Marcus Mariota and the Oregon Ducks rolled to another easy victory in their young 2012 football season, upending visiting Fresno State 42-25. The 4th ranked Ducks improved to 2-0 with the win.
In just his second start for the U of O, Mariota threw for 166 yards on 19 of 27 passing. While this was a solid performance, his stats did drop from last week. In his quarterback debut he passed for more than 200 yards versus Arkansas State.
Against the FSU Bulldogs, Oregon’s running game set the tone and established the early lead. The Ducks’ two leading running backs, Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas combined for more than 300 yards on the ground. In addition, Thomas scored the first touchdown on a 39 yard scamper into the end zone.
Still Mariota remains a force to be reckoned with. After two games he has amassed nearly 400 yards and four touchdowns in the air. However, if the 6’4”, 211 pound quarterback wants to continue to be a Heisman trophy candidate I see four challenges that lie ahead. Let’s call them the 4 Fs.
*FRESHMAN: Mariota is a redshirt freshman from Hawaii. For a first year quarterback to be considered for the Heisman, his numbers will have to be more stellar than solid.
*FOES: So far the Ducks have played lesser-known opponents. Arkansas State and Fresno State aren’t high on anyone’s list of tough competitors. While Mariota will need to shine in every game to keep the Heisman spotlight alive, he absolutely must rise to the occasion and have standout play against tougher teams like USC and Stanford.
*FUMBLES: FSU caused Mariota to fumble twice. The Ducks are likely to face tougher defenses in the future and if he wants to successfully lead the Oregon offense he will need to demonstrate better ball carrying skills.
*FRONTRUNNERS: By this, I mean the Oregon runners, the running backs. If Thomas and Barner continue to light up the scoreboard and statistic sheets, Mariota’s talents may get lost in the shuffle.
Whether or not Mariota remains in the Heisman huddle, he is off to a decent start for the Ducks. If he continues to lead them to victory, the 4 Fs may become pleasing his fans, family, friends and football team.