Learning Curve Slightly Bent

We hear the term used all the time in sports: learning curve. We use it to describe how quickly a player picks up an offense, it can become a crutch used for poor play and often times it refers to the composure, or lack thereof a newcomer possesses.

For starting quarterback Marcus Mariota, the learning curve has seemed more a slight bend than a curve. It's taken him less than a full year on-campus to master a complex offense and come Saturday when the freshman makes his first start, don't expect to see much anxiety coming from his lanky frame.

"I can't recall seeing him rattled," said head coach Chip Kelly Tuesday. "He's a laid back dude."

Attribute it to his the low-key Hawaiian attitude or something inherent to his nature, either way he's got it. It's something so rare in such a young player that Kelly was asked to follow-up on the subject, but stood pat in his stance that he'd never seen his signal-caller rattled before.

Kelly says it helps him in practice, keeping him focused and poised throughout despite distractions. It's admirable; Kelly says and brings a certain level of consistency to his work that is uncommon in freshmen.

"He's the same all the time. It's a real admirable quality to have. There's a consistency to his approach every day."

One can only hope that the relaxed islander mentality will translate to a cool-winning breeze on the field.

CHIPPER NOTABLE QUOTABLES:

On holding back offensive schemes against lesser opponents:

"We never talk about keeping things in our back pocket. Our goal is to win this football game on Saturday. We don't look at the totality of our offense and say ‘Let's not show that yet'."

On the five freshman on the two-deep:

"We don't look at it as there's five freshman, it's just five kids who just got here who deserve to play."

On Bryan Bennett wearing white practice uniform instead of red no-contact uniform:

"There are a lot of guys who walk out there with different jerseys on. What you don't see behind the curtain, there's a lot of things that go on out there. A lot of guys change different color jerseys. Bryan is not the only guy who changes jerseys in practice. I would say that probably half of our team does."

On difficulties of preparing for a team with a new coaching staff:

"There are unknowns. But I don't look at it as difficult. I look at difficult as playing an unbelievable opponent. When you look at the film and you go ‘We can't stop that'."

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