Fiesta Bowl 2013: Comparing Quarterbacks Marcus Mariota and Collin Klein

Lisa Horne@LisaHornePac-12 and Big 12 Lead WriterDecember 12, 2012

Jan 2, 2012; Glendale, AZ, USA; Detailed view of the winners trophy on the sidelines of the game between the Stanford Cardinal against the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the 2012 Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium. Oklahoma State defeated Stanford 41-38 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

One of the more intriguing bowl matchups of the 2012 season is Oregon vs. Kansas State in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. 

Both teams have superb quarterbacks who can both run and pass the ball, but each one has his own unique style. 

Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein is 6'5", 226 pounds and 23 years old. The senior was a Heisman finalist, finishing third behind Heisman winner Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M and Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o.

Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota is 6'4" and 196 pounds. While he needs to bulk up, he's got a lot of time to do just that—he's only 19 years old. The redshirt freshman has tremendous speed and throws a very accurate ball. He was the most accurate passer in the Pac-12, completing 69.9 percent of his throws. 

Mariota throws a different type of ball than Klein. Mariota's passes tend to stay in the air longer and have less zip than Klein's. Both quarterbacks throw well from either the pocket or on the run.  

Below is a video of Mariota's highlights in Oregon's game against Arizona. Keep your eye on the time the ball is in the air. 

Now compare Mariota versus Collin Klein in the video below. 

Both Klein and Mariota are excellent runners. But again, they differ in style. 

Mariota operates out of a spread offense so the gaps between the offensive linemen are much wider than in a traditional offensive line scheme. Because of that spread, Mariota can wear out linemen chasing him due to the harder angles they must take to tackle him. In essence, Mariota runs more east-west than north-south to take advantage of the linemen having to cover more yardage to make a tackle. 

Conversely, Klein is more of a north-south runner, but he does cut inside after hitting the line. Klein has decent speed but it's deceptive—because of his size, he doesn't look like he runs very fast but he gains more yardage than a typical tailback because of his long stride. One step by Klein can chew up multiple yards. 

To really see the difference in their running styles, two videos below capture each quarterback rushing for a touchdown.

Mariota uses his burst of speed on the outside to make linebacker Darryl Monroe (No. 13) miss a tackle.

Klein uses his deceptive speed to score a touchdown despite the obvious speed advantage TCU safety Elisha Olabode (No. 6) has—by the time he realizes that Klein is in scoring position, it's too late to stop him. 

The Fiesta Bowl will pit two very different types of quarterbacks against each other who still have a few things in common.

Mariota and Klein can burn defenses via either the ground or the air. Both of them are also coached by brilliant minds.

But more than anything else, Marcus Mariota and Collin Klein are winners.


The Fiesta Bowl will be played on January 3, 2013 at 8:30 PM (ET) and will be televised by ESPN.