Up until a couple weeks ago, the Oregon Ducks seemed to be a lock for the National Championship. They were putting up massive points and beating every team by wide margin. The Ducks have been led in their success by their touchdown-throwing quarterback Marcus Mariota.
Until the loss to Stanford, Mariota was a legitimate contender in the Heisman race. He hadn’t thrown an interception all year until they faced Arizona and Oregon State, throwing two interceptions in each of those contests. However, when you look at it, it was the 11th and 12th game of the year; it doesn’t really blemish Mariota’s accomplishment too much. He’s had more total yards this year, with a comparison of 2,677 to 3,412.
Through his two-year starting career at Oregon, Mariota has thrown for 6,089 yards, 62 touchdowns, and only 10 INTs. Those are pretty good numbers for only two years. Mariota’s also been through a coach change, from Chip Kelly to Mark Helfrich, which isn’t really easy for any player. Also, Mariota’s rushed for 1,334 yards over his two-year career.
Oregon has fallen apart in the last four weeks, losing to Stanford after a fourth quarter comeback, then blowing past Utah, losing to Arizona, then in the final seconds winning on a touchdown pass against Oregon State; Mariota should take all the blame for this inconsistency. He never fell below 50.0 completion and although his only interceptions came in the last two regular season games, that’s no reason to dismiss his great leadership skills.
Mariota is definitely a leader that the players, coaches and fans can rally around. Now, Mariota has another chance to win a Heisman, and the Oregon Ducks will have another good shot at a National Championship.