“I really truly believe they have a chance to win.” Marcus Mariota doesn’t want to hear about Oregon’s chances to cover the spread against Georgia.
You can take a player out of Oregon, but it appears that sometimes you can’t take the Oregon out of a player.
For former Heisman Trophy-winner Marcus Mariota, it’s been a few years since he put on the green and yellow and stepped onto the field with an Oregon O on his helmet. That doesn’t take away the competitive fire that he has when asked about his former team, though.
On Monday, Mariota — the honorary captain for the Ducks in their game against Georgia on Saturday — met with media members to discuss the upcoming game. He told a story about that competitive fire coming out in the past couple of weeks.
“I did a radio show a couple of weeks back and obviously, a lot of Georgia Bulldogs fans. He looks at me and his question to me to start, it might have been midway through the whole thing, but his whole question was ‘Do you think they’ll cover?'” Mariota said. “I literally said ‘That was the most disrespectful question I’ve gotten in the last few years about covering.’ They’re gonna be competitive. I really truly believe they have a chance to win.”
Not many people are giving the Ducks a chance to win, with many betting lines pegging Oregon as somewhere between a 16-18 point underdog. With a new coaching staff, a new quarterback, an unproven RB and WR room, and a new defensive secondary, it’s understandable that Dan Lanning’s squad wouldn’t be the favorite against the defending national champions.
“I love that aspect. It’s kind of what we’re dealing with here in Atlanta,” Mariota said of both his Ducks and his Falcons. “I think that underdog mentality is dangerous and I’m excited for this team because when you strap up the pads and you go out there and play, it’s a whole different ball game and it doesn’t matter what other people think.”
A similar sentiment was shared by Lanning himself on Monday night during his pre-game press conference. Multiple times throughout the evening, Lanning pointed out that, despite the endless storylines about him facing his old team, neither he nor any of the coaches who know him will be the ones taking the field. It’s the players who have to execute in order to win.
That notion extends to the sports books who set the lines, many of whom want to see what Oregon has to offer before giving them respect on a national stage.
“We don’t really bother ourselves with the opinions of others,” Lanning said on Monday night. “Nobody in Vegas is gonna play in this game. Right? Our players are gonna play in the game so we know what everyone thinks of our team and that’s okay by us. Our goal is to go out there and play the best game we can possibly play. But that’s gonna have zero effect on this game. The opinions of others is not going to matter.”
If you are a gambling man, there may be some incentive to put a few shekels on the Ducks this Saturday against Georgia. The coaches and players sound confident — as they should — and are saying the right things leading up to the game.
Of course, it would be a problem if that weren’t the case.
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