Marcus Mariota has been excellent in his first year as the Oregon Ducks' starting quarterback, but an injury on Saturday night could cost the Ducks the leader of their fast-paced attack.
UPDATE: Sunday, November 11 at 12:21 a.m. ET by Ian Hanford
According to Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel, Mariota has returned to Saturday's game:
Mariota back in for Oregon.— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) November 11, 2012
---End of Update---
According to Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel, the signal-caller left the field favoring his arm in the second quarter of Oregon's game versus California:
Are you kidding me? Now Marcus Mariota is hurt. Ran off with a limp arm.— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) November 11, 2012
Mandel can't believe it because Kenjon Barner also left the game at one point, but he returned. Oregon can only hope that it's that lucky with Mariota as well.
The injury occurred as the dual-threat quarterback scrambled for yardage. He went to the turf, hit the ground awkwardly and was in obvious discomfort as he trotted to the sideline.
Mariota was 11-of-14 for 158 yards and a touchdown on Saturday before departing. He also had three carries for 25 yards. His versatility is a major reason that Oregon is nearly impossible to stop, essentially giving the Ducks an extra running back at all times.
Entering the game, the freshman had nearly 1,800 passing yards, 22 touchdowns and only five interceptions. He also had 474 rushing yards and three scores on the ground. It's not just about how dynamic he is, but he's grasped Chip Kelly's spread attack quickly, making excellent decisions consistently throughout the year.
Oregon does have Bryan Bennett to insert into the game. He does have two passing touchdowns this season, and he's also a threat with his legs. He also attempted 46 passes last year and threw for six touchdowns, so he's not completely inexperienced.
As good as the Ducks are at the skill position, losing Mariota would hurt in a big way. He's been a tremendous asset this season as a first-year starter, and being without him for any length of time would require an adjustment on Kelly's part. Expect more of Barner and De'Anthony Thomas if he's unable to go.
Stay tuned for updates.