There I was, a bearded, 6’2″ man, who found himself sobbing (heavily might I add) seven rows back from the 25-yard line with roughly 12 minutes left in the fourth quarter. I cheered as loudly as I could while number eight hugged Jeff Lockie, then proceeded to walk off the field waving goodbye to the crowd. It was over. Marcus Mariota had, as we can only assume, played his last snap at Autzen Stadium. The redshirt junior still has the chance to stun the nation and return next year, but the Heisman hopeful and likely top three NFL pick will almost certainly be moving on to bigger and brighter things. All that’s left to say is thank you, Marcus. I only got to watch you for one year, one spectacular year, but you certainly did not disappoint.
With that out of the way, let’s get to the notes:
#1: Say it Ain’t So, Please Don’t Go
To the rest of the team, the seniors, thank you as well. That big Hawaiian guy might get a lot of the credit, but you all were leaders in the locker room, mentors on the field, and perfect models of how football players should behave both on and off the field (ahem, take notes FSU). This is clearly a team filled with love and respect for each other, perfectly exemplified by Dwayne Stanford wearing roommate and fellow teammate Pharaoh Brown’s No. 85. For the last time, the most successful senior class in team history graced Autzen, and how fitting it was for it to rain. But hey, as the saying goes, “It never rains in Autzen stadium.” Once and for all, thank you. Please, come back soon.
#2: It was Over When Colorado Scheduled the Game
This is no knock on Colorado. This Buffalo team deserved more credit than it was given, as they could’ve easily been 5-5 instead of 2-8 if it weren’t for late game miscues against UCLA, Cal, and Oregon State. Saturday though it just simply was the wrong time, the wrong place, and the wrong team. Mariota left it all on the field, and he didn’t disappoint. The highly decorated QB threw for 323 yards and three touchdowns, adding another on the ground to go along with 73 yards rushing. Oh, in three quarters by the way. He also managed a 75% completion percentage and an average of 10.1 yards per completion. In other words, he was super human. Colorado never stood a chance, and no amount of onside kicks could help them stop the hellstorm that was the Ducks’ offense yesterday afternoon.
#3: The Ducks Flew Around on Defense, and Hey Whaddya Know? It Worked!
The following notes come with an asterisk after them since it was Colorado, but boy the Ducks looked good on defense yesterday. They gave up only 226 total yards of offense to a team that normally averages 450, but what really jumped off the page was Colorado’s starting QB managing only 64 passing yards. Sure it was raining, but I mean, come on. That’s extraordinary. The one negative would be that they didn’t turn the Buffaloes over, but when you’re forcing a three-and-out on almost every drive turnovers aren’t really that easy to come by. Also, if the ball had bounced a different way when it slipped out of Colorado players’ hands the Ducks could have had up to three fumble recoveries, so sometimes it can just go down as being unlucky. However sometimes when you’re unlucky on one side of the ball, you catch a break on the other. Enjoy…
#4: It’s not too late, let Johnathan Loyd Return Kicks!
I get it, Charles Nelson is good, but Johnathan Loyd produced one of the most electrifying punt returns I’ve ever seen in my life. Forget the fact that it got called back, his ability to go from sideline to sideline in what appears to be a blink of an eye is De’Anthony-esque. The Senior only has a few games left, and after today he’s more than proven that he deserves some special teams playing time as the season winds down. Save Devon Allen and Charles Nelson for the offense, and let Loyd do his thing as a return man.
#5: Nit Picky, but Worth Noting
There weren’t any glaring negatives from the game, so instead here’s a short list of little, and I stress little things that could be tweaked to make the Ducks even better.
- Consistency with the kickoff. Matt Wogan got better toward the end of the game, but at the start not many of his kicks were making it past the ten-yard line. If he could start pinning teams back for touchbacks more consistently that would help tremendously.
- Work on defending the screen-pass. Colorado didn’t throw nearly as many of these as they should have, especially considering they got back-to-back first downs off screen-passes on an impressive first quarter drive.
- Mariota needs to work on short-arming/side-arming throws when he gets hurried. Again, the man is a real-life super hero, but every once in a while he will miss a wide open throw because he short-arms it when he feels pressure in the pocket. If he took that extra millisecond to go through the full throwing motion he would be able to put more on the ball instead of leaving it at the receivers feet. Since this is by no means a commonality though, it’s really not something the Ducks should be too worried about.
Top photo from Craig Strobeck