Marcus Mariota threw for 169 yards and two touchdowns and the Oregon offense looked as potent as ever in the Ducks’ first spring game under new coach Mark Helfrich.
Bralon Addison had eight catches for 136 yards, Mariota completed 13-of-15 passes and the White team defeated the Green team 65-10 Saturday.
Oregon went strictly with an offense (white) vs. defense (green) format because of nagging injuries piling up.
The scoring system heavily favored the offense, admitted Helfrich, the former offensive coordinator who took in mid-January when Chip Kelly left for the Philadelphia Eagles.
”Coach just apologized to the defense for that,” said Addison, a sophomore receiver who has drawn praise from coaches and teammates for his performances in practice this spring. ”Those guys have been tearing us up all spring so they kind of know it was just the scoring system.”
Still, the offenses put up nine touchdowns and 802 yards up against a defense that essentially knew what was coming.
The offense under Mariota looked to be in midseason form. The tempo was fast, the scores came quickly and sophomore looked as comfortable as ever directing the team to three TDs on four drives.
”Today was chance to go out there with the offense and show what we’ve been doing and how we’ve progressed,” said Mariota, who last year in the spring game was competing with Bryan Bennett for the starting job. ”It was a lot of fun today.”
He completed his first three passes for 32 yards and also rushed for 16 on the opening drive of the game, which ended with a 2-yard run into the end zone by Byron Marshall.
All told, the offense needed just 2:09 and nine plays to go 84 yards for a 7-0 lead.
Mariota was just as sharp on his second drive. He went 4 for 4 including a 7-yard scoring pass to Josh Huff to cap a six-play, 53-yard drive in just 1:43.
Mariota’s day concluded one play into the second quarter after he ended a seven-play, 60-yard drive with a 16-yard pass to Huff. That drive took just 1:49.
With that, redshirt freshmen backups Jake Rodrigues and Jeff Lockie traded series through the third quarter. Lockie finished with 217 passing yards and two touchdowns on 22 of 28 passing. Rodrigues was 13 for 19 with 165 yards and two TDs as well.
”We had a good rhythm going and that’s always really key in this offense,” Mariota said. ”Once you get into a rhythm, especially in this offense, it’s kind of hard to stop it.”
Running back De’Anthony Thomas was among those who sat out Saturday’s game, though he was in uniform and an active cheerleader for the offense from the sidelines.
The junior all-purpose scoring threat, who has also been running track this spring, is expected to get more carries this season with the departure of Kenjon Barner. Thomas led the Ducks with 45 receptions last season.
The leading rusher on Saturday was Marshall, who had 60 yards on six carries. The sophomore rushed for 447 yards and four touchdowns in 2012 and is also expecting a bigger role this fall.
”I’m just going out there trying to work hard,” said Marshall, who had a 26-yard run on the first series of the game.
Other anticipated starters who missed Saturday’s game included safety Avery Patterson, cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, defensive tackle Ricky Havili-Heimuli and linebacker Tyson Coleman.
”Other than the head coach’s inept scoring system, obviously very happy our guys competed and ended up being injury free on the day,” Helfrich said. ”We got the guys in that we wanted to see. Had a great day.”
The game was also played in front of smaller crowd than in recent years, with nearly the entire north side of Autzen closed because of an improvement project in process outside the stadium.
Oregon’s spring game drew a record crowd of 44,129 in 2012. The announced crowd Saturday was 36,588.