Shough and true freshman Cale Millen are only scholarship quarterbacks on roster behind Justin Herbert

Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert will be in the national spotlight in the fall.

Tyler Shough understands this is his time to shine.

With Braxton Burmeister leaving the team and true freshman Cale Millen adapting to life in a Power Five program, Shough has a chance to establish himself as a reliable backup to Herbert and get an arm up on winning the starting job in 2020.

The 6-foot-5, 210-pound redshirt freshman is participating in spring practice for the second time after enrolling early last year.

“The game is slowing down a lot more,” Shough said after Friday’s practice. “I feel acclimated to the team culture and vibe. It’s just football now. I know all the plays, so it’s becoming more fun.”

 

Shough was assigned mop-up duty in three games in 2019 but did not attempt a pass.

During the Civil War in Corvallis, Shough initially replaced an injured Herbert late in the second quarter. At halftime, coach Mario Cristobal and offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo decided to let the more experienced Burmeister run the offense.

The Ducks finished off the 55-15 victory over Oregon State by rushing for 392 yards. Burmeister, who struggled in relief of Herbert as a true freshman in 2017, completed one pass for 16 yards.

“No one really saw how much it hurt him last year,” left guard Shane Lemieux said of Burmeister after the lopsided win over the Beavers at Reser Stadium. “That’s a really unfortunate situation to go in as a freshman. I couldn’t even imagine how much he had to step up. This offseason he’s really just developed as a leader and a football player.”

Burmeister, the dual-threat quarterback prospect in Willie Taggart’s 2017 recruiting class, has transferred to Virginia Tech seeking a fresh start.

Now Shough is one snap away from piloting Oregon’s offense, which returns 10 starters from last year’s 9-4 finish to Cristobal’s first season as coach.

“He has come so far,” Herbert said of his understudy. “He’s so smart and he’s able to pick up the offense so easily. I mean, he had it down the first week he was here. He’s a guy that’s great to have in your room and pushes me and I’m sure I try to push him. He just helps the team a bunch. Great guy to have.”

Vernon Adams Jr. returned to Oregon on Thursday for the program’s annual pro day in the Moshofsky Center.

Adams, who plays for the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League, was reminding NFL scouts that he still throws a beautiful ball.

It was also a reminder for the Ducks of the importance of developing a reliable No. 2 quarterback.

The broken index finger Adams suffered in the 2015 opener derailed Oregon’s run at a Pac-12 championship and his concussion in the second quarter of the Alamo Bowl led to the Ducks’ historic collapse in the 47-41 triple-overtime loss to TCU.

During Taggart’s lone season at Oregon, the Ducks were 6-1 when Herbert started and 1-4 when he was out with a broken clavicle.

“I’ve tried to take advantage of the opportunities I’ve been given so far,” Shough said of preparing to provide the team with some quality depth at the sport’s most important position. “I’m thankful for every rep I get, I’m doing the best I can for the team and supporting Justin and just being ready if my number’s called. …

“With a year under my belt, I feel I have a lot more to prove. Each day I feel like I haven’t done anything yet and I have to prove myself. No matter what, I’m still fighting.”

Fortunately for the Ducks, Herbert decided to return for his senior season instead of entering the NFL draft.

Oregon will likely be picked to win the Pac-12 in the preseason poll and will have a chance to get the College Football Playoff selection committee’s attention in the opener against Auburn on Aug. 31 in Arlington, Texas.

“Herb is out here elevating his arm, his reads, his accuracy as well,” wide receiver Jaylon Redd said. “I definitely have noticed that at the beginning of spring.”

The Ducks completed their fifth of 14 practices Saturday and will take two weeks off for finals and spring break. The team will conduct a public scrimmage April 6 at Hillsboro Stadium and the spring game is April 20 at Autzen Stadium.