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2013 Fiesta Bowl: Oregon OC impressed with play of young QB

Oregon offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich lauds the play of quarterback Marcus Mariota in his freshman season.

Steve Dykes

Oregon Ducks offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich has had the luxury of having freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota step right into his role at the helm of the Oregon offense and perform on a high level all season, and in preparation for the Ducks' showdown with the Kansas State Wildcats in the Fiesta Bowl, Helfrich is singing Mariota's praises.

"He's an awesome guy to be around," Helfrich said during a press conference. "Very smart, conscientious, tough. I don't think he's going to be one of those guys that sits back and says, 'Look what I did.' It will be, 'Look what I did at this point, what else is out there.'"

Helfrich said he was especially impressed by the way that Mariota responded to a program that expects its freshmen to "put their foot on the gas" from the start.

"There's been some other guys that we haven't been able to expand their role, and that's normal," Helfrich said. "[Mariota] is not normal. I think more than anything, we just tried to keep pushing his envelope. He's been a special guy since he stepped on campus."