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Marcus Mariota’s march to the Heisman: Remembering his time at Oregon, 2012 Part 2

Celebrating Heisman week, we look at some of the best plays through Marcus Mariota's career. This is the second half of 2012.

Brian Bahr/Getty Images

2012 highlights continued!

In case you missed any, here is the first half of the 2012 highlights. Now onto the rest of the PAC-12 domination. For an even bigger list of 2012 highlights, check out Madmike's great videos. Thanks, Mad mike!

Arizona State 2012 - MASERATI SPEED

Man, I had forgotten this one existed. Yeah, Chip Kelly got super cute at times. Clearly what we should be doing is using our backup QB and spread Mariota wide as a passer option. Good times.

Okay. I know this is going to be news and all, but...this Mariota guy, he might be something special. Maybe. Just a tad.

This was a game where Mariota ended up passing for 40 yards because the rushing game was doing just that well. He didn't play in the second half.

Colorado 2012 - just slingin and slangin

This one is throwing to a wide open Kenjon Barner, but there's something really great here - which is how Mariota throws his receiver in stride. Barner catches it at the 25 and doesn't have to slow down much to catch it. He gains another 20 yards. It's easy to throw to a wide open guy; it's a lot harder to throw to him such that he has a catchable ball and it hits him on the run. Mariota drops this in like it's nothing.

Something that doesn't get mentioned all that much is Mariota's toughness. He'll congratulate players on a good hit after they've hit him. He'll avoid contact if he can, but he'll also go for the end zone or go for that first down and completely sell himself out (as we'll see in 2014). And he's hard to bring down.

USC 2012 - you want Mariota to beat you with his arm? K

The USC game plan was to force a young Marcus Mariota to throw the ball and take away the running game. This was...not a wise choice. Here he's hitting a 30 yard pass running to his right without any major issue and throwing his receiver open. It could have been a slightly nicer pass, but again - he throws to a place where either his receiver will catch it or it'll go out of bounds.

And another example. Marcus Mariota throws so that either DeAnthony Thomas will make a good catch or it'll go out of bounds. He doesn't rifle it in (which would cause the coverage to possibly get in front) and he doesn't float it too much (so that the coverage can catch up). He just gets it in just the right spot, with just the right amount of speed and height.

Remember - USC wanted to make Mariota throw the ball. These last two plays were within the first two minutes of the game. Possibly not the best choice that the Kiffins ever made.

This isn't the best highlight ever but it's subtly brilliant. Mariota steps up into the pocket at the top of his drop and fires a laser right as his receiver makes their break, right between the zone of double coverage. This is not Mariota doing his amazing improvisation or showcasing his speed - it's just him doing the exact right thing as a QB.

Well, he's already passed for two TDs. Maybe we should try and let them run and defend the pass with some man-zone concepts. WAIT WHY ARE YOU LAUGHING COME BACK STAHP

Just watching people believe they've got an angle on him as he runs past is such a joy.

Mariota sells the play action, sucks the safeties in, and waits for Josh Huff to get an easy score. I think this is one of the reasons Mariota has so many detractors - because he makes things look so very easy. Look at the effortless footwork and not worrying about the pressure on his right, knowing he'll have time. Look how the throw is precisely where Huff needs to be and over the converging DBs. If it's too far, it's a heroic grab at best. If it's too short it's broken up or intercepted. Instead Huff nonchalantly walks in to the end zone.

Cal 2012 - 6 TDs? No problem

Mariota's arm strength again on display here. He goes through his read progression, looks to the right for a waiting Huff, and then rockets it to Lyerla. He has a spy and beats the zone coverage in about half a second. Yikes.

Another simply beautiful downfield throw in easy stride for Josh Huff. Another where he looks off the safety to hit the long ball. Something that might go unnoticed - watch how Mariota takes little steps as he's getting ready to throw. Nothing big but stays constantly in motion so that if he needs to reposition he'll be ready - but he can also set his feet and throw.

Stanford 2012 - trigger warning (RAGE)

The rage has taken all the color out of this. Just...turn around. Please?

Maybe this time?

How about this time?


Sigh. No matter how many times I look at it, it doesn't change. It is one sweet as hell run though.

Civil War 2012

4 guys whiffing on air. This was a designed QB draw, but it doesn't make it any less impressive. Man is Mariota fast. And see? Someone turns around and blocks. How hard is that?

So many of these are Josh Huff highlights too. But look at the ball placement. If he throws it a bit late the safety stops it. If he throws it early Huff isn't open. If he throws it short it's not a catch. If it's just a smidgen long it's an overthrow. This kind of accuracy is uncanny.

Fiesta Bowl 2012

There aren't a ton of highlights of Mariota from the Fiesta Bowl; Kansas State's defense was very strong and their passing defense especially was good. Mariota didn't make a ton of mistakes, however. Here you see him doing his progression, avoiding the rush up the middle (which caused that rusher to fall on their ass) and then waiting patiently for his 4th option to come open and get some yards. Note how he subtly hints that he's going to run, which draws the defender up enough to be out of position to get to Barner.

it's really small things that make a difference. Here Mariota basically does a quick look to lateral to Thomas, causing #15 to have to respect it for just a second - and then he's gone for another 25 yards.