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Ducks should go back to the future with uniquely talented qb

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Super Mario and his brothers: Marcus Mariota is a great quarterback, but an even better person. To encourage him to blossom as a leader and a player, the Ducks should have him call the plays (Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports photo).

Today Scott Frost told Andrew Greif that he will probably never have another quarterback like Marcus Mariota in his coaching career.

He’s probably right. Mariota’s a combination of talent, character and humility that comes along once in a generation, although Morgan Mahalak and Travis Waller look like very good ones for the the future.

As good as he is, the Oregon coaches are challenging Mariota to improve in two main areas. They want him to become a more vocal and assertive leader, and improve his completion percentage, chiefly by being sounder and more consistent with his footwork.

Mariota also had 11 fumbles last year, and he has to be more careful with the ball, although the Ducks only lost three of those.

In terms of his leadership, there is a revolutionary way the Ducks could take advantage of their studious and painstakingly prepared quarterback, who is a warrior in the film room and the academic center as well as having a terrific arm and 4.5 speed at 6-4, 220.

Let him call the plays.

Quarterbacks haven’t really done so since the era of Johnny Unitas, Joe Namath and Dan Fouts, but Mariota is a special case.

He knows the Oregon offense as well as the coaches. He already does so anyway to a degree because the Ducks run a lot of package and combination plays that require him to make a read, different options on the same play.

Just give him control of the whole deal, timeouts, any stoppage of play. They should still have the signal team on the sideline to give the opponent more to think about it. When he confers with coaches after a series or at a particular moment, let him take the lead. “I want to run X, I want to throw Y. I think Thomas can beat their outside linebacker.”

A play has the greatest chance to succeed when the quarterback and the team have confidence in it.

Marcus is smart and mature. He can handle the responsibility, and he’ll use all his resources in conferring with the booth and the coaches on the sideline.

Go old school. Let him run the offense and distribute the ball. He’s superbly prepared and uniquely talented. Trust him and let him lead.

Dale Newton

About Dale Newton

The Ducks Stops Here is a site for opinions, commentary and analysis on Duck football. I've written it since 2010. Reader contributions are welcome and can be submitted at