On a night when Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota may have secured himself in Oregon history by staking his claim on the Heisman trophy, the Ducks’ 47-19 Civil War victory over rival Oregon State served as a display of far more than just one player.
Although he was the top performer Saturday night, Mariota quickly deflected any questions regarding college football’s most prestigious trophy for an individual and gave all the credit to his teammates following the game.
“This is a team sport and without those guys, we wouldn’t be where we are at today,” Mariota said. “We have so many dynamic players and guys up front that are solid — hats off to those guys. They really are the offense and how we play goes to them.”
Mariota accumulated 406 yards of total offense with six touchdowns (four passing, two running) but it was Byron Marshall, Royce Freeman, a solid offensive line and others who also had standout performances.
“I feel like we are playing great offense — there’s also things we can work on in practice before an upcoming game but we are hitting on a lot of cylinders right now,” Freeman said. “It’s good to have all the weapons but to all click at the same time, that’s the key factor.”
Marshall led all receivers with 131 yards on six catches with a touchdown while Freeman added 135 yards rushing on 22 carries.True freshman Charles Nelson got in on the mix too, with both of his catches going for touchdowns as the Ducks racked up 565 yards of total offense and 26 first downs.
“I think we are really clinking on all the cylinders,” Marshall said. “Everyone is coming out excited and ready to play — we just want to get after the next team we play, doesn’t matter who it is.”
“It’s a great feeling to see our skill players make plays,”offensive lineman Hamani Stevens added. “Although we don’t get the ball or the glory, it’s a good feeling to seem them make plays and get touchdowns.”
Led by Devon Allen, Dwayne Stanford and Pharaoh Brown, Oregon has six players who have at least four receiving touchdowns on the year now. Add in Freeman’s 16 rushing touchdowns and Marshall’s 11 rushing scores, the Ducks are as balanced on offense as any other team in the nation.
“We just really try to come out and execute and play a perfect game — make sure to keep it rolling for the next weeks to come,” Marshall said. “It does’t matter who’s scoring, we’re doing it as a team and that’s what matters.”
Allen started out the year on a tear with five touchdowns in the team’s first four games but gave way to the prowess of Freeman running the ball and Brown catching the ball over the middle part of the season. Now, with Brown out for the year, Nelson has filled a void for the Ducks and his four touchdowns on five catches over the past two games proves it.
“It’s a big deal going out there and being able to contribute to the team,” Nelson said. “Us young guys, we have to learn to step up and be able to perform and we’ve been doing that.”
Yes, Mariota may’ve secured a Heisman Trophy in the win, but something else was clear at Reser Stadium Saturday night – and that is that the redshirt junior has plenty of weapons surrounding him that are helping make this offense look like the most efficient in the country over its past seven games.
Follow Ryan Kostecka on Twitter @Ryan_Kostecka