Fortunately for Oregon, it appears the Ducks will have one of the best players in the country as they look to bounce back from their first loss of the season.
Marcus Mariota reportedly suffered a strained MCL in his left knee during a late-October win over UCLA. He played in last Thursday’s loss to Stanford, but was bothered by the injury throughout and left the field briefly because of it before returning.
After practicing Monday and taking all of the reps with the first-team offense, the quarterback replied “for sure” when asked if he would play against Utah Saturday.
Mariota does, though, seem resigned to the fact that the knee issue is something with which he’ll have to deal for the foreseeable future.
“My knee is what it is,’’ Mariota said according to The Oregonian. “That’s not an excuse. I’m not going to let it be an excuse.”
He also allowed that the injury could force him to sideline himself if it’s hurting the team.
“If it gets to that point, I will make that judgment,’’ Mariota said. “But I’ve been taught my whole life not to show weakness, and I’m not going to fade away from that.”
Not only did the loss to the Cardinal put a serious dent in the Ducks’ BCS title hopes, it also served as a blow to Mariota’s Heisman chances. Mariota entered Week 11 as the front-runner, but exited behind Florida State’s Jameis Winston and Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel in at least one poll of voters.