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Autzen StadiumThe 3rd ranked Oregon Ducks start Pac 12 Conference play against the 21st ranked Arizona Wildcats this Saturday. That means it’s time to check on my preseason predictions.

PREDICTION: The Oregon Duck’s redshirt freshman quarterback, Marcus Mariota, will be a sensation. Why? I expect him to be one of the most accurate passers that will have ever played at Oregon.

So for so good. Mariota is certainly turning heads. He opened the season with an 18-22 performance leading to 7 straight touchdowns before half time. It is worth noting that 3 of the 4 incompletions were dropped balls. In his most recent game Mariota threw for over 300 yards while completing about 75% of his passes. A couple of fumbles and one interception were about his only rookie mistakes during his first three games. That is countered his 8 TD’s. My prediction that he will be the best quarterback to come out of Oregon since AJ Feeley still stands.

Freshman to watch

I suggested that the two newcomers to watch were defensive lineman Arik Armstedt and receiver Bralon Addison. I believe this is still the case. Armstedt is learning and has had limited playing time. But by the end of the year he should be a regular, if not significant, contributor. Addison fell a little short of expectations in the first two games. He looked like he was surprised at the speed of play at the college level. He has the talent though and is improving. He made a really nice catch along the sidelines in game three.

One true freshman I didn’t cover was  running back Byron Marshall. He looks like he is going to do better then I expected for a first year player. The improvement from game one to game three was startling. His ability to contribute is much needed as the RB positions is the one area where Oregon doesn’t have as much depth as you would like. Marshall provides a solid 3rd option at the RB spot.

 

About those Trojans

PREDICTION: Speaking of USC, I fully expect the Trojans to lose to a team not named Oregon.

Well that didn’t take long. USC lost to Stanford last weekend. Not a huge surprise to me.

I really believe that USC will not be able to keep up with Oregon for a full game. They have great starters but it takes more then 11 on each side of the ball these days. Oregon routinely plays 25 players on defense. Seven to ten duck receivers caught passes in each of Oregon’s three preseason games.

USC looked tired as Stanford ran through and around them in the 4th quarter. USC’s offense could not hold up either. The teams that can put pressure on Matt Barkely are going to have a chance to beat USC. My prediction still stands. USC stays close early November 3rd but Oregon runs away in the second half. A repeat of the last game Oregon played at USC two years ago.

Finally

De’Anthony Thomas. What can you say.

ESPN now has him ranked 2rd in their Heisman Trophy watch for the best player in college football. Even more fun though is the De’Anthony Thomas Yards-Per-Touch-O-Meter created by Sports Illustrated. At one point early in the second game against Fresno State Thomas had 4 TD’s on 8 touches.

 Sports Illustrated De'Anthony Thomas Touch-O-Meter