Mariota is in danger each time he decides to run.
Oregon’s most undervalued position is the backup quarterback. But how can a backup quarterback be an important player when he is not even playing?
With an offense such as the Ducks’ spread, the quarterback carries the ball an unusual amount of times compared to the classic I formation. Marcus Mariota had 752 rushing yards last season on an enormous 106 carries — tallying more carries than De’Anthony Thomas. With so many carries, the quarterback exposes himself to ruthless defenders vying to take him out, once and for all.
Mariota’s speed has allowed him to scamper out of bounds or slide when he sees impending doom. After seeing an increased number of carries, however, Mariota is flirting with danger every time he tucks the ball and runs. A mobile quarterback is crucial to a successful spread offense, so Mariota’s large amount of carries is not surprising. He must, however, keep in mind that extending a play with his legs might be a bad idea, especially after he has a first down. The longer he stays up and tries to extend a play with his feet, the more he is exposed – and the higher the probability of injury.
Backup quarterbacks Jake Rodrigues and Jeff Lockie are currently in a tight race for the second spot on the quarterback depth chart. Both quarterbacks have no college in-game experience, but if for some reason Mariota goes down (knock on wood he doesn’t) they’ll need to be ready to put on their helmets, and take over an offense which is heavily dependent on quick decisions made by the quarterback.