Oregon was tested for the first time on Saturday, and they passed with flying colors.
Playing in the fourth quarter for just the fifth time as a starter, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota had perhaps his most complete game of his Oregon career, completing 24-of-31 passes for three touchdowns and–most importantly–no interceptions.
“You can’t say enough about how he played,” Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich said. “But at the same time it’s an 11-man offense.”
Mariota’s performance was enough to earn high praise from even the opposing coach.
“I don’t have a Heisman vote but if I’d be hard pressed to say we’ll see a better quarterback this year,” Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian said. “That dude is special.”
It was an afternoon when the Ducks needed production from a lot of different guys with Colt Lyerla‘s recent decision to leave the program and De’Anthony Thomas due to injury–despite the fact that Thomas was dressed for the game.
“A bunch of guys made a bunch of plays,” Helfrich said. “Bralon (Addison) was huge, Josh Huff made a ton of plays. Both tight ends contributed. I thought Thomas Tyner grew up today by making a couple of plays that were veteran.”
Addison’s performance–which came on his birthday–was especially key for the Ducks as Huff went down with an injury early in the first. In his absence Addison would make four catches in the first half for 95 of his 157 yards on the night.
The Ducks hit the locker room at halftime not knowing Huff’s fate for the second half–but nobody was surprised when the wideout was ready for the second half.
“That guy’s a fighter,” Addison said. “he came to the sideline in pain, we were all praying for him. Coach Helfrich came by, everybody said, ‘we’re playing this game for Josh.’ When we went in at halftime, he was walking around in the locker room, jogging around.”
Huff said he didn’t have to do much begging for the training staff to clear him to return.
“They told me to make some cuts, and I made some cuts and it felt good,” Huff said.
When Huff did return to the game in the second half, he made an immediate impact, pulling in a 65 yard touchdown reception after Washington marched down the field and scored to open the half and cut the lead to 21-14.
The Ducks had an incredibly balanced game on the ground as well, with Mariota keeping the ball 13 times, Tyner running it 12 times and Byron Marshall continuing to grow into his role as a featured back, earning 106 yards on 19 carries.