Almost every week, Stanford coach David Shaw delegates a backup quarterback to the scout team in practice who can best simulate the upcoming opponent.
Not this week.
Shaw’s search for somebody on the roster to mimic Marcus Mariota and Oregon’s up-tempo offense was deemed a lost cause. There’s nobody who could even come close.
“We have to sign somebody,” he joked.
Slowing down Mariota will be the top priority when sixth-ranked Stanford (7-1, 5-1) hosts No. 2 Oregon (8-0, 5-0) on Thursday night in a matchup of the winners of the past four Pac-12 championships.
The Cardinal handed Mariota his only loss last season, 17-14 in overtime in Eugene. Stanford’s victory ended Oregon’s three-year run as conference champion and dashed the Ducks’ national championship dreams — not to mention Mariota’s chances for college football’s most prestigious award.
Duplicating that performance might be even tougher.
Mariota has thrown for 2,281 yards and 20 touchdowns and run for 587 yards and nine touchdowns this season. He’s completing 64 percent of his passes and, perhaps most impressively, has not thrown an interception.
“I thought last year he was the best quarterback in the nation, and I feel the same way this year,” Shaw said. “I don’t care about stats. Stats don’t mean anything. You watch the film, you see a kid that makes every throw.”