Hold the phones and don’t panic yet, but maybe tell freshman quarterback Jeff Lockie to loosen up as Oregon sophomore quarterback Marcus Mariota declared himself ready to play against Utah Monday after practice.
Marcus Mariota says he will play vs Utah on Saturday.
"My knee is what it is, says Mariota about his injury. "That's not an excuse. I am not going to let it be an excuse."
Mariota practiced on Monday and he said he took part in drills, but did sport the familiar knee brace that's been used to stabilize it. He has had a knee issue the last two games and it flared up last Thursday down in Palo Alto against Stanford. At one point in the game late Mariota took a hard sack with three Stanford players falling on it and needed extra time to get off the field.
With some time to ‘flush the loss’ out of his system Mariota says his knee isn't an issue anymore, but then later said he couldn't talk about him being 100 percent healthy or not.
"That's something I can't talk about," he said.
Clearly Mariota is dealing with some kind of injury, to what extent, we will never know. At Washington earlier in the year Mariota suffered a minor knee injury that resulted in trainers attending to him, but he returned to the game in normal fashion. Two weeks later Mariota is believed to have injured the same knee again against UCLA in the first half. He returned to that game as well, but played the second half with a knee brace and didn't attempt any rushes.
Last week at Stanford Mariota was his usual self passing the ball as he finished with 250 yards and two touchdowns, no interceptions by the way. But he wasn't himself running the football. He had just six rushes for negative 16 yards, with three being sacks. He also fumbled once.
If Mariota can’t run Oregon’s offense full-go both Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich and Mariota agreed they’d need to pull him. Finding that point where he can’t help however appears to be tricky.
“We aren’t going to ‘put him at risk’ and we have a lof of confidence in the other guys,” says Helfrich. “If it leads to that point we have all the confidence in those guys.”
"If it gets to that point, I will make that judgment,'' Mariota said of when he can’t help Oregon’s offense. "But I've been taught my whole life not to show weakness, and I'm not going to fade away from that.''