Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota didn’t spend much time on the field Monday morning for the football team’s second spring scrimmage, but that didn’t mean his impact wasn’t felt.
“I looked over there (the sideline) several times today and he was talking with a couple offensive linemen, getting with some of our younger skill guys and doing a great job trying to help the progression,” head coach Mark Helfrich told reporters.
Helfrich has discussed Mariota’s body language and leadership skills throughout the spring, saying he needs to be more vocal, and Mariota agrees.
“The way I am, naturally just quiet, isn’t from a leadership standpoint good enough,” Mariota said. “I think I’ve learned that, made amends with it and just continue to focus on it.”
Mariota’s attitude about this and his actions today in the spring game encourage Helfrich, and Mariota appreciates the pressure from Helfrich to get him to this point.
“A lot of people don’t really tend to understand my body language,” Mariota said. “But I think he (Helfrich) has been around me enough that he understands it and I think he wants me just to be confident and show leadership.”
If Mariota continues to play at a Heisman trophy level, leadership and body language likely won’t be a huge concern to Helfrich and the rest of the team. But if he continues to be vocal like he was during Monday’s scrimmage, Mariota could provide an unseen positive effect on the Ducks’ success come fall.
- Dominique Harrison returned an interception about 100 yards today, Helfrich said. Neither Helfrich nor Mariota could confirm which quarterback threw the pick, just that it wasn’t Mariota.
“I think he’s come a long way in the sense that he’s been around the ball a lot and he’s made a lot of plays,” Mariota said of Harrison.
- Helfrich noted several solid performances during the scrimmage Monday. He said Stetzon Bair stood out on defense and Devon Allen, who just won the 110-meter high hurdles at the Oregon Relays. Helfrich said the redshirt freshman wide receiver was “awesome,” making several plays at receiver, covering punts and on returns.
“I just want to get out there and contribute, no matter what it is,” Allen said. “If I can catch a few touchdowns, that’s a bonus.”
- Helfrich was also impressed with kicker Matt Wogan.
“We put him in some adverse situations today and I think he was 100 percent (on field goals),” Helfrich said.
Helfrich was asked about Wogan’s place in the punter battle, as well, but the head coach said it’s an ongoing competition.
- Helfrich and Mariota talked about Sunday night’s tight playoff victory for the Portland Trail Blazers over the Houston Rockets. Helfrich said he used to be a big Blazers fan and he’s doesn’t like the NBA regular season, but he watched Sunday’s game.
“I stayed up and watched the end last night and that was hurting me,” Helfrich said. “Didn’t get my beauty sleep.”
Mariota, who didn’t stay up to watch the game, said wide receiver and Portland native Keanon Lowe is trying to make all of his teammates Blazers fans. Two of his fellow wide receivers, Chance Allen and Bralon Addison, are Houston natives, and Mariota said those three wideouts often engage in trash talk, but not for reasons many might suspect.
“Believe it or not, Chance and Bralon are big Lakers fans,” Mariota said. “Keanon always gives them something about the Lakers, so it kind of works both ways.”
Follow Victor Flores on Twitter @vflores415