While most eyes were on the showdown in College Station, Mariota and Company were putting on a show of their own. After a rough first quarter- complete with incomplete passes, penalties and giving up a the game’s first touchdown to the Vols, the Ducks stepped up in typical fashion and slapped Tennessee 59-14- its biggest loss since 1910.
So what did we learn from this, for lack of a better word, blowout? Quite a bit.
1. The Ducks have a passing game. Over the past few years, the Ducks have been known mostly for their run game with a string of duel-threat quarterbacks and running back stars like Johnathan Stewart, Lamichael James, Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas. Today, however, they showed they can move the ball through the air- something I have personally been expecting for several months. It took a bit for Mariota and his team of receivers to connect, partially because of breakdowns in the O-line, but once they found a rhythm, there was no stopping them. Mariota threw for a career high 456 yards. To put that in perspective, that’s almost as much as the first two games combined (473).
2. Colt Lyerla’s back-up is good. Really, really good.
When starting Tight End, Colt Lyerla couldn’t play in today’s game due to what Coach Helfrich referred to as “circumstances”, his Freshman back-up, Johnny Mundt, stepped in, providing a first quarter a much-needed momentum-shift score. He would go on to score a second time later in the game, grabbing the attention of Duck fans everywhere. I suppose if those “circumstances” continue, we’ll all sleep a little better at night.
3. Mariota deserves more credit. Yes, I’m on the bandwagon again. I can’t tell you how many texts I had and how many comments I heard from media pundits about how “Marcus just isn’t the same as last year”. I hope they’ve changed that tune now. While lil’ Johnny and A.J. McCarron battled it out for ESPN’s College Gameday, Mariota humbly tied and broke records on the field, gave thumbs up signs and said “thank you” to compliment giving fans. After the game, he responded to Heisman talk, saying he hadn’t paid attention to numbers and views the Heisman chatter as “outside noise”, mainly because it’s about “individual accolades”. He again gave credit to his teammates and made it clear it was team accomplishments that mattered most to him. Don’t worry Marcus, we’ll keep track of the numbers for you. All the way to NYC.
4. Penalties need to be cleaned up.
The penalty woe’s got a little better in the second half, but the first half was a bit messy. These kind of things have a tendency to work themselves out as the season goes on, but for now I suspect some clean-up work will be done in bye week. The Ducks have to have something to work on anyway right?
5. The Ducks can compete with the SEC.
Of course, Tennessee isn’t the shining, golden star of the SEC, but they are from the SEC no less. With today’s very dominate win, the Ducks should have earned some East Coast street cred I will not be a bit surprised to see the Ducks earn some first place votes tomorrow. In the words of today’s Autzen crowd, “We want ‘Bama”! Don’t you worry, those ‘Bama boys probably want us as well.
That’s it for now Duck Fans. Enjoy the Bye week and make sure to check out some other games across the Pac-12. You didn’t know I was going to give you homework did you?
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