and some Ducks’ players heralded him as. In some areas, Shough graded out really well. After all, he has all the tools.

Contrarily, decision making — not just in passing situations — was lackluster this season. Often times, Shough would make the wrong decision or take too long to decide on read options, causing plays to result in losses of yardage, no gain or even fumbles.

Shough did have some flashes of what he could be at the same time. In only his second start, Shough went 21-for-30 passing with 312 yards, four touchdowns and an interception in a 43-29 win over Washington State.

The next week was more of the same — 19-for-30 with 334 yards, three touchdowns and no picks against UCLA. He added 122 yards rushing over those games as Oregon raced to a 3-0 start.

The problem is that we saw just as much struggle as we did success in the shortened 2020 campaign. That is primarily the reason this is even a discussion.

Who else is there?

A lot can happen over the next seven or eight months, but here are the contenders to take over Shough’s starting spot, from most likely to least:

  • Robby Ashford: Ashford and Jay Butterfield were each true freshmen this past season. Ashford, like many elite quarterbacks to come out lately, has a baseball background. Ashford has traits similar to a quarterback that Oregon fans may remember — Vernon Adams Jr. Like Adams, Ashford has really mastered the improvisation of the quarterback position. If a play breaks down, he’s proven capable of turning nothing into something.
  • Jay Butterfield: Jay Butterfield is something of a lost art — a pure pocket passer. Some might say Herbert with less legs. Butterfield is regarded as a young quarterback with a high football IQ, incredible poise and pocket awareness. Butterfield has the ability to pick apart defenses. Nevertheless, the lack of mobility may hinder him at the FBS level.
  • Anthony Brown: One may wonder why Anthony Brown is so low on this list and rightfully so. Brown has shown flashes of high potential in live action. Incidentally, it seems his camp may not be happy with how the 2020 season went. His quarterback coach went as far as to go on Twitter to ask schools in need of a signal caller to “hit my line”. This makes it seem unlikely that Brown will be at Oregon in 2021.