Oregon Ducks Football

Marcus Mariota's Heisman Hopes Won't Suffer After De'Anthony Thomas' Injury

Sep 14, 2013; Eugene, OR, USA; Oregon Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) before the game against the Tennessee Volunteers at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports
Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports
Matt FitzgeraldCorrespondent IIISeptember 29, 2013

Oregon Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota may be without a key playmaker in De'Anthony Thomas after the running back suffered a leg injury on the opening kickoff against the California Golden Bears on Saturday night:

However, Thomas' absence hasn't hurt Oregon's offensive production in the Pac-12 opener, as the Ducks carried a 41-3 lead into halftime in Eugene, Ore., with Mariota accounting for three total touchdowns.

Mariota's Heisman Trophy campaign also won't be harmed if Thomas is out of action for next week's game against Colorado, who sport the 91st-ranked scoring defense in yielding 31.7 points per game.

The sophomore signal-caller can make the requisite throws to exploit defenses that try to stuff the box against Oregon's lightning-quick, up-tempo rushing attack. As dynamic as Mariota is in the open field as a ball-carrier, he entered the Cal game having averaged 10.84 yards per pass attempt in 2013.

Sep 28, 2013; Eugene, OR, USA; Oregon Ducks running back De'Anthony Thomas (6) during pre game warm up against the California Golden Bears at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports
Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

That statistic showcases Mariota's ability to stretch the field vertically and how he gives defenses nightmares in play-action situations, where throwing windows grow enormous.

Mariota notched 11 total touchdowns in the first three games of the season, and is No. 1 on ESPN.com's Heisman watch list. Nothing he's done to date should change that ranking.

At 5'9" and 175 pounds, Thomas' small stature is an advantage in running behind bigger linemen, and it makes his elusiveness in the open field seem all the more sudden.

Thomas is an intriguing talent, but the Ducks have a deep backfield headlined by Byron Marshall—who ran for 103 yards and two TDs in the first half against Cal—and Thomas Tyner.

As long as that duo can keep the momentum going and run the system well, Mariota will continue operating the offense at a high level and be a prime contender for the Heisman Trophy.



Where can I comment?

Stay on your game

Latest news, insights, and forecasts on your teams across leagues.

Choose Teams
Get it on the App StoreGet it on Google Play

Real-time news for your teams right on your mobile device.

Copyright © 2017 Bleacher Report, Inc. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved. BleacherReport.com is part of Bleacher Report – Turner Sports Network, part of the Turner Sports and Entertainment Network. Certain photos copyright © 2017 Getty Images. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of Getty Images is strictly prohibited. AdChoices