For whatever reason, Oregon Ducks sophomore quarterback Marcus Mariota doesn’t receive the same Heisman Trophy hype as his peers across the country who have dominated the conversation, guys like Louisville Cardinals QB Teddy Bridgewater, Ohio State Buckeyes QB Braxton Miller and Alabama Crimson Tide QB A.J. McCarron. If that doesn’t change after today’s dissection of the Tennessee Volunteers defense in a 59-14 Oregon blowout win, we all need to have our heads examined.
Mariota ripped apart the Vols’ secondary, throwing for 456 yards and four touchdowns, and running for another, showing a diverse and impressive skill set that could soon separate him from the rest of the country in the race for the game’s most coveted trophy. His arm is by far his best attribute, however, Mariota’s ability to shake down opposing defenders when forced to escape the pocket — which, with a dominant Ducks offensive line — isn’t too often, is also starting to turn the head not only of coaches across the Pac 12 Conference, but NFL scouts as well.
Through three games, the Ducks’ signal caller has accounted for 1,141 yards (252 on the ground, 889 through the air) and a total of 11 touchdowns (seven through the air, three on the ground), placing him among the national leaders in passing yardage and total touchdowns regardless of position. The Ducks will continue to score points in bunches throughout the 2013 season in a Pac-12 Conference that’s down overall, and doesn’t really present many daunting defenses for him to adjust to, apart from perhaps the Stanford Cardinal, who the Ducks face-off against on November 7th.
The Ducks are averaging a nation-leading 61.3 points per game, and 55-60 point performances promise to the be the norm for this offense rather than the exception to the rule. Under this scenario, obviously, Mariota will have many opportunities to light up the scoreboard and pad his individual stats on what could turn out to be one of the more impressive individual statistical seasons in recent college football history.
Sure, for Mariota to rise to the top of the leaderboard in the Heisman race, it’ll be necessary for guys like Bridgewater and Miller to slip a notch through some unexpected poor performances, but that’s something out of Mariota’s control. All he can do is continue lighting up the scoreboard, let the chips fall where they may, and let it all result in an increased visibility and respect from those who control who is named the nation’s best college football player.
And, I promise you, he’ll do just that.