So here we are again. Preparing for a big home game against a competitive conference foe and wearing awesome new jerseys (as always). Although every game has the feeling of being a must-win, this game truly is what will make or break the Ducks season. If we lose, we’re out. There’s no way a two-loss team in this already stacked PAC-12 makes it to the playoff. If we win, we will have beaten two out of the three toughest defenses in the conference, with only Stanford left, and we prove that we can still win at home. It all comes down to this game, and as Marcus Mariota pointed out so appropriately, they still need to be better.
When asked about their practices this week, and what they’ve been working on the most, Mariota said, “Communication… We can’t over emphasize communication. Guys were lined up in the wrong spot.” Guys lining up in the wrong spot isn’t going to cut it. Offensive linemen not blocking their assignments won’t cut it either. Receivers running the wrong routes, missed tackles, fumbles, all of that which we’ve seen from our beloved Ducks in the past two games won’t cut it. UW is too good, their defense plays too hard, and linebacker Shaq Thompson won’t let us make any mistakes without paying for them.
When asked how the communication, as well as practice in general, was coming along, Marcus said,” It’s been a good week”. He did go on to say however that plenty of mistakes were still made, but he attributed that to “The way we practice…because we play so fast”. For Mariota, these issues are little compared to what else he has to work on though. He said, “I think I’ve done a better job at [managing turnovers and improving accuracy]” but he also feels he needs to be doing more. He believed that his “vocal leadership has come a long way”, but that if the team is going to really achieve success this season he still needs to get better.
Mariota also has other issues to worry about though. With Toddy Gurley, star RB for Georgia, and FSU QB Jameis Winston both under serious investigation about illegal signing of memorabilia, Marcus is on edge. He said signing gear for fans is “something that you should do as an athlete” because “people look up to you as a role model”. However he made it very clear that he is extremely careful about what he signs, and who he is signing it for. According to Mariota, ”There’s a lot of tips the University has educated us about…and they go over things like signing autographs.” Mariota recognized how beneficial autographs are, because as a kid he cherished his Reggie Bush and Michael Vick autographs, but as of right now he is wary of the dangers that autographs can present. As of right now though, Marcus is doing his best to focus on the issue at hand: beating those pesky Huskies.
Top Photo by Kevin Cline