I watched the replay (three times), scoured the web for articles, and talked to fans for their perspectives. Here are my thoughts.
Upon arriving to their seats on a warm Saturday afternoon at Autzen stadium, Duck fans were greeted with this image on Duck Vision:
That, and many other reasons are why Duck fever is at an all-time high. There were a few important position battles going in, none more important than the competition at quarterback. Long time Duck fan Jason Sherrill was among many of them who wanted to get a glimpse into Oregon's future: "I've heard so many good things about both, I couldn't wait to see who had the edge," said Jason.
It was considered by a lot of people, including myself, that Bryan Bennett was the leading candidate to become the teams next starter at QB. But the play of Marcus Mariota may have changed that.
Mariota could be the perfect quarterback to fit Chip Kelly's system. He can throw AND run, and looked spectacular at times. To barrow a phrase from Chip Kelly, Mariota "won the day."
He was 18 of 26, threw for 202 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. On one player in particular, he flashed his speed on an 82-yard touchdown run, resembling another quarterback from the past that flourished in Chip Kelly's offense.
I'm talkin' about Dennis Dixon of course, and I'm not alone: "I had flashbacks of Dixon," exclaimed Matt Shelton, student and Duck fan, "Mariota was calm and collective the whole game, and looked much better," he added.
Mariota's team, Mighty Oregon, defeated the Fighting Ducks, 41-14.
Other position battles of interest for me was at receiver, and a long both lines. The Ducks should be pretty deep at receiver this year (a lot of potential talent, but unproven) and one guy who looked impressive Saturday was Daryle Hawkins.
The junior wide receiver accounted for 4 receptions for 55 yards, including a 35-yard touchdown reception from Mariota.
|DE #9 Arik Armstead|
Overall there are still many questions left to be answered. The battle for starting quarterback is far from over, there are still questions a long the offensive line and the receiving corps, but the future looks very bright. The Ducks clearly have reloaded and are gonna be right back in the national title race next year.