It’s hard to define the Oregon Ducks offense by signaling out just one player, but the way Marcus Mariota has performed over the last two years and especially since the start of this season makes it seem like he just might be the best quarterback in the nation, and the leading candidate right now to win the Heisman trophy.
Oregon beat Tennessee 59-14 in what was a huge win for those who claim the SEC isn’t really as good as its cracked up to be, and there isn’t a lot hiding beneath the security blanket provided by Alabama and the rest.
Among all the standouts and the offensive brilliance for Oregon, Marcus Mariota stood tall above the rest. The sophomore quarterback threw four touchdown passes and ran for another, finishing with a total of 483 yards with his arm and feet, as Oregon posted once again incredible offensive numbers, only this time against a very worthy opponent.
The QBR system used by ESPN shows Mariota is close to flawless this season, finishing with 96 or higher in all three games this season. With a total QBR of 97.4, he has the second highest through his team’s first 3 gamesin the last 10 seasons, trailing only Russell Wilson’s 98.6 through Wisconsin’s first 3 games in 2011.
We tried to set up something early with our formations to validate some of the things we had in the back of our mind, and our passing game came alive. We didn’t plan on throwing so much. Things opened up for us, it happened and we went for it.
They finished with an offensive EPA of +39.4, meaning their offense contributed nearly 40 net points toward the 45-point victory. Their average offensive EPA of +33.4 per game is the 3rd-highest among any FBS team through the first 3 games of the year in the last 10 seasons, with the previous two wins coming against Nicholls State and Virignia.
It’s always easy standing out with De’Anthony Thomas at your side. The Junior, who might be the most explosive athlete in College Football over the last two years finished with 86 yards on 13 carries (one touchdown), and catching one more pass for 28 yards. He returned two more kicks for 58 yards, finishing a strong day to continue a very strong season.
He has scored five touchdowns already, despite touching the ball only 31 times on his combined rushes & receptions, meaning he scores a touchdown every 6.1 touches on the ball, putting him way ahead of the competition when it comes to scoring efficiency, which he has led in the NCAA for the last three years with 7.3 touches needed for every touchdown.
Oregon aren’t in the clear yet. There’s Stanford on the schedule, and playing Oregon State is always a tough one, while a visit to Washington and playing UCLA seems tougher than before. But for those wanting to see Oregon finally play Alabama and show just how an SEC powerhouse can handle the most impressive offensive unit in the nation, this schedule provides enough of a cushion to finish the season undefeated, and possibly bring the show Mariota, Thomas and the others are running to the BCS’ biggest stage, possibly this time doing better than they did in 2010.