For long-time Duck fans, hearing the praise of the Oregon quarterback was fun from a group that has not always been as complimentary of Oregon as the writers on FishDuck.com and you are. They also provided some insights about defending him and how other players may view him.
Rece Davis asked fellow ESPN sportscasters Jesse Palmer and Danny Kanell, “If you’re the Florida State defense … what’s the one thing you want to try to take away from Mariota?”
Kanell answered, “I would agree with Jesse and try to keep him [Mariota] in the pocket. That is one area where Marcus Mariota is under-rated. Thirty-eight touchdowns to two interceptions is just phenomenal when you look at the numbers. He is dangerous, and when your secondary guys have to cover longer, it is a losing proposition.
“Keep him in the pocket, try to harass him, and try to get pressure on him. Ideally in a perfect world, you can pressure him with four and still have seven in coverage … but that’s a perfect world.”
Kirk Herbstreit spoke about the weaknesses of the Florida State defense, and the problems the Oregon offense and Mariota present. “I’m concerned about the edges; it has been a concern for Florida State all year — being able to contain speed and get outside and between Freeman running into the interior and what Mariota can do to the outside … the jet sweep to the outside, the quick throws to the outside, the look passes — they’re [Oregon] going to test the Florida State edges a lot.
“I’m just anxious to see what Charles Kelly (DC for FSU) will put together to try to contain, to try to squeeze Mariota, which is much easier said than done. Once Oregon gets those quick throws going, they set up the pump and go. They test your discipline as well, which has been another problem from time to time for the Florida State defense.”
ESPN sportscaster David Pollack has been a critic of Oregon football over the years and his comments about Mariota started with the mindset that the Oregon coaching staff may have as it approaches the Playoff game with Florida State. “Once you get to the Playoff season and you got a guy like Mariota, what would scare me playing against him is now they’re going to run him, because it is do-or-die,” Pollack said.
“He doesn’t run the football a lot; he doesn’t take a lot of shots.” (Herbstreit interjects, “Out of necessity”). Pollack nods in agreement and says, “Because it is necessity time.” Pollack continues, “The dude is a freak-show as he’s 6’4, 225 lbs and he breaks tackles and is as fast as anyone on the field. Nobody can catch him when he breaks loose.”
Herbstreit offers more thoughts when he stated, “I don’t think people understand how fast he is until they get on the field with him. He’s so long [stride] that the Florida State secondary looking at him is thinking,’Its OK, he’s not that fast,’ and then zing — it’s goodbye!”
Panelist Joey Galloway explained, “It is hard to harass a QB and contain him. If your defensive linemen are in lanes, then there are offensive linemen between them and the quarterback. Harassing and containing and keeping him in the pocket sounds like a good idea and it sounds doable, but that is a tough thing to do with the best athlete that will be on the field.”
For me that was one of the most interesting and enjoyable segments by ESPN about Oregon football in a very long time. I *heart* Marcus!
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