When asked Saturday night after his first career loss at Oregon how much this one hurts, redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota simply said “it hurts…it really hurts.”
But in that extremely difficult moment in front of dozens of cameras and reporters, you could also see the competitive fire that burns inside of Mariota that will no doubt take him on a long journey of success – at Oregon and beyond.
While Saturday’s loss to Stanford stings, Mariota will no doubt gather himself and his team and continue to strive to be the best and take positives from a very difficult moment in his young career.
That’s been his personality from the moment he put on an Oregon uniform.
“It’s not an easy one to swallow” explained Mariota. “There’s another game on the horizon,..that’s the way we look at it. Monday’s our next challenge and we’re just going to take it from there.”
Oregon saw their BCS title hopes slowly slip away with 90 seconds remaining in Saturday’s game. Oregon’s defense stood up to the tall task of slowing down the Cardinal run game, however it was the passing game the Ducks didn’t handle in the waning moments.
In the most crucial moment of the game, Stanford QB Kevin Hogan lofted a pass to tight end Zach Ertz over Duck cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu in the back of the end zone and in an instant the games momentum quickly changed when replay officials determined Ertz came down in bounds.
Although Stanford only tied the game at that point, you could hear the air come out of the Autzen Stadium crowd.
Momentum swings are a funny thing. Sometimes the stars are just aligned in your favor and that certainly seemed to be the case for the Cardinal.
Mariota and the Oregon offense simply couldn’t find their rhythm.
“They were loading up the box, and then dropping out of it” explained Mariota. ”So they were coming out with eight, seven guys in coverage. That didn’t leave a lot of open holes.”
Mistakes are part of life and part of the game of football. And during his press briefing, Chip Kelly re-affirmed that point.
Kelly told reporters he was anxious to see how his team would bounce back from defeat when the Ducks begin practice on Monday for Oregon State. Kelly explained character is gained from the ability to overcome lifes challenges and hurdles.
“As a group, it’s a test for us. We’ll find out more about this football team when we get to practice Monday, and we see how we handle this situation” said Kelly.
“They’ve handled success, and now it’s the first time they’ve faced adversity. We’ll see what they are.”
If his young quarterback has anything to say about it, it’s certain the Ducks will be just fine.
( Watch Marcus Mariota’s post game press conference by clicking the video box above )