One position of question coming into another season of high expectations for the Oregon Ducks was quarterback and how to fill the hole left by Darron Thomas' decision to leave for the NFL. After winning the starting job, Marcus Mariota used the Ducks' opener against Arkansas State to show that Chip Kelly's high-powered offense is in good hands.
The No. 5-ranked Ducks, behind the play of their new quarterback, opened the season with a 57-34 victory over Arkansas State.
The story, however, was how the redshirt freshman would handle stepping right in to lead a title contender often known for its scoring prowess. As David Piper at Addicted To Quack explained, Mariota did more than show he could handle the starting job:
"In a game in which everyone knew Oregon would win, Mariota was the clear storyline. A redshirt freshman having just won a quarterback battle against a veteran is always going to draw major attention. Mariota showed everybody why he won the job, delivering a performance that will serve as football porn to Duck fans for the next week. In leading the Ducks to touchdowns on all seven of his drives, the freshman connected on 19 of his 23 attempts to eight different receivers for three scores. Every read was right, and even the balls that weren't caught were catchable."
The redshirt freshman threw for 200 yards, just over nine per toss. In addition to that 18-for-22 passing, Mariota carried four times for 24 yards, showing early signs that he has what it takes to be next in the line of play-making Oregon quarterbacks.