Oregon football: Ducks QB Marcus Mariota to return next season

Marcus Mariota will forgo the NFL draft, and the Ducks are still quacking

12/4/13 in NCAAF   |   Tyler_Waddell   |   426 respect

Numerous NFL general managers with the intention of picking up a talented quarterback in the first round slumped down in their chairs Tuesday evening, as Oregon’s Marcus Mariota announced he would return to school next season. Blog Photo - Oregon football: Ducks QB Marcus Mariota to return next season

Mariota ended the “suck for the duck” campaign despite being a sure-fire top-five selection in the 2014 NFL Draft, according to Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay.

“It is an honor to be a student at the University of Oregon and to have the opportunity to represent our institution on the football field alongside my teammates,” Mariota said, via the school’s official athletic website. “I look forward to earning my degree next year and to the rest of my career at this great University.”

The redshirt sophomore has lit up scoreboards since becoming the starter in 2012, leading an offense that scores 48.2 points per game with him in the backfield. He’s thrown for 6,089 yards and 62 touchdowns in his two-year career, while recently shattering the school record for most consecutive pass attempts without throwing an interception (353).

I’m not exactly sure what he can gain from this from a draft standpoint—Matt Barkley is a pretty good example of missing out big from staying another year—but it sure does help out Mark Helfrich a ton.

Unless something magical happens this weekend, Oregon will be on the outside looking in of the BCS picture for the first time since the 2008-09 season. I’d have to imagine that this—combined with his inability to beat Stanford—played as a factor in Mariota’s decision.

If I were he, I would feel as if the BCS National Championship got away from me this year. Oregon was put in an excellent position to play in the title game before getting pushed into the mud by the Cardinal, and then blew its Rose Bowl consolation prize by getting smacked by Arizona (I still don’t understand that one).

Not to mention his poor play down the stretch—Mariota has posted 59.6 QBR in four of his last five games, has thrown two interceptions in back-to-back weeks and has been completely ineffective running the ball, taking 68 carries for 89 yards (1.3 ypc) and no touchdowns since Week 9.

That’s compared to his 89.6 QBR, ability to find lanes from the zone read with 493 rushing yards (10.1 ypc) and nine ground-attack scores through the first seven games.

While he may have been one of the first three quarterbacks taken in May’s draft, it’s obvious that he has a lot of work to do before he’s elite. There’s a glowing potential with him and his jaw-dropping athletic ability, but staying in school for another year will help him refine those skills and be at a higher level for his first NFL season.

I’m sure Oregon fans don’t mind.

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