A quarterback change isn’t necessarily imminent, but UO coach Chip Kelly acknowledged concern about the Ducks’ passing game following their 31-24 victory over No. 18 Utah in their nonconference finale Saturday.
Masoli completed just 4-of-16 passes for 95 yards and threw an interception in the end zone against the Utes.
It’s unlikely the Ducks (2-1) would be able to net a victory with a similar passing performance against the Bears (3-0), the highest-ranked team to enter Autzen Stadium since No. 6 Arizona State on Nov. 3, 2007.
Kickoff is set for 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
The Ducks do not have a touchdown pass this season, and they rank 116th out of 120 FBS teams with a passing average of 126 yards per game.
“The reasons I stayed with Jeremiah (against Utah) is because he’s our quarterback and he gives us the best chance to win,” Kelly said in his Sunday conference call with reporters.
After reviewing film Sunday, Kelly labeled the passing game “inconsistent.”
“I’m confident we have the right personnel, but it’s always an area of concern,” he said. “We come in on Sunday and analyze every area of our offense. … We’ll continue to do it in practice; that’s the only place we can start. We’ll get back to work tomorrow morning.”
Kelly didn’t go so far as to say that Masoli’s starting job was in jeopardy, but he did open the door for the possibility of the rise of backup Nate Costa.
“Yeah, Nate has a shot to work his way up to No. 1 every week. …. There’s quarterback competition every week,” Kelly said.
While the passing game was in decline, the UO running game got a breakout performance by redshirt freshman LaMichael James in his first collegiate start.
James rushed for 152 yards on 27 carries and his first touchdown.
“He didn’t surprise me at all,” Kelly said. “I think he’s capable of doing that and even better than that.
“But it’s only one game. Let’s not put him in the hall of fame yet.”
The defense again carried the Ducks, forcing Utah quarterback Terrance Cain into two late interceptions to seal the Ducks’ second straight victory.
The last of those interceptions was by safety John Boyett, a redshirt freshman making his second start in place of injured senior T.J. Ward.
“John did a nice job,” Kelly said.
“Everybody on our defense did a nice job. He’s getting more confidence back there as he gets more experience.”
Among wide receivers, Kelly praised the perimeter blocking of Lavasier Tuinei and D.J. Davis, though neither had a reception.
Kelly said Ward (ankle) has yet to be cleared for full contact in practice. Nor has wide receiver Rory Cavaille (shoulder).
Kelly said there were no other injuries to report.
The Ducks received some votes but were not ranked in the AP poll released Sunday.
Utah fell out of the poll after its national-best 16-game winning streak ended.