Marcus Mariota is clearly the best of the best in terms of quarterbacks throughout the College Football League. Last Saturday when the Ducks took on Stanford, Mariota looked and played fantastic.
Going into the game, Oregon, especially Mariota, knew that Stanford had a stupendous defense that always seemed to stop the Ducks’ up-tempo offense in the past. Obviously, that wasn’t the case as the Ducks cruised by the Cardinal and ultimately finished the game strong with a 45-16 victory.
The intensity, mental toughness and leadership that Mariota exemplifies allow his teammates to flourish despite injuries to key players. When Oregon suffered their first loss of this season against Arizona, Mariota was stunned and disappointed that the Ducks didn’t prepare efficiently and possessed the mindset of “Win The Day.”
On Tuesday afternoon, FishDuck.com reporter McKalie Bellew caught up with Mariota to talk about the team after the Arizona loss and the Utah Utes match-up this Saturday.
After the Wildcats upset the heavily favored Ducks during week 5 of the season, a lot of questions were stirred up regarding the amount of preparation Oregon puts in each game.
When asked about how the Ducks are refocusing their mindset in preparation each week, Mariota emphasized that each player on the team “…has provided the effort and kept the intensity high during the week and made sure that whatever the game plan is, we’re executing it to the best of our ability.” Now that’s Ducks football right there!
Arizona might have handed Oregon its first loss and dropped them down in the rankings a couple weeks ago, but that doesn’t mean that the Ducks don’t have the potential to bounce back. Mariota’s comment shows how the Ducks are focusing heavily on preparation and relying on each week’s game plan as the key to success.
One of the most interesting aspects of Oregon the last two seasons is the fact that they have experienced difficult Novembers. That is when the Ducks have had trouble maintaining their status as an elite team.
When approached with the question of how the team this year differs in that regard compared to the previous two years, he said that the Ducks “…have learned a lot in terms of having a loss early in the year and experiencing failure and now that we have our backs against the walls, that’s going to give us the need to continue to fight.”
Well-said Heisman-hopeful Marcus Mariota. In the past two years the Ducks have experienced failure late in the season causing them to drop in the College Football Playoff rankings. However, according to Mariota, experiencing failure early allows the team to fight harder each game making up for their loss against Arizona.
Finally, Mariota was asked about what he expects from Utah this Saturday. He responded by saying: “The atmosphere is going to be unbelievable, we are going to have to be prepared for that. Upfront defensively they’re very good. They have a couple of the best pass rushers in the country.”
Wait, hold up. Mariota mentioned that the Utes have “…a couple of the best pass rushers in the country.” Clearly that’s not a good sign for Mariota as his offensive line is heavily banged up with injuries. This could allow Utah’s defense to stop Oregon’s spectacular run game lead by standout freshman Royce Freeman. Plus, atmosphere does play a significant role as the Utes home field, Rice-Eccles Stadium, sits at 4,657 feet above sea level. The Ducks should evidently be on high alert during this whole week in preparation of this game.
Oregon has three more regular season games which will serve as pivotal opportunities to prove to fans, doubters and football fanatics that they’re still the real deal. With that being said, a strong performance on Saturday would be a huge boost for Oregon as they chase a national championship.
Top Photo and Third Photo from Craig Strobeck
Second Photo from Kevin Cline