The last article was...um...a bit slow to load, so we're going to break up the second half highlights into something a smidgen more manageable. Especially since the first three games we have on are kind of jam packed with Mariota goodness and games everyone wants - Washington, Cal and Stanford.
As always, thanks to madmike for the videos!
Washington 2014 - This one goes to 11
Pucker factor is very, very high here - but man, what a play.
For the larger ones, I have to use some external code; hopefully this will allow for a bit better performance - but it does this centering thing I don't like.
This play though...wow. And man, Pharaoh Brown. This gif also shows the obscenely good placement that Mariota has on this ball. He has to get it over the safety, wait until the break is made, and get it there so that Brown can get it in stride. Then it's all Brown.
This game - as you'll see - was Mariota playing as his best version of a point guard, letting his players make great plays and putting them in a position to succeed. Boy, do they succeed.
This is something seen less often in prior years - Mariota's continued improvement for ball placement. The ball is put in a spot where only his receiver is going to remotely be able to catch it and it's done exactly on the money. Darren Carrington makes a brilliant catch as well.
Another example of a fine throw that allows for a great play by Byron Marshall. If this throw isn't as accurate Marshall never gets a chance to dodge; instead, he has time to grab the ball and turn around to make some sick jukes.
I think this is another thing Mariota did this year compared to prior years - he trusts his receivers to make plays more. This is a scary good catch by Dwayne Stanford that the announcer thought was overthrown. The placement of the ball has to be there due to the safety help coming over; any shorter and a play can be made. Wow.
California 2014 - the ugliest 59-point game ever
If you're wondering what it means to throw a person open, this is a good example. Mariota throws to a position on the field no one is near, including Pharaoh Brown. Brown isn't doing a cut or even planning on it, but he's looking for the ball. It's a great play on the ball but it's more importantly an advanced technique from both Mariota and Brown.
One of the few times Mariota had some time, and you can see him go through his reads. Due to Mariota's eye discipline the safety isn't anywhere near the play, leading to another nice pass over the middle. And it's another one that is throwing his receiver open - in this case, Dwayne Stanford, who cuts into the middle just in time.
(Mariota not pictured)
If you're wondering why Byron Marshall has an easy catch here, it's because the safety (I believe #21) runs right up into the middle where he thinks the play is going to be. Why does he think the play is going to be there? Because Mariota is looking there the entire time. That was probably Mariota's first read, actually. His second read, however, is very wide open and Mariota hits him a smidgen behind - but not so much that anyone else can make a play on it.
Stanford - Just another tree to fall
This isn't that special of a play, but it's a part of the evolution of Oregon this season. A designed rollout and drift, using Mariota's explosiveness and running ability to draw up the safety and give Charles Nelson enough room for the TD.
You knew this was coming, right? I've shown this like 15 times since it happened. It still makes me smile. Just look at that downfield blocking. Man. MAN. Favorite play of the season.
Great blitz by Stanford, completely defeated by Mariota's superior mobility and raw strength. Stanford should have him stopped, and almost did, but Mariota fights for more yards, more yards, and more yards, and gets the first down. When we talk about how we would have lost so many games this season without Mariota - it's not because of the flashy TDs. Or at least not just because of them. It's because of plays like this.
Of course, being able to run like a speed demon and get the corner doesn't hurt your chances, either. Man, look at him fly. The crackdown block by Charles Nelson is also awesome. He's like a wolverine fighting a bear.
The whole package. Multiple reads, avoiding pressure, pocket awareness, perfect ball placement and a great arm. And a great play by Darren Carrington to change his route and get to a spot where Mariota would be able to hit him.