Two years in a row, the Stanford Cardinal have been a thorn in the side of the Oregon Ducks.
Looking dominant and unstoppable offensively the entire year (both years) the Ducks have been absolutely stymied by the Stanford Cardinal defense, a defense that has got some legit prospects for the next level.
You can’t deny that Stanford is a talented team, obviously being ranked fifth in the country going into their showdown with the Ducks, but what is it they do so well that forces the Oregon offense, which is otherwise so unstoppable to completely screech to a halt?
That might be a question best served up to Ducks QB Marcus Mariota, who struggled mightily for a majority of the game against Stanford on Thursday night. Until Oregon got some lucky plays late, Mariota looked completely confused as the Ducks trailed 26-0 well into the fourth quarter.
The question NFL Draft pundits are wondering is, “Will this performance affect the stock of Mariota for the next level?”
In my opinion, I think you have to at least consider the fact that two years in a row, the most pro-ready defense Mariota has faced in mid-season form has absolutely shut the high-octane, up-tempo attack of Oregon down, and that’s something that NFL scouts will take notice of.
Mariota is still a legitimate top five overall prospect and top 10 lock as of right now if he declares for the draft, but there’s definitely some question marks from Thursday’s game that goes a lot deeper than what you might think.
The skill set of Mariota is still very, very impressive for his ability to sling the ball around and be a dual-threat from the QB position, but in two games against Stanford, Mariota has completed 58.8 and 56.8 percent of his passes, which included the desperation comeback numbers on Thursday.
I’m not going to push Mariota too far down my big board, if at all, but I think the questions that could be raised from his (and Oregon’s) poor performances against Stanford the last two years are certainly something to consider strongly.