Fentress 3 and Out: UCLA
EUGENE – Oregon Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota proved to be human after all.
Two fumbles on Saturday. Both came in the second quarter. One was returned for a touchdown. But no need to worry. The Ducks certainly aren’t.
“Not alarming,” Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said. “Just something we have to improve upon.”
They were just Mariota's first two turnovers of the season. That's an amazing accomplishment in itself. Certainly he was bound to turnover the ball at some point. That they came on back-to-back drives in the same quarter of the same game made them stick out more.
One set up a touchdown pass and the other was returned for a touchdown to make the score 27-21. Both came while Mariota was being sacked.
“I put the team in a bad spot with that,” Mariota said.
Oregon won 62-38 win over Washington State. So they weren't a problem. But the sense is that in a game down the road, such mishaps could become a big issue.
The sophomore quarterback took the sole blame for the errors, stating that he needs to take better care of the ball and that he has worked extensively in practice to improve in that area.
However, coach Mark Helfrich said communication errors in the passing game led to both fumbles and he took blame for that as the head coach.
“Confusion is my fault,” he said. “Confusion is our fault as coaches. We’ll get that cleaned up.”
On one play, a double move was called but not relayed properly leaving Mariota waiting for a route to develop that wasn’t there while protection broke down.
The second one, however, Helfrich said Mariota needs to get rid of the ball when a play goes south.
“Both of those fumbles I was hanging on to it a little too long,” Mariota said. “I was trying to let the play develop. Sometimes I just have to go or just throw it away.”
Seeing a 27-7 lead shrink to 27-21 was by far the most adversity No. 2 Oregon (7-0, 4-0 Pac-12) the team has faced this season.
Nobody would say that facing that was ideal but it did offer an opportunity for the team to bounce back from a negative stretch.
“We were still fine,” Oregon running back Byron Marshall said. “We weren’t worried or kind of rattled or anything like that.”