Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 9/2/12

The man some media and fans are calling ‘Super Mario’ was just that — super — in his debut on Saturday night against Arkansas State.

Marcus Mariota, redshirt freshman from Honolulu, led No. 5 Oregon in rout to a three-touchdown performance, where he completed 18 of 22 passing attempts for 200 yards  as the Ducks downed the Red Wolves 57-34.

He started the game completing 12 of his first 13 attempts — with the only incomplete being dropped by Daryle Hawkins.

“Marcus really had command of our offense and it truly showed today. I am happy with his performance,” Oregon Head Coach Chip Kelly said. “Marcus showed a great deal of poise out there, it was really fun to watch him play tonight.”

Mariota’s start was the first for a freshman quarterback since Danny O’Neil started for Oregon in 1991.

“I was very nervous at the beginning, but after the first snap all my butterflies went away and I just played the game,” Mariota said. “It was surreal running through the tunnel for the first time. I am from a small school so it was a bit of a shock to run out to 60,000 screaming fans.”

Oregon’s two-back system looked strong even with the departure of Oregon’s all-time leading rusher, LaMichael James, who was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the second round of April’s NFL Draft.

De’Anthony Thomas finished the game with three touchdowns — including a pair of 12-yard receptions and a 33-yard touchdown run — and125 all-purpose yards.

“It was great, playing with this Oregon team,” Thomas said. “Offense is moving really well. We are definitely more of a tempo team and we have absolutely turned it up.”

Kenjon Barner ran for 66 yards and had two touchdowns before Kelly pulled his offensive starters with just over seven minutes remaining in the first half with a 50-3 lead.

Ryan Aplin, who was named last season’s Sun Belt Conference Player of Year and led the Red Wolves to 10 wins and a conference title, passed for 304 yards and three touchdowns.

Oregon scored touchdowns on the team’s first seven possessions, but its offense took a different pace as the second and third team units played.

Quarterback Bryan Bennett, who played well last season while last year’s start Darron Thomas was out, played just over two quarters and threw for 108 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

The Ducks were able to get playing time for a lot of players and 17 freshmen got playing time, including seven true freshman.

Oregon will host Fresno State next Saturday at 3:30 p.m.



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