(Photo from Pac-12.com)
touchdowns, zero turnovers.
That’s just part of Marcus Mariota’s video game-like stats to start this 2013 college football season.
His full stat line reads like this (through five games):
76-for-134 (56 percent) | 1,358 yards passing | 14 passing touchdowns | 0 interceptions
28 carries | 388 yards rushing (13.8 YPC) | 7 rushing touchdowns | 0 fumbles
Nicholls State, Virginia, Tennessee, California, Colorado.
It’s not good, we get that, but if you’re doing what you’re suppose to against the weaker opponents, then why should observers hold it over your head? Three out of his next four games are at Washington and home versus UCLA and at Stanford. Washington’s defense is ranked 11th, UCLA’s 30th and Stanford’s 36th. Mariota will get his chance to play against good opponents; he’s just torching the bad ones right now, and frankly, I’m impressed. I’m not impressed by the yards, but rather the TD/turnover ratio, which is 21:0. If prospects want to get drafted as quarterbacks, don’t turn the ball over.
As a passer
In Oregon’s offense, everything is about tempo and rhythm; if the QB doesn’t have those in sync, the completions drastically drop. You see this in the first quarter of the Oregon vs. Tennessee game (below). There’s a stretch on Tennessee’s 20-yard line where Mariota overthrows three receivers in a row. With Oregon running such a speedy first-read offense, bad timing equals bad results.
One would think that an offense like Oregon’s wouldn’t show much translation to the NFL (except Chip Kelly in Philly), but Mariota does a nice job of showing he’s more than just “the next Oregon QB” — he shows NFL promise.
He doesn’t take many snaps under center, so that’s a bit of a knock on him, but he stands tall in the pocket and delivers on-target passes with zip on a consistent basis. He likes to move on the run, but whenever he can he remembers to plant his feet. I don’t see that very often from scrambling QBs. Mariota keeps the ball shoulder high and has a quick release — it’s actually impressive how much velocity he can get with such a quick motion. My only concern with him is the practice he gets truly reading defenses and going through progressions. With Oregon, it’s either first read or run. Route progression and the ability to go through reads on a play-by-play basis is a must for a successful NFL QB.
As a runner
Mariota is smart with the read option; most of Oregon’s plays involve some sort of read option or play action. His mobility is mostly used to open up passing windows as opposed to gaining yards on the ground. He has no problem leaving the pocket, but he doesn’t seem to have a negative tendencies running out of the pocket or staying put. He’s also not deceptively fast — he’s just plain fast. He’s been clocked in the 4.4 range in the 40-yard dash, and that’s just scary for a guy with his arm talent.
There’s been a lot of talk lately about how many QBs from the 2014 class can be graded as first round players — some scouts say it’s as many as nine. I don’t think the final number will be that high, but from the looks of Mariota’s skills, I’d say he’s one of them. If Thanksgiving rolls around — after Oregon plays Stanford — and Mariota’s efficiency is anywhere near where it is now, he might be playing for a Heisman trophy along with a Top 10 selection.
(via draft breakdown)