Ducks haven't yet tabbed starting QB
EUGENE — Willie Taggart isn't in a rush to name a new starting quarterback.
"We still have (practices through Friday)," Oregon's first-year coach noted. "And we have a late game, so we have all day Saturday. ...
"It depends on how those guys progress throughout the week."
Fifth-year senior Taylor Alie and true freshman Braxton Burmeister are competing to take over for Justin Herbert, who is out indefinitely with a fractured collarbone.
Oregon hosts No. 11 Washington State at 5 p.m. Saturday at Autzen Stadium.
During his career as a backup, Alie has completed 21 of 34 passes for 211 yards with one touchdown and one interception. The former Sheldon High standout has also rushed for 187 yards and four touchdowns.
Coaches and teammates say game experience is about the only difference between Alie and Burmeister in practice.
"I have no doubt and everyone else believes they're going to make big plays when their time is called," tight end Ryan Bay said. "We're all confident and comfortable with whoever is back there.
"Up front we've got to make sure we take responsibility and execute our run game with passion to make sure they're comfortable in the pocket."
The good news for the healthy quarterbacks: Royce Freeman is back.
Freeman, who left last week's 45-24 win over California in the first quarter after landing on his shoulder, has returned to practice. The senior has rushed for 592 yards this season and leads the FBS with 10 rushing touchdowns.
Taggart said Freeman wanted to go back into the game against the Bears.
"It all starts with the run game — we know that," running backs coach Donte Pimpleton said. "I preached that to them even when Justin was playing. We have to be able to run the ball, we have to run well."
Kani Benoit finished with 138 yards rushing and two touchdowns, and Tony Brooks-James had 76 yards and a touchdown off the bench against Cal. True freshman Darrian Felix added even more depth, finishing with 27 yards and a touchdown in his Oregon debut.
Taggart said Herbert can still have a leading role on the team while he's recovering, if the soft-spoken signal caller chooses to do so.
"I want Justin to do whatever Justin wants to do. I want him to get healthy, rehab, and I know he will be a great teammate," Taggart said. "If he wants to help his teammates out, I'm sure he'll do it. If he wants to sit back and watch and cheer all of his teammates on, I'm sure he'll do that as well. Justin's going to be Justin."
Herbert has completed 68.3 percent of his passes for 1,264 yards with nine touchdowns and two interceptions this season.