Can a freshman win the Heisman trophy?
That may be the question on everyone’s mind after first year quarterback Marcus Mariota led the 5th ranked Oregon Ducks to a resounding 57 to 34 victory over visiting Arkansas State.
Mariota, a freshman from Hawaii, showed great poise in leading the high-powered Duck offense to 50 points in less than two quarters. Oregon held such a commanding lead that Mariota and the first string offense were pulled from the game in the middle of the second quarter.
Still he managed to throw for 216 yards on 19 of 23 passing. Mariota finished with three touchdown passes and zero interceptions in his first ever college start. Imagine what his stats might have been if he had played the whole game.
Of course Mariota had some offensive help. Running back Kenjon Barner scored two touchdowns and rushed for 66 yards on 9 carries. De’Anthony Thomas also had an explosive night on offense as both a rusher and receiver. Thomas finished with 119 combined rushing and receiving yards and multiple touchdowns.
Yet it was Mariota’s performance that stole the show. Whether in the pocket or on the run, his passes were crisp and on-target. After his opening night performance it is hard to imagine that for a while there was speculation about who the Ducks starting quarterback might be, Mariota or sophomore Bryan Bennett. Saturday night’s stats should put that debate to rest.
The Ducks annihilated Arkansas State and after #4 Oklahoma’s tough 24-7 win over UTEP, Oregon could rise in the rankings. Their success this year could continue to rise on the passing shoulders of Mariota.
You’re going to want to learn his name quick. We’re going to be talking about Marcus Mariota and the Oregon Ducks all season long. If he keeps playing like he did in his college debut, this Hawaiian could spark legitimate Heisman buzz.