Marcus Mariota is putting together the type of statistics that could get his name etched into Oregon’s record books.
As you scan his stats, try to remember that the Ducks’ starting quarterback is a redshirt freshman. You certainly wouldn’t know it by the way he plays, based solely on his talent and poise.
He showed off both yet again on Saturday night, piloting the second-ranked Ducks to a 62-51 victory over No. 18 USC in front of a sold-out Coliseum crowd of more than 93,000 in Los Angeles.
Mariota went a stunning 20-for-23 for 304 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions. He also carried 15 times for 96 more yards.
It was the latest in a season of big performances for the Ducks’ new quarterback, who has been simply superb this season in taking over for the departed Darron Thomas.
And with three regular-season games remaining, plus a Pac-12 Conference championship game, plus a bowl game, Mariota is on pace to get his name in the Ducks’ record book.
Afer Saturday’s game, Oregon’s ninth of the season, he has 1,787 passing yards and 22 touchdown passes, which averages out to 198.5 yards and 2.4 touchdowns per game.
If he meets those averages over the Ducks’ final five games, he’d finish with 2,780 yards and 34 touchdowns.
The yardage total would place him sixth all-time in Oregon history, bumping out Joey Harrington’s 2001 season in which he threw for 2,764 yards. The passing-touchdowns total would be the best in UO history, bettering by one Darron Thomas’ 33 TD passes last season.
If Mariota does meet those averages the rest of the way and land sixth on the Ducks’ single-season passing yardage list, he’d pass some pretty big names in UO history, including Harrington, Thomas (seventh-best with his 2011 total of 2,761 yards), Jason Fife (eighth, 2,752 yards in 2002), Bill Musgrave (ninth, 2,611 yards in 1990) and Tony Graziani (10th, 2,604 yards in 1995).
To crack that top 10, Mariota needs just 818 more yards, or an average of 163.6 over Oregon’s final five games.
The impressive passing totals and a blistering completion percentage of 70.5 (153-for-217) only tell part of the story of Mariota’s season, however.
He also doubles as a running back with blazing speed, having carried the ball 72 times for 474 yards and three touchdowns. As the season has progressed, so too has Mariota’s ability to make the right decisions on read-option plays, a major element of Oregon’s fast-paced, spread-option offense. Making the right reads and selling the play fakes were elements of the game that Thomas had mastered by the time he left Oregon a season early. We knew coming into this season that any new quarterback was going to need some time to get to that same level, with practice hardly being a substitute for game experience.
But Mariota has improved at a pace that belies his age — he turned 19 only just last week — and his experience. And that makes sense, considering that he leads the team as though he were a senior, never appearing rattled and generally smooth in his approach and delivery on the field.
If he keeps it up, he’ll find his name in the Oregon record books before the 2012 season is over.
Oregon vs USC boxscore
Oregon record book
Adam Sparks has been following Oregon Ducks football since 1990, and has written about the team as a freelancer since 2009.