SAN ANTONIO, Texas - One of the biggest questions for Oregon’s offense heading into the Dec. 30 Alamo Bowl is the health of key offensive players like starting running back Byron Marshall and quarterback Marcus Mariota, who both suffered injuries during the season.
“You get beat up during the course of the season and we’re no different than anybody else,” said offensive coordinator Scott Frost. “I talked to the Texas coaches last night and they talked about losing quite a few pretty good players to injury this year, so over the course of a football season you are going to get hurt. The bowl preparation gives you a chance for some of the guys with minor injuries to get back healthy again.”
Frost also stated that Mariota was completely healthy and the quarterback added that he feels prepared to go for Monday’s game.
“Right now I feel good,” Mariota said. “Since the last month, I feel probably the healthiest I’ve been.”
In today’s interviews Mariota agreed with his coach’s statement and said he was looking forward to next year.
“I am just going to continue what I’ve been asked to do and continue to distribute,” Mariota said. “Obviously you can get better at any standpoint, but for me I just want to take care of the ball and make sure I don’t put the offense in a bad situation.”
Mariota also spoke about his NFL evaluation, sharing that areas for him to improve on were ball security, accuracy, and passing consistency. He also added that those were all things he can work on during the offseason and once again reiterated that his focus is on this upcoming game.
Starting running back Byron Marshall, who suffered an injury early in the game against Arizona this season, said he is ready both physically and mentally for Monday’s game.
“I wouldn’t consider myself injured anymore,” Marshall said. “I didn’t lose any mental focus from it (his injury) and I didn’t lose any lack of confidence. I am just really excited to go out there are play again.”
Center Hroniss Grasu spoke about how having Marshall healthy is a big advantage for the offense as a unit.
“Even though he is a second year sophomore he is a leader on this team,” Grasu said. “He is a guy we all look up to and he brings some really great energy on the field and I am really excited to have him back”
Grasu also added that Marshall provides assistance to him and the o-line when it comes to blocking.
Marshall said that after the long break it is expected for the team to have a little bit of rust, but that the intensity of the Ducks’ practices will help the team be as prepared as possible for the game. Wide receiver Keanon Lowe agreed.
“As far as the time off it was a chance for us to get healthy and get back on track. We had great bowl preparation in Eugene and we had great practices in San Antonio,” said Lowe. “Guys are just excited, ready to go. You have a month off, a month off of hitting people in a sport like football – you are just ready to get back out there and get ready to compete.”
Lowe said that practices in Eugene consisted of stressing the fundamentals, such as ball security.
When the Oregon Ducks arrived in San Antonio on Christmas Day, head coach Mark Helfrich spoke about how the team needs to “fine-tune” things before hitting the field for Monday’s game.
Today, offensive coordinator Scott Frost stated similar thoughts.
“This week is really about gearing up after Christmas break and ironing out all the wrinkles and trying to get ready for the ball game,” Frost said.
With the Alamo Bowl now two days away, Monday will be the true test to see if Oregon’s preparations set them up for success.