Daily Archives: Dec. 28, 2012

Q&A with Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota



I got to spend some time talking with Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota as the Ducks began preparations for the Fiesta Bowl last week in Eugene. Mariota took over as starting quarterback for Darron Thomas this year and became the first freshman to earn All-Pac 12 honors since USC’s Todd Marinovich in 1989. Mariota, a Honolulu native, is 6-foot-4, 211 pounds and has thrown for 2,511 yards, 30 touchdowns and six interceptions. He’s also rushed for 690 yards and 4 touchdowns. Oregon and Kansas State square off in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 3 on ESPN, with kickoff scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

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Fiesta Bowl Countdown: Play of the Year, Kansas State football edition

Kansas State entered its road game against Oklahoma as a heavy favorite. Even though both teams were ranked, most expected the Sooners to make short work of the Wildcats. Oklahoma hadn’t lost to a ranked team at home since the Renaissance (not really, but it had quite a streak going) and it humiliated K-State a year earlier in Manhattan.

But all that went out the window when Justin Tuggle hit OU quarterback Landry Jones from behind, causing a fumble that resulted in a K-State touchdown.

As soon as Jarell Childs scooped up the loose ball and fell into the end zone to give the Wildcats a 7-3 lead in the second quarter, it was obvious they had a chance. They went on to win the game, the Big 12 and the conference’s automatic berth in the Fiesta Bowl.

How important was that play? Well, you could say it sparked K-State’s run up the national polls. The Wildcats weren’t in many close games this year, but that was one of them. It was also the most important, because it gave them a tie-breaker over the Sooners in the conference championship hunt. In my mind, that made it an obvious choice for K-State’s Play of the Year.

I asked Tuggle about that play for a story that ran in today’s paper, and though he didn’t think it alone sparked K-State’s winning streak he was glad he was able to make it.

“There are a lot of things that ignited this run. I’m glad people can look back and see that as maybe one of the reasons,” Tuggle said. “But there was a lot that went on this year. We had a lot of guys step up and make big plays. It’s big to be on a defense like that. We all swarm to the ball and go out there to make big plays. It’s really fun.”
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