People aren't talking about Marcus Mariota enough. With the freshman season he had, the numbers he produced and the record Oregon finished with, Mariota should be considered one of the top quarterbacks in the country.
Instead, he gets overshadowed by players like Johnny Manziel and Braxton Miller.
But while the rest of the world continues to sleep, it is time to see how Mariota stacks up against some of the other Oregon quarterbacks. No, it is not too early. The Ducks have had their fair share of successful signal-callers in the BCS era, but have never seen anything quite like this.
Mariota is a talented player and could establish himself as the best Oregon quarterback during the years of the BCS.
Running the Ball
It is safe to say that Oregon has not seen a quarterback as athletic and explosive as Mariota when running the ball. He is easily one of the fastest quarterbacks in the country and it's what helps separate him from the rest of the pack.
Simply judging by rushing statistics, Mariota has already made his mark in Oregon history.
Keep in mind that these numbers are with Mariota being pulled out of games once halftime arrived. Due to the Ducks having such a commanding lead on their opponents, Mariota usually only played about two quarters a game. In fact, 589 of those 752 rushing yards and five of his six rushing touchdowns came in the first half. Imagine what he would have been able to accomplish had he played all four quarters like most quarterbacks.
Being this explosive not only makes him more effective on the ground, but it also allows him to run this style of offense better than anyone else. The zone-read requires athleticism from the signal-caller, and this kind of elite speed and quickness is something the Ducks haven't seen before. Mariota makes quick decisions, finds the hole and then erupts with speed you would usually see from a running back.
Guys such as Darron Thomas, Jeremiah Masoli and Dennis Dixon were all athletic, but none were as special as Mariota. Thomas was a slow runner who only picked up what he could get, and Dixon was elusive but lacked straight-line speed. Masoli was a terrific runner in the open field, but didn't have the same field vision as Mariota. He also didn't have the ideal size to carry the load at just 5'11".
The burning speed, especially for a guy who stands in at 6'4", makes Mariota truly a special quarterback in the Oregon offense.
Mariota Throwing the Ball
In the Oregon offense where running the ball is the first priority, judging the passing game can be a little difficult. Quarterbacks in this offense aren't asked to throw the ball as much, and when they do, the statistics can be a little deceiving as a lot of the throws are on shorter routes.
But even when comparing Mariota to the top two Oregon passers of the BCS era, he once again passed the test with flying colors.
Mariota not only topped both Kellen Clemens and Joey Harrington in completion percentage and passing touchdowns, but he did a nice job of limiting his turnovers. What is fascinating about these statistics is that while Mariota clearly had the better debut season, those passing numbers are the most impressive the Ducks have seen in any campaign . Not Clemens, Harrington or any other Duck quarterback has had a better single-season throwing the football in the BCS era.
What separates Mariota from the other Ducks signal-callers is his poise and patience in the pocket. Although he is athletic and fast enough to make plays with his feet, Mariota isn't as anxious to take off and he always keeps his eyes downfield. As you can see in the video above, he does a nice job of rolling out of the pocket to avoid pressure and simply drops the ball off to a wide open Kenjon Barner. He doesn't panic and blow the play up by trying to do too much.
You can see Mariota has an open lane to pick up valuable yardage against Cal. He would have had to make a defender miss in the open field to score a touchdown, but most running quarterbacks would have taken the opportunity. Instead, Mariota steps up and throws a strike into the end zone.
Guys who have this much playmaking ability usually want to use it every chance they get. They also aren't as confident in their arm as they are in their legs. Mariota is a different breed and doesn't mind sitting back there and letting things come to him. This is why his passing numbers were so great and why he will continue to be an effective quarterback.
Note: All screenshots were pulled from YouTube video uploaded by user Madmike1951. All stats come from cfbstats.com and www.sports-reference.com/cfb/ unless otherwise noted. Graphs were made using onlinecharttool.com.
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