Originally posted on The Duck Stops Here  |  Last updated 8/12/13
Often when Duck fans talk about Marcus Mariota and his potential to be great in his second year of starting, they understandably talk about his ability to throw the football. The disciplined 6-4 slinger from Hawaii is a terrific passer. He delivers the ball quickly and accurately, putting it in good spots that allow his receivers the opportunity to make extra yards after the catch. He has tremendous touch and can make every kind of throw: the quick zip, get-it-out-of-your hand toss on the bubble screen or slant, the frozen rope on intermediate routes, the fade, the beautifully-arced, perfectly-timed rainbow to an open receiver deep. He even has the good sense to take a little off the ball on swing passes to a running back, laying it out softly so it's easy to handle. Go speed racer: Mariota takes off for an 86-yard touchdown against Arizona State, October 18, 2012. In the second half of the season the first-year starter had long runs of 86, 58, 77, 42 and 32 yards, with four of his five rushing tds (Otto Greule jr., Getty images).  As a passer Mariota has good vision and judgment, improving all the time. It's been pointed out multiple times by multiple people that in his first year starting as a redshirt sophomore he threw just one interception in the second half of the season, and only six total for the year, while throwing 32 td passes, the second most by a freshman quarterback in NCAA history after Sam Bradford in 2007. Bradford won the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore. And Super Mario can do something Sam Bradford can't dream of doing. He's a threat to run for a touchdown every time he carries the ball. When he pulls, when the defense overcommits to stopping Byron Marshall, De'Anthony Thomas or Thomas Tyner, Mariota can burn them for a big gain.    In the off season, the sensational sophomore has done everything right. There are no photos of him signing autographs in a hotel room or holding two bottles of liquor with a blonde hanging off either thigh. He's quietly done his work and committed himself to becoming more assertive and being a more vocal leader. He's gained another 5-10 pounds of good weight, and appears to be handling the attention and expectations with his typical humility, deflecting praise to his teammates. The former St. Louis Crusader is poised for a big year. Stanford coach David Shaw calls him, "The most complete quarterback in the nation." Helfrich and Frost will feature him more in his second season. He has his top six receivers returning with two or three sleek, fast additions to the corps. New receivers coach Matt Lubick has tightened their technique and fundamentals, improved their skillset in getting open and recognizing coverage. And when things break down or the defense overcommits, Mariota can make a big play with his feet. He's a great judge of when to run and when to keep a play alive, making the defense defend one more player, a 6-4, laser-armed passer who also has the ability to run for 80 yards and a score. He's a freakish combination of intelligence, leadership, maturity and ability, and the perfect triggerman for the Oregon offense. Captain Comeback thinks so. He called him "scary good."   Mariota won't run all the time or carry the football 25 times in a game. But he's smart and decisive keeping the football, good at protecting himself, and the threat is always there. He makes the defense defend the entire field on every down. His ability to run completes the picture.
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