Thearon W. Henderson
Oregon Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota helped lead his team past the California Golden Bears, but the injuries are piling up.
Brian Spaen, Autzen Zoo: What impressed me the most was Oregon's response to Cal's strategy to stop the Ducks' running attack. There's been far more passing in Oregon's previous two games than most of the season. I'm amazed that Marcus Mariota looks this efficient given not being out there for full games and not having much depth at wide receiver.
Obviously, the defensive line worried me even before kickoff when Dion Jordan would likely be out after it appeared he made his shoulder injury worse against USC. The lack of an offense cost California down the stretch, but it could be a real cause for concern against Stanford's talent in the trenches.
nds500 (Noah), Addicted to Quack: Mariota's performance impressed me the most. A slew of injuries, including one to himself, and facing a defense that sold out to stop the run, Marcus stepped up in a huge way and showed that he's one of the best quarterbacks in the Pac-12 if not the country. The injuries in general were the most worrisome trend. With the coaching staff not talking about injuries during the week, it's hard to know just how serious all of them are, but we look very depleted (and vulnerable) on defense heading into our toughest stretch of the season.
Nathan Roholt, FishDuck: Talk before the game was about how thin the defense was going to be Saturday night, and it got thinner during it. To see Oregon's defense blank Cal after getting gashed on the Bears' first possession of the second half really stands out.
Undoubtedly, the biggest worry is injuries. Oregon fans had nightmarish flashbacks to the injury bug of 2007 on Saturday night. When Mariota came up limping, there had been so many other injuries in the game prior to that moment, I didn't even react. When a team's exploited weaknesses are the source of a loss, fans can live with it. But injuries are the ultimate boogeyman. For the Ducks to be clicking the way they are, and to potentially miss out on a title because of injuries for the second time in six years, would be a statistical anomaly and missed opportunity folks in Eugene would have a hard time reconciling.
Brian Spaen, Autzen Zoo: : It's really easy to rank him first right now with how impressive he's been as a redshirt freshman. Honestly, I have no problem ranking him ahead of Jeremiah Masoli. Mariota may have 54 less pass attempts than Masoli right now, but he has much better pass efficiency at 71.7 to 58 percent. He's already thrown for more yards than Masoli with less attempts. His touchdown to interception ratio is 28-5 compared to Masoli's 15-6 for the whole 2009 campaign.
Still, I have Darron Thomas at the top for now. It was a mistake for him to leave and could have been a real benefit this season. Having over 30 touchdowns and single-digit interceptions, along with QB ratings of over 150 for two seasons, is simply impressive.
Noah, Addicted to Quack:: Marcus is clearly the most talented QB of the Chip Kelly era but I want to see him finish the season before ranking him ahead of Darron Thomas. Right now I have him on par with Dennis Dixon and ahead of Jeremiah Masoli and the 300 other QBs who played after Dixon went down in 2007.
Nathan Roholt, FishDuck: Dennis Dixon is still the gold standard for a Chip Kelly QB, likely winning the Heisman and the National Championship if he had stayed healthy in 2007. He may have only played 9 1/2 games in Kelly's system, but that's about the number of games Mariota needed to make himself #2 on this list. If Mariota gets either of the achievements Dixon was supposed to get, he moves to #1. Darron Thomas' supporters will point to his stats and his win-loss record to illustrate the premature nature of putting Mariota ahead of him, but Mariota already has more signature moments in his first ten games than Thomas had in two-plus seasons.