As spring football practice continues, leading up to the spring game on the 27th, emphasis has been placed on the quarterback position. With leading rusher Kenjon Barner headed to the NFL, the play of starting quarterback Marcus Mariota will be under a microscope.
The expectations placed on Mariota are extremely high. Even though he is heading into just his second year as quarterback, he is already projected to be the most prolific quarterback in the Pac-12 and a Heisman finalist.
Head coach Mark Helfrich said that Mariota is not content to skate by on his athleticism or past accomplishments and that he is determined to improve his game.
“I think the biggest thing for a guy like him is that he still wants to get better,” Helfrich said. “I think a lot of guys have success early and then kind of put it in cruise. He hasn’t done that. He has gotten better as a runner, he has gotten better as a passer and he has a better overall knowledge of our system.”
Helfrich continued to praise his quarterback and expressed that it is a joy to be able to coach him.
“When a great player wants to be great and has all the capabilities, that’s where you light up as a coach because that guy can be special,” Helfrich said.
Unlike last year, this spring there is no controversy over who the starting quarterback will be. The back-up QB is a different story. Jake Rodrigues and Jeff Lockie, both red-shirt freshmen, are battling to become second on the depth chart. The spring game will provide both with a stage to prove they are worthy of the coveted spot. Mariota said it will be a big opportunity for them.
“They came in to spring knowing their would be a competition (for the back up QB position),” Mariota said. “I’m really looking forward to seeing what they do when the lights come on. (The spring game) will be the closest thing to a real live game that they have had. I’m excited for them and I bet they are really looking forward to it.”
Much has been made of players like De’Anthony Thomas and Dior Mathis double dipping in both football and track, but Oshay Dunmore has one-upped them with his participation in decathlons.
“Decathlons are definitely tough,” Dunmore said. “It was a good test of mental and physical strength, but now I know it’s something I made it through. It’s probably one of the hardest things I’ll ever do in my career. Good thing I got it out of the way early.”
Dunmore acknowledged that the success some of the other football players have seen on the track is impressive, but decathlons are a whole different ball game.
“It’s a little bit different, going out there sprinting and going out there and running a decathlon,” Dunmore said. “It’s a little bit more of a demand on my part but it’s something that I signed up for so I’m going to continue to do everything I can to stay on top of everything and give it my all.”
No. 10 Oregon baseball starts an important home series against No. 13 UCLA Friday at 7 p.m. The Ducks are coming off a sweep of Cal and will look to make a statement against a top conference opponent.
First pitch for Friday and Saturday’s game will be at 7 p.m. with Tommy Thorpe taking the mound Friday and Cole Irvin going Saturday. The final game will come Sunday at noon with Jake Reed getting the start.
Mike Tokito of The Oregonian writes that former Blazers’ and Sonics’ head coach is the front-runner for the vacant coaching position for the Detroit Pistons. Nate McMillan has been without work since he was fired by the Blazers during the tail end of the 2011-12 season.
In their most recent NFL mock draft, Sporting News has Oregon defensive end Dion Jordan going second overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags have many needs and could be helped by a plethora of different players, but with Jordan’s stock rising so quickly, no team will pass him up easily.