The PAC-12 Championship between Oregon and Arizona was a battle of the babies, with both teams led by talented freshmen. Friday, the Ducklings crushed the Wildkittens, which is a great sign for Oregon’s future.
Arizona’s Anu Solomon (287 yards passing) and Nick Wilson (3 TDs, 92 yards on the ground) killed Oregon in the Wildcats’ upset victory last October. Friday, Oregon’s reinvigorated defense shut them up. Solomon left at halftime with only 34 yards passing and a shockingly low QBR of just 5.4, less than one tenth of Mariota’s 66.3. Wilson scraped together just 26 yards on 13 carries.
With all due respect to Jeff Lockie and potential incoming quarterbacks, fans have to wonder how Oregon will do after Marcus Mariota leaves, as he likely will this summer. Those worries are softened by the excellent offensive weapons any new QB will have around him.
Darren Carrington exploded for 126 yards and a touchdown. Charles Nelson? 104 yards receiving, 44 yards rushing and another 51 on two kick returns. Devon Allen? 46 yards and a touchdown. Kani Benoit rushed for 24 yards on 4 carries. And then there’s that Royce Freeman guy, having a quiet night (for him) with “just” 114 yards, to bring his freshman totals to 1,299 yards and 16 touchdowns. So far.
It’s often said that the quarterback in this offense just needs to be a point guard, dishing the ball to playmakers around him. Whoever replaces Mariota will have a lot of targets to feed the ball to.
Top photo by Kevin Cline
Mark Saltveit’s newest book is “Controlled Chaos: Chip Kelly’s Football Revolution” (Diversion Books, NY) has been recently released. He is the author of “The Tao of Chip Kelly” (2013) and writes on science, religion, wordplay and political scandals. He is also a standup comedian and the world palindrome champion.
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