By Rob Moseley
Venue: Moshofsky Center
Format: Helmets and jerseys
The Ducks aren’t going to ignore the obvious. And so, Saturday night’s win by USC over Stanford, putting Oregon back in the Pac-12 North driver’s seat, was addressed prior to practice Monday morning.
“Our guys know what happened,” UO coach Mark Helfrich said. “And again, it’s further evidence to handle our business.”
That was the task for practice today. “We just wanted to come out here, have a typical Monday and get ready for Arizona,” quarterback Marcus Mariota said.
“Now we control our own destiny,” he added. “But really it’s just one day at a time, like we always take it. To have an opportunity to possibly play in the Pac-12 championship game is huge. But we can’t overlook things. We can’t slip up and look past Arizona.”
The No. 5 Ducks (9-1, 6-1) take on the Wildcats (6-4, 3-4) on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. PT in Tucson. Mariota will be looking to extend a conference-record streak of 353 passes without an interception, which has helped him become the NCAA’s career leader in interception percentage at 0.97 percent, among players with at least 600 career attempts.
Mariota also is the NCAA career leader in pass efficiency rating at 169.21, for players with between 400 and 499 completions.
The question on everyone’s minds, of course, is how much of a run threat Mariota is based on his left knee trouble. Mariota had four carries against Utah, three of them sacks and one a scramble.
“I honestly don’t believe it’s affected my decision-making at all,” Mariota said. “Like I’ve said, it’s been the looks. The last couple weeks, defenses haven’t been giving me an opportunity to pull it (and keep the ball in the read-option). If Arizona starts crashing down (on running backs), I’ll make the most of the opportunity to run.”
Mariota said he practiced with a brace on the knee today, and wasn’t sure yet whether he’ll play with it again Saturday.
“Whatever I feel is best is what I’m going to do,” he said. “If I feel most comfortable in the brace, that’s what I’m going to do.”
Highlights: The day began with a “clutch” situation for the placekicking unit and Matt Wogan. They responded by drilling a 37-yard field goal. … Pharaoh Brown has some sticky, sticky hands. During one-on-ones he turned back to catch a pass and literally just palmed it with one hand. … A couple of absolute dimes from seven-on: touchdowns by Mariota to Bralon Addison, and Jeff Lockie to Chance Allen. Mariota hit Addison in the back of the end zone, over a leaping safety at the goal line, making for a very small window in which to complete the pass.
Other observations: Lane Roseberry and Kani Benoit are playing the role of Arizona star running back Ka’Deem Carey with the scout team this week. … After his breakout performance Saturday against Utah, linebacker Tyrell Robinson got more time in the two-deep this morning. … A light moment during kickoff drills, when stud coverage guy Erick Dargan fielded a kick, and starting return man De'Anthony Thomas got to him for a “tackle” in the non-contact drill, even forcing a fumble.