This was never really a close contest as the Ducks simply field much more talent than the Buffs, but there were plenty of noteworthy takeaways from prospects on both teams. Mariota was up and down, Richardson padded more stats, and one under the radar prospect put together some quality film against top competition.
(RsSoph) Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon, (#8), 6’4, 215
It is worth noting that out of 18 games played (including Saturday’s), Mariota has only participated in 4 full games as a result of recurring blowouts. Nitpickers will allude to this during the draft process, but how many pressure situations or drives has he faced in his career? As for his performance Saturday, he was up and down by his standards. While it’s not a glaring weakness, his touch downfield continues to suffer when he loses discipline with his footwork and balance inside and outside of the pocket. He misfired on a handful of wide open receivers throughout the game on routes beyond 15 yards. He seems to lose this discipline when he abruptly transitions from runner to passer as well as when he locates a target at the last second. Of course, the good was there as well, making plays with his feet and hitting his progressions with ease for the most part.
(JR) Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado, (#6), 6’1, 170
Richardson is a fun prospect to watch because he is so quick at the line and he eats up ground quickly to consistently get behind defenses. He put up another big time performance against the best defensive backfield he’s seen this year. You would never guess he’s coming off season-ending ACL surgery by the way he stretches the field and cuts in his routes. His best play was against Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, one of the nation’s best cornerbacks. Richardson was facing off man coverage and quickly got hip to hip with IEO on a go route. Despite being held, Richardson ran through the contact and extended his free long arm out to make a spectacular one handed grab while forcing an interference flag. His wiry frame is worrisome but he’s shown outstanding coordination and quick twitch release ability at the line when corners try and press him, which is promising.
Chidera Uzo-Diribe, OLB, Colorado, (#96), 6’3, 250
Uzo-Diribe is a DE/OLB prospect who projects best on the strongside of a 34 or even in a LEO position. He also has plenty of experience playing with his hand in the dirt and could add depth to a 43 in a 5 technique. Uzo-Diribe can stack the edge and showed impressive instincts and assignment discipline against Oregon’s elaborate run designs. He finished the game with 8 tackles, a forced fumble and 3 tackles for loss, two of which he used his quick first step to split blocks and closing burst to track down the ball carrier behind the line. He is also the cousin of Osi Umenyiora.
(JR) Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon, (#14), 5’10, 190
IEO faced his most challenging matchup of the season when lined up across Colorado’s Richardson. The good news for Ekpre-Olomu is that much of Richardson’s production came away from his side of the field. However, his lack of elite long speed was exposed somewhat by Richardson. As a result, he was forced to play more physical with the receiver through the route and drew a pass interference call on one downfield play where it looked like he was going to get beat.
Josh Huff, WR, Oregon, (#1), 5’11, 205
Huff had a solid day accounting for 2 touchdowns. He will be a fun COG for NFL offensive coordinators. He’s built like a running back and lined up everywhere against the Buffs attacking the defense on fly sweeps, as a read option back, and catching shovel passes underneath.
Wade Kelikipi, DT, Oregon, (#92), 6’3, 295
This is an ideal gap occupier from the 0 or 1 technique who quietly plays an important role for the Ducks. His primary responsibility is to occupy multiple linemen so lanes will open up for their athletic linebackers to fill on stunts and twists. He showed quick strong hands and was disruptive all game, occasionally sending blockers to the ground. His lack of explosiveness and athleticism suggests he’s simply a role player at the next level.