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Marcus Mariota’s march to the Heisman: Remembering his time at Oregon, 2013 Part 1

Celebrating Heisman week, we look at some of the best plays through Marcus Mariota's career. This is the first half of the 2013 season.

Steve Dykes/Getty Images

Day three of the Mariota love continues - and now we get to see some of Mariota's progression as a player as well as the changes that Mark Helfrich has wrought.

Thanks to madmike for his videos and compilations - including this massive 30 minute compilation of all Mariota, all the time.

Nicholls State - the triumphant return

Right away we notice that Mariota is doing a lot more reads and progression. Some of the training wheels from 2012 are off. Here he looks for his primary (the out at the bottom) and then goes to the post, splitting the coverage nicely. No happy feet, nice little progression into the pocket.

Aside from torching the defense, what's interesting on this one is how long he rides the mesh point. He really sells it in a way that is reminiscent of Masoli. The safety is also fun to watch here, as they are completely going to where the running back is in order to try and catch up with him. The Ducks offense in a nutshell: give defenses plenty of choices, and all of the choices are wrong.

Again, look at the calm progression he goes through - simple flat throw, over the middle to the TE, then long cross. He looks like a sprinkler as he surveys from right to left. No real panic on the pocket either, though not that surprising given the opponent.

Virginia - zoooooom zoooom

Yes, Mariota can run the ball. That doesn't make him a bad passer, but he runs pretty well at times. Here it's a designed QB draw from the get go; Mariota has one of the LBs to beat and they're in the wrong position. The receivers are running routes designed to pull everyone out of the middle, giving Mariota a 1 on 1 matchup. He doesn't lose a lot of those.

This article threatens to be a love fest for Josh Huff again, too. Another example of Mariota looking at his read, using it to suck the safety in and then throw to where Josh Huff can either make a play or it'll likely be incomplete. It's almost a no look pass here; he turns and throws in less than a second.

Mariota shows a lot of patience here, waiting for Huff to make his break and puts it between the converging zone. Again, look at the ball placement here that Mariota continues to show - a ball that isn't going to get Huff set up for a kill shot by the LB, low so that the CB isn't going to have any play on it and a nice 3rd down conversion.

Tennessee - SEC speed?

This game was just a ton of great Mariota highlights - check the whole thing out if you have some time. I could have easily picked 5 more. This is another example where there is no run threat to speak of - it's a long passing down. There's not even a fake to a run. Mariota steps up into the pocket almost dangerously to get a good throwing motion in and get a sweet as hell catch along the sidelines with a tap of a foot in.


Rolling to his left, squares his body and throws a dart to Johnny Mundt - but first, that juke from a defender that should have him dead to absolute rights.

Another throw showing Mariota's superior ball placement and timing. Note at the end of the play there are 4 volunteers around Huff, but due to where the ball went none could make a play. Great catch too.

At first glance this looks like something most anyone can do - throw to a wide open Daryl Hawkins. I mean seriously, he's absurdly open. But the reason he is open is because of Mariota's eye discipline. He is looking toward the side screen the entire time until he throws. This causes the CB to bite on the thought of the screen and by the time the ball is in the air it's being thrown to the wrong guy. Seriously, the CB is thinking that the ball is going to the WR screen while Mariota is making his throwing motion. That's how good the eye discipline is here.

I'm very curious what NFL scouts will think of Mariota's weird yet oddly effective jump pass thing on the run. Another example where Mariota progresses through his reads (two verts on the left). This time there's pressure and he gets out of it before it becomes an issue while knowing where to go with the ball.

And there's Josh Huff, trying to steal the limelight.

California 2013 - the storm

There really was almost nothing particularly awesome about this game for Marcus Mariota. He didn't run a lot. He didn't pass a whole lot and most of the passes were swings and WR screens. But can he block? He gives it the ol' college try at least.


Sorry, I couldn't resist. Like I said, not a lot of highlights for Mariota this game. This punt return is so long and so awesome that it blows up gif lengths.

Miss ya, Bralon. You're still my favorite underrated Duck from 2012.

Colorado 2013 - ACTIVATE HDR MODE

Between the weird sun in Boulder and the white uniforms and...I'm not sure what else, this is a mess of whitey whiteness.  We can still get vintage Mariota throwing a skinny post with great arm strength.

Speaking of arm strength...Mariota doesn't do much in the way of progression because he knows from the presnap he's essentially got this one as soon as Addison blows past his corner. The safety stays put due to the threat of the WR screen at the top of the screen, and that's enough to give Addison a TD. If the safety goes out immediately Mariota would obviously throw the screen pass, as Huff would have a 1-1 chance and no one else within 15 yards.


Improv time. Mariota reads for what looks like a vert concept, absurdly dodges a tackle and then finds the open man and avoids even thinking about being hit.

Another one I couldn't resist. Mariota hits his first read at Huff's break, and then it's all JOSH HUFF SMASH PUNY BUFFALO. 2013 was so Josh Huff's year.

WashingTEN - nuff said

The head fake he gives to get Daryl Hawkins open and then sees that it's not open and throws to Addison anyway made this especially awesome.

You may have noticed a distinct lack of fade routes so far in our highlights. That is because they are also banned from being shown on AtQ. Instead we'll show awesome things like this.

The heat on this throw is pretty crazy, especially on the run. He makes a couple of reads, sees they're not open, casually moves out of the pocket and throws as soon as Pharaoh Brown is ready.

Not a lot needs to be said on this. He trusts Josh Huff to beat his man and the safety is a bit concerned with Addison doing a kind of skinny post in the middle and is out of position. This is very similar to the play that Lane Kiffin was cheering about a couple times when he watched Amari Cooper blow past safeties. Mariota has the easy job here, but he still puts a pass where Huff can catch it while running and make it to the end zone.

I used this angle for this highlight because it shows what Mariota sees and why he doesn't pull the trigger. As he's going through his progressions the zone makes it clear they're not going to be open. He looks through 2, feels the outside pressure coming in and blows well past contain to get a huge gain. He could have thrown for a short gain along the sidelines to Keanon Lowe at almost any time, but instead goes for a first down on first and 15 and a whole lot more.