Oregon Football: Mariota Needs to Play 60 Minutes Against Fresno State

Nathan LoweryCorrespondent ISeptember 5, 2012

EUGENE, OR - SEPTEMBER 1: Marcus Mariota #8 of the Oregon Ducks throws a pass in the second quarter against the Arkansas State Red Wolves on September 1, 2012 at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon.  (Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer/Getty Images)
Craig Mitchelldyer/Getty Images

As good as Marcus Mariota was against Arkansas State, he needs to be better.

The redshirt freshman who made his first career start Saturday night, and had a blast doing so, was pulled midway through the second quarter with the Ducks up 50-0.

Mariota had an impressive outing against the Red Wolves, going 18-of-22 for 200 yards and three touchdowns, while adding 24 yards on the ground, but frankly that's not good enough considering Oregon's goals for the season.

And let me explain that a little bit better. Considering he was pulled out of the game so early, Mariota's stat line is outstanding and he had a phenomenal game for his first start, but he played Arkansas State, not Arkansas.

A good Sun Belt team is nowhere near the skill of a great SEC team. It's like comparing a Ford and a Lincoln to quote Gerald Ford.

One of the main issues that made it OK with Duck fans to start a freshman with no experience over Bryan Bennett was the fact that he had three cupcake non-conference games to get his feet wet.

By pulling Mariota so early against the Red Wolves, Chip Kelly is not using his opening games to their full potential.

Yes, the Ducks were up by 47 points with two-and-a-half quarters left to play and didn't want to injure any of their starters, but leaving Mariota in for a little bit longer would not have been crippling.

Mariota needs experience, and what better way to earn it than by seeing as much field as he can against these lower ranked teams?

If the Ducks want to accomplish their season goals and meet the fan expectations of defeating USC and playing for another "natty," then they need their quarterback to be the best he can, and he can't be that standing on the sidelines.

Fresno State is the last chance for Oregon to give Mariota some serious playing time against a somewhat legitimate opponent. Use it.

I feel like I must end with this, however. Mariota is a great player and has a bright future ahead of him, but the kid needs experience. There's no debating that.