Not only did Thomas have a year of eligibility remaining at the program, most college football pundits did not see how his college statistics and skills could translate to the NFL.
His departure made way for a highly publicized quarterback battle between Bryan Bennett and Marcus Mariota that lasted from spring ball all the way up until a week before Oregon’s season opener against Arkansas State.
And so, just about a week before Oregon kicked off their 2012 college football campaign, Marcus Mariota was named the next starter of one of college football’s newest powerhouses.
Two games into the season, Mariota has looked the part of the next great Ducks quarterback. Just a redshirt freshman, Mariota has a skill set that mirrors players later on in their football development.
Mariota shined in his college football debut as he led the Oregon offense to touchdowns on his first seven drives, accumulating 200 yards through the air and three touchdowns.
Though he did not put up the spectacular statistics in the Ducks’ Fresno State game, Mariota was just as impressive as he completed 19 of 27 passes for 166 yards and one touchdown.
With two games under his belt, Mariota has completed 37 of 49 passes for 366 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions.
The kid can clearly play football.
Here is what to love about Oregon starting quarterback, Marcus Mariota.
As was documented above, Mariota has completed 37 of 49 passes he has thrown this year. While some of these are safe passes to get him comfortable throwing the ball against college football defenses, a 70.4 completion percentage is still an excellent statistic.
In his first game, Mariota showcased the ability to fit the ball into tight spots where only his receivers could catch the ball while also getting the ball to his playmakers efficiently.
Though it is still early on in his career, Mariota’s accuracy is something to rave about and something that should have Duck fans excited for years to come.
Just a redshirt freshman, Mariota has already demonstrated leadership qualities that will be essential in leading his talented team down the field.
Coaches and players alike have raved about his calm demeanor and leadership by example quality that can be hard to find in players such as young as himself.
He Can Take a Hit
Sure, your quarterback being sacked is not the greatest of things, but it was good to see that Mariota can bounce up from a hit as he was put on the ground three times in the Ducks’ contest against Fresno State.
Like past Oregon quarterbacks, Mariota will be exposed at times when he executes the read-option and will need durability to remain a healthy starter for the full season.
Being a read-option quarterback, Mariota has to keep the ball at times to really execute the offense the Ducks run.
Fortunately for the Ducks, Mariota has already shown his breakaway speed that he has become so heralded for during his time at Oregon. He is rumored to have around 4.4 speed and has showcased some of his athletic ability breaking runs to the outside.
Though he has not rushed too much yet, expect Mariota to really start showing off his legs as the Pac-12 Conference begins play.
Four Years Left to Play
That is right, Duck fans. Mariota has four years left of eligibility, including this season.
This means that there are plenty of great things to come for the Ducks in the future and that they will have quite an exciting player to watch develop into a great athlete.