EUGENE — While Justin Herbert was his usual steady self at quarterback for Oregon, the Ducks’ spring game gave redshirt freshman Tyler Shough a chance to show off his growth.
Herbert, playing Saturday for the Mighty Oregon side, completed 17 of 32 passes for 219 yards and two touchdowns. Shough, starter for the Fighting Ducks, completed 18 of 31 passes for 178 yards and a score. Clad in green, the Mighty Oregon side prevailed in the end 20-13.
But Shough stood out.
“Just major improvements. A lot of maturity, definitely, since last season,” running back Cyrus Habibi-Likio said about Shough. “Just seems confident out there and he’s ripping it. … He’s grown a lot, even under Justin, and he’s kind of stepped outside of that shadow and he’s kind of added his own flavor to the offense.”
Former Oregon QB Dan Fouts was honorary captain for the Mighty Oregon team, while former offensive tackle Gary Zimmerman was captain of the yellow-clad Fighting Ducks team. Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota and numerous other alums, as well as a large group of potential recruits, were among the 35,111 at Autzen Stadium for the game.
Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said that things started to click for Shough in the offseason. Herbert’s backup last year, Braxton Burmeister, left Oregon for Virginia Tech in February.
“It definitely felt good,” Shough said about his performance Saturday. “It definitely felt more real than practice. Obviously I love playing football and being out there in front of everybody with our guys, was pretty special. It was super fun. Obviously there’s things that you want back, some scenarios, but overall I felt like the offense did a pretty good job.”
There was speculation Herbert may leave Oregon early to declare for the NFL draft, but he announced his intention to return shortly before the team’s 7-6 victory over Michigan State in the Redbox Bowl.