Days after Stanford’s big upset of Oregon, implications continue to be felt, including the prospect for help elsewhere for both teams’ big-bowl chances. Here’s another one worth exploring — the injury status of Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. It underscores the need for a forward-thinking, league-mandated injury report each week.
On game day, there was some buzz about Mariota and a knee problem. He came out wearing a brace (as he had in his previous game), and he proceeded to play poorly. After the game, Oregon didn’t specifically acknowledge the injury, but between the lines, a couple of Ducks coaches and Mariota did.
As usual, the obfuscation seems rather foolish. If there’s an Exhibit A for the purported value of concealing an injury, it ought to be this game. Did Stanford have any knowledge of Mariota’s problem? We may never know. But if it didn’t, it surely didn’t take a Fulbright scholar to figure out the Ducks tilted their game plan away from running Mariota, and Stanford is as bright as anybody.
As for the bigger issue — whether knowledge by Stanford would have endangered Mariota — it seems hard to make a case that Oregon’s policy of non-disclosure made him less vulnerable playing on a bad knee against an excellent defense.
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What’s wrong with this picture? Thousands in attendance and millions of people watched that game knowing little or nothing about Mariota’s injury status. It’s those millions that fuel mammoth TV contracts that are pivotal in paying coaches multi-million-dollar salaries. It’s some of the same coaches who refuse to be part of a league-wide injury report, hiding behind things like HIPAA privacy laws that were never intended for such purposes.
The ACC has such an injury report. And it seems to work pretty well in the NFL. Time for some similar enlightenment on the Left Coast.
What we learned
Turns out, we didn’t know Jack. UCLA coach Jim Mora had said early this season that Bellevue High product Myles Jack could get some snaps at running back. We didn’t guess that even as Jack is putting together a standout freshman season at linebacker, he would emerge on offense and contribute a desperately needed 120 yards rushing — on six carries — as UCLA toppled Arizona.
Lane Kiffin looks worse by the day. USC interim coach Ed Orgeron moved to 4-1 since Kiffin was bounced with a 62-28 win at Cal in which the Trojans scored six touchdowns on plays of 30 or more yards.
The Bears seemed to be playing hard, which might be the bad news.
“When I took this job, I knew it wasn’t going to be rainbows and puppy dogs,” said Sonny Dykes, Cal coach, whose team is winless against FBS competition.
“Yes,” wrote San Jose Mercury News columnist Mark Purdy, “but did he expect so many blinding dust storms and feral pigs?”
Travis Wilson needs a hug. Utah played valiantly in a 20-19 loss against Arizona State, and coach Kyle Whittingham laid his offense’s problems at the feet of his offensive line.
Whittingham claimed Wilson, his quarterback, had recovered from a hand problem during a bye week. Supposedly healthy, he had a 6-for-21 day, which brings him to a three-week total, playing in and out of the injury, of 14 completions in 44 attempts with six interceptions for 187 yards.
Oregon has a Stanford problem. But you knew that. Rarely can a quality defense be so certain something is coming and yet be so powerless to stop it. Seven times in their game, the Cardinal faced a third-and-two or less, and seven times it ran Tyler Gaffney for a first down.
Now for the battle of the beleaguered. Colorado, which hasn’t won a league game since it upset WSU in September of 2012, hosts California, which struggled to beat Portland State for its only victory of 2013. Tickets are going fast, but good seats are still available.
Washington visits UCLA Friday night in a game that will measure two programs’ seasons. Saturday’s best games are Stanford at USC and Oregon State’s drop-in at Arizona State, still the leader of the Pac-12 South.
Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or firstname.lastname@example.org