Marcus Mariota’s 7 Fumbles and 4 Interceptions in 2014

Marcus Mariota’s draft value has been all over the board with many believing he will be picked second overall later this April. While everyone is talking about Jameis Winston’s 18 interceptions in 2014, Marcus Mariota’s fumbling issues have been documented since he started for the Oregon Ducks in 2012. Since Mariota became the starter, he has fumbled the ball 27 times with 11 of them lost to the opposing team. In this film breakdown I wanted to take a closer look at his seven fumbles and four interceptions in his 2014 campaign.

Marcus Mariota’s 2014 Game Logs courtesy of

Play 1 (Fumble)
Opponent: Washington State
Situation: 3rd and 9 at ORE 37
Description: Q1 – (7:35) Marcus Mariota sacked by Ivan McLennan for a loss of 12 yards to the Oregn 25 Marcus Mariota fumbled, recovered by Oregn

Washington State brings five pass rushers in an overload blitz from the right side of the offensive line. RG76 Pisarcik gets dominated instantly off of the snap by a great bullrush by one of WSU’s inside linebackers. DT96 Cooper runs a stunt from the 3-tech position. NT98 Pole does a great job of splitting through the A-gap between the center and the left guard who should be combo-blocking, all while RB21 Freeman misses on his cut block to stop OLB3 McLennan on the right edge who actually gets the strip after DT96 Cooper slows Mariota down with a leg tackle.

From Mariota’s perspective this is a busted play from the start, but since his first read is on the left side of the field he doesn’t sense the pressure until it’s right in his face (admittedly quickly since the bullrush was just that good on the right guard). Since the right side of the offensive line starts collapsing this forces Mariota to tuck the ball scramble to the left, but as Mariota is moving to the outside of the pocket he doesn’t hold the ball high and tight allowing OLB3 McLennan access to the strip.

Play 2 (Fumble)
Opponent: Arizona
Situation: 1st and 10 at ARI 33
Description: Q2 – (4:46) Marcus Mariota sacked by Dan Pettinato for a loss of 2 yards to the Ariz 35 Marcus Mariota fumbled, forced by Dan Pettinato, recovered by Ariz Parker Zellers , return for 0 yards

Arizona is in their 3-3 defensive front in this play with 0-tech NT93 Zellers shooting the strongside A-gap, 5-tech DE84 Gilbert rushing from the left edge of your screen, and DT90 Pettinato rushing from the 4i-tech position on the right side of your screen. Mariota takes the snap from shotgun and fakes the handoff to his runningback.

C55 Grasu pushes NT93 Zellers to the ground after he gets partially tripped by the left guard while shooting the gap seen here:

Meanshile, DT90 Pettinato gets a free shot at Mariota since Mariota’s focus is down the field.

Watch RG54 Stevens specifically throughout this play. He 100% has no idea what is happening after C55 Grasu takes care of NT93 Zellers. LG72 Yruretagoyena sees Pettinato but it’s too late and Mariota is in the way so he can’t block him, so Mariota gets destroyed from behind. Out of all the fumbles, this is the only one I’m okay with as Pettinato levels Mariota leaving him on the ground incapacitated for a few seconds after the play is over.

Play 3 (Fumble)
Opponent: Arizona
Situation: 1st and 10 at ORE 35
Description Q4 – (2:20) Marcus Mariota sacked by Scooby Wright III for a loss of 1 yard to the Oregn 34 Marcus Mariota fumbled, forced by Scooby Wright III, recovered by Ariz Scooby Wright III , return for 0 yards

Arizona is still in their 3-3 defensive front. MLB33 Wright rushes from the 5-tech position at the top of your screen. After the play-action fake to the running back, Mariota steps up into the gap between the right tackle and the right guard. RT62 Pierson had good positioning on MLB33 Wright, but once Mariota scrambled forward he was able to shed his block and reach out to strip Mariota.

Mariota has his eyes down the field and looks like he is considering throwing the ball to his slot receiver running a hitch route, but the receiver is completely covered. First this a good strip by Wright, and Mariota actually does a good job of getting depth away from RT62 Pierson, but once Mariota turns towards the sideline Wright has a free shot at the ball. This fumble went to the booth and they determined that Mariota lost the ball before his knee touched the ground.

Edit: As pointed out by reddit user “hythloday1” in this comment, the offensive line was decimated in the beginning of the season due to injuries and it forced backups and redshirt freshman into starting roles before they were ready.

Play 4 (Fumble)
Opponent: UCLA
Situation: 2nd and 10 at UCLA 23
Description: Q3 – (9:13) Marcus Mariota run for 3 yards, fumbled, fumble recovered by Mariota at the UCLA 20, returned 20 yds for a TD, (Matt Wogan KICK)

In this play, Mariota runs zone read-option to the left and just bobbles the handoff after faking it to the runningback. Fortunately for Mariota the ball is easily containable so he scoops it up and is able to still run through the giant hole on the left edge of the offensive line left by LOLB51 Wallace crashing the run and ILB6 Kendricks not realizing the handoff was a fake.

Play 5 (Interception)
Opponent: CAL
Situation: 1st and 10 at CAL 12
Description: Q2 – (2:01) Marcus Mariota pass intercepted, touchback. Stefan McClure return for no gain

This is Mariota’s first inteception on the season and first in eight complete games. Mariota from shotgun fakes the handoff to his runningback in the backfield and instantly finds WR5 Allen on the slant route over the middle of the field.

The slant is wide open because CB37 Dozier is completely picked by WR85 Stanford on his go route from the slot. LB25 Anoa’i sits in the underneath zone reading Mariota’s eyes and tips the ball into the air for an easy interception by SS21 McClure in the endzone. This was a designed play to WR5 Allen and Mariota needs to read the underneath linebacker to determine how he should throw the ball, but he misses him completely. Although slant routes are usually thrown quickly and with a bullet pass, there is nobody within 10 yards of Allen so an easier touch pass would have still have scored them the touchdown instead of resulting in this interception.

Play 6 (Fumble)
Opponent: CAL
Situation: 1st and 10 at ORE 20
Description: Q3 – (1:05) Marcus Mariota run for a loss of 2 yards to the Oregn 18 Marcus Mariota fumbled, recovered by Oregn Marcus Mariota

Just like play 4 this is a botched handoff/keeper on a zone read-option sweep. Mariota is lucky he is able to fall on the ball with all the other defenders in the vicinity.

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Samuel Gold

Sam founded NFL Breakdowns after working his way through the journalist farm system and is enjoying life in the big league. Growing up outside of Washington, D.C., Sam didn’t choose the Redskins, the Redskins chose him. Out of a love for the game and an insatiable curiosity to determine why his beloved team was underperforming, Sam turned to studying film in NFL Breakdowns.