For most of the 56,000 fans in Autzen Stadium Saturday evening, they were probably as shocked as Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota was when the Heisman candidate lost two fumbles against Washington State – one of them a return for a touchdown.
At Monday’s practice session in the Moshofsky Center, the Oregon coaching staff used the two turnovers as a teachable moment to heighten the importance of holding onto the football and not giving it away to the opponent.
“Obviously I have to take care of the ball better,’’ Mariota said Monday when asked about his two turnovers.
“I was pretty nonchalant with it in the pocket and we can’t have that. Lucky for us, we were fortunate to come out with a win with that,…but a couple of these next games, we can’t have that.’’
Mariota explained to reporters Monday that head coach Mark Helfrich ‘was in his ear for most of the practice’ harping on ball control.
It was a lesson Mariota learned from.
“I have to have that clock in my head to get the ball out,’’ Mariota explained.
“Both of those fumbles I was hanging onto the ball too long,… waiting for the play to develop. Sometimes, you just have to let it go, or throw it away.’’
After Monday’s practice, Helfrich took much of the blame for the turnovers explaining the teams communication needs to be much better.
Helfrich said there was a communication breakdown between the receivers and Mariota and as the head coach, he said he takes responsibility for that.
For Mariota though, it simply comes down taking care of the football.
“The ball is our friend,’’ Mariota said with a smile.
“We can’t have it out there like that. I have to continue to take care of it. I just have to learn from it and get better. I put the team in a bad spot with that.’’
VIDEO; Watch the Marcus Mariota press briefing by clicking on the arrow in the video box above.