Originally written on The Duck Stops Here  |  Last updated 11/6/14

Upon further review, and no matter how you pronounce it, Marcus Mariota was dazzling and almost flawless in his debut as the Oregon quarterback.

He completed 18-22 passes for 200 yards and 3 touchdowns, and three of the four incompletions were drops.

In Mariota, Chip Kelly has a new kind of weapon. For the first time as head coach he has a passer who can run, rather than a game manager (Darron Thomas) or a runner who could throw a little (Jeremiah Masoli). Mariota, already nicknamed "Super Mario" by some and "8MM" by others, is faster than either of them and a better thrower than anyone the Ducks have had in a long, long time.

photo right: Marcus Mariota might be the youngest quarterback in Oregon history, but he had the best debut in an Oregon uniform since Amanda Pflugrad (bleacherreport.com photo).

Because he throws with great touch, matching the velocity to the type of throw required, he sets up his receivers well. Passes are in stride, on time. It makes them easier to handle and gives receivers an opportunity to adjust to the ball, make the catch and run with the football. Because he possesses great vision, recognition, study habits and intelligence, he'll excel at finding the open man and getting the ball out quickly.

As Mariota becomes even more comfortable and in command operating the offense, fans will see a new evolution in the Oregon spread. Oregon doesn't enjoy a power back with LaMichael James' tenacity running inside, although Barner and Thomas will both be far more effective between the tackles than opponents expect. But Mariota's ability to spread the defense and exploit openings with his arm take a lot of pressure off the running game. He can get the ball to playmakers with a variety of safe, simple throws, and already he's shown the courage and confidence to zip the ball into a tight window when required. Defenses, already overmatched by the pace and relentless execution of the Ducks up-tempo attack, now have the added pressure of defending the whole field at once. In high school, the Hawaiian phenom showed he could throw the football 65 to 70 yards in the air, and 45-50 on the run, with trajectory and accuracy. 

Pretty exciting stuff. 14-0, 4000 yards and 40 touchdowns, though not expected, are not out of reach. 

Of course the next step is to deliver another consistent and focused performance against Fresno State. Cool, poised and precise, it's very likely the Ducks emerging leader will do exactly that.

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