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Jim Mora lauds Oregon's Marcus Mariota

By Tom Fornelli | College Football Writer

Jim Mora says Marcus Mariota has a 'rocket arm.'
Jim Mora says Marcus Mariota has a 'rocket arm.' (USATSI)

Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota is currently one of the favorites to win this year's Heisman Trophy, and for good reason. He's having a fantastic season at the most important position on the football field for a very good team.

And one of Mariota's biggest fans seems to be the coach of the team he'll be looking to beat this weekend, UCLA's Jim Mora. I think it's safe to say that if there were a Marcus Mariota Fan Club, Mora would join.

"I had a couple NFL guys ask me if he can play at the next level and I told them, 'Have you not watched him?'" Mora told the Los Angeles Times. "He's going to rip it up at the next level. He's ripping it up at this level. He's special.

"You watch his facial expressions, he never looks rattled. He's 6 feet 3 1/2, has a rocket arm, incredible intelligence, great poise, runs a 4.4, has a fearless attitude. It doesn't matter what system he's in, he'd be great."

It's hard to argue with Mora's assessment considering that so far this season Mariota has thrown for 2,051 yards, 19 touchdowns and no interceptions. He's also rushed for another another 493 yards and nine touchdowns. Impressive numbers on their own, but even more impressive when you realize he's usually not playing an entire game since the Ducks are blowing out opponents.

At the same time, though, you have to wonder if Mora isn't using the approach that former coach Lou Holtz used often during his time as a coach. Holtz was notorious for building his team's opponent up, making everybody from USC to some FCS school sound like it was the greatest team of all time.

After all, while Mariota is indeed a fantastic player -- and we think Mora is sincere in his compliments -- Mora does have a good quarterback of his own in Brett Hundley. Maybe he's just trying to motivate his own player to outplay Mariota on Saturday. He also goes on to say that his defense has a "fighting chance" against the Oregon offense.

It all sounds rather Holtz-ian to me.

 
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