Quarterback Marcus Mariota appeared healthy and was awarded the offensive MVP trophy in Oregon’s 30-7 victory in the Alamo Bowl.
In the press conference leading up to tonight’s game, both Mariota and offensive coordinator Scott Frost said that Mariota was ready to go and healthy.
Mariota finished the game completing 18-of-26, throwing for a total 253 yards and one touchdown.
But, it was what a healthy Mariota did on the ground that showed an elevated performance since dealing with his knee injury at Stanford.
Mariota led the Ducks in rushing tonight, picking up a season-high 133 yards off of 15 carries.
“I just wanted to go out there and play and instinctively play. I was able to do that today,” Mariota said.
When asked about the differences between his performance in the Stanford game compared to tonight, Mariota said that he felt more comfortable and had all the confidence in the team’s preparation.
It was evident that Mariota brought something a little more today than we saw in November, sparking Oregon’s offense and he agrees.
“I feel that just having that dimensions where I’m able to run really just helps our offense,” Mariota said.
Mariota also shared that Frost and him joked all week that the quarterback would run for 200 yards.
“In that first half watching him run I think he showed the whole country what he is capable of,” Frost said. “I have never seen a guy go from Heisman leader to out of the top 10.”
Frost also said he thought that Mariota was judged a little unfairly in the Heisman voting when the Ducks lost games this season. Although Mariota has constantly said that the winning the Heisman is not a top priority to him, it is undeniable that after tonight’s performance the hype will once again emerge at the start of next football season.
When looking back on the season Mariota said that the most memorable moment of the season would be pulling through adversity to get 11 wins.
Mariota may have finished the season on a high note, but there is no doubt his performance today will leave many thinking about what he can bring to the Ducks next season and maybe even a personal trophy of his own.
Follow Beth Maiman on Twitter @bethamaiman