If unpredictability is part of the appeal for you in college football, then Pac-12 coaches have done their best to please.
Friday morning, the Oregonian reported that redshirt freshman Marcus Mariota of Honolulu has been picked by the Ducks to start in their season opener against Arkansas State next week, one more in a series of eyebrow-raising decisions on quarterbacks in the Pac-12.
An upset? Not so much, according to a tweet from ex-Ducks running back LaMichael James quoted by the Oregonian: “He will possibly be the best quarterback to ever play at Oregon!” James bleated.
Uh, let’s not get carried away just yet, LaMichael. The list of quarterbacks there includes Norm Van Brocklin, Dan Fouts, Chris Miller and Joey Harrington.
Some indicators had seemed to point Mariota’s way in recent days, and coach Chip Kelly pulled the trigger after a Thursday scrimmage in Eugene. Bennett had very good showings as a backup last season while Mariota redshirted, and even as Mariota had a strong spring game to pull into position to take the job, skeptics pointed out that he had a long touchdown run in that game in which there was no live tackling of quarterbacks.
At any rate, Mariota, 6-4 and 196 pounds, is now the guy. And, honk if you had him winning the Oregon quarterback derby, along with Brett Hundley at UCLA, Taylor Kelly at Arizona State, Jordan Webb at Colorado and Josh Nunes at Stanford.