For a team who’s offense grabs all of the national headlines, Oregon’s defense played probably its best game of the year Saturday as the No. 2 Ducks went on the road and beat No. 16 Washington by a score of 45-24 for their 18th consecutive road victory and 10th straight against their bitter northwest rival.
Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota took another giant leap forward in his candidacy for the 2013 Heisman Trophy.
Overcoming the raucous atmosphere of Husky Stadium and most certainly the Ducks toughest test yet, Mariota was 24 of 31 for 366 yards with 3 touchdown passes.
On the ground, Mariota rushed 13 times for 88 yards and 1 score. Saturday’s win over the Huskies was Mariota’s 8th consecutive game where he’s thrown and rushed for a touchdown. Mariota has now won 9 straight road games as the Ducks starting QB.
On the season, Mariota has now thrown 17 touchdowns and rushed for 8. This was Mariota’s 19th consecutive game where he’s thrown at least 1 touchdown pass.
“He just does what he does…we love that guy” said Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich after the game.
“,…he’s one of the best in our world,…he’s one of a kind.”
Asked about his own performance, Mariota again praised his entire team.
“It took a huge team effort” said Mariota in his post game comments.
“Every single one of those guys on the field today did a great job,…and I’m proud of those guys.”
Even more impressive, Mariota has yet to throw an interception in 165 attempts. It was also another solid performance for the Ducks offensive line giving Mariota enough time to find his receivers.
After the game, Mariota talked about his ability to find his open receivers under the stress of Washington’s pressure defense.
“I trust those guys to get open,” said Mariota.
“Whenever I’m under duress, I know they’ll get open. I just have to find them.”
THROUGH THE AIR AND ON THE GROUND
Oregon’s ground and air attack again yielded 1oo yard performances.
On the ground, sophomore RB Byron Marshall gained 106 yards on 19 carries and scored 2 touchdowns.
This was Marshall’s third consecutive game and fourth overall where he’s rushed for more than 100 yards. On the season, Marshall has rushed for 554 yards and scored 6 times. Marshall is averaging 6.1 yards per carry.
Through the air, it was once again the Bralon Addison show as the Missouri City, Texas native caught 8 passes for 157 yards and put two of those in the end zone. Saturday’s performance was the second time this season Addison has reached the 100 ( receiving ) yard mark.
Senior Josh Huff also reached the 100 yard mark, however it wasn’t without a brief injury scare. Early in the second quarter, Huff appeared to injure his lower right leg after taking a hard hit on a pass play. Huff was helped into the Ducks locker room and wasn’t seen again until after the halftime break.
“I was told to stay out, but I wasn’t taking it like that,’’ Huff said after the game.
“I wanted to compete in this game and compete with my teammates and take care of the Dawgs.’’
Huff returned in the second half and it didn’t take long to prove he was healthy. At the 12:36 mark of the 3rd quarter, Huff caught a beautiful 65 yard pass from Mariota to find the end zone and stretch the Oregon lead to 28-14.
Huff went on to make 6 catches for 107 yards and the 1 score.
GAME CHANGING MOMENT
With :26 seconds remaining in the 3rd quarter, and after the Huskies closed the Oregon lead to 31-24 on a Bishop Sankey 25 yard touchdown run, Oregon faced a 1st and 15 on its own 29 yard line. Under pressure, Marcus Mariota ran 35 yards to the Washington 36 to once again keep the drive moving and give the Ducks excellent field position.
On the next play, Mariota found Bralon Addison on a 30 yard strike to the Washington 6 yard line. Two plays later, Mariota found the end zone on a 5 yard run extending the Oregon lead to 38-24. From that point, the Oregon defense held the Husky offense scoreless.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Washington Coach Steve Sarkisian
“We had a hard time containing Marcus,…we tried blizting,…we tried everything. He’s a helluva player.”
“I don’t know when Marcus Mariota is heading to the NFL, but when he does, he’s a top 5 player.”
“I don’t have a vote ( regarding the Heisman Trophy ), but I’d be hard pressed to find a better player.”
Stewart Mandel – Sports Illustrated
Regarding Marcus Mariota and the Heisman Trophy
“He’s right in the heart of it with guys like Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater and Clemson’s Tajh Boyd,….but this performance today may put him at the top.”
George Schroeder / USA Today
Regarding Marcus Mariota
“Mariota’s talent is undeniable,…his statistics are impressive,…but his poise is the reason he should be on top of everyone’s list of Heisman candidates. Halfway through the season, he’s got to be the front-runner.”
Robert Smith – ESPN
Oregon deserves a number 1 ranking after a road win like this. Great defensive performance against a talented offense. Offense speaks for itself.
Regarding playing without De’Anthony Thomas
“It’s like the Avengers missing the Hulk.”
Regarding playing on the road at Husky Stadium
“It was definitely hostile,…it was loud. The fans were really into it.”
Oregon Head Coach Mark Helfrich
Regarding winning 10 straight against Washington
“It’s a great achievement. For the fans,..for the alumni,…it’s huge. It’s number 6 for us,…now we need to rest, recover, rehab,…and get ready for number 7