Oregon's Marcus Mariota talked refs out of penalizing UCLA LB

Most quarterbacks would go out of their way to demand a personal foul penalty for a late hit. Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota took the opposite tact Saturday, talking the Pac-12 officiating crew out of throwing a flag when he was hit out of bounds by UCLA linebacker Jordan Zumwalt in the Ducks' 42-14 win over the Bruins.

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UCLA outside linebacker Anthony Barr told reporters about Mariota's request to let the teams play during his media availability Monday, noting that Mariota earned some serious respect from the Bruins defense.

The anecdote makes Mariota look that much better and Zumwalt that much worse.

On two separate plays, Zumwalt, who had a game-high 14 tackles with two tackles for loss, gestured that he put Ducks running back De'Anthony Thomas to sleep after leveling the 5-foot-9, 169-pound junior behind the line of scrimmage in the second quarter. Two plays later, Zumwalt had another tackle on Thomas and waved goodbye.

"I was just caught up in the emotion," Zumwalt told the Los Angeles Times. "It was nothing personal. I wasn't trying to take shots or trying to celebrate. I was caught in moment."

The difference between the players reinforces what an unconventional attitude Mariota has for a star quarterback. Head coach Mark Helfrich said at Pac-12 media day that he was working to push Mariota to be more vocal and "assert himself more."

Whereas other quarterbacks lead through an outgoing force of personality, Mariota is decidedly laidback.

That demeanor, in stark contrast to, say, the demanding Peyton Manning or effervescent Cam Newton, might throw NFL coaches and executives off balance when they meet with Mariota whenever he declares for the draft.

Mariota has a dual-threat skill-set that some may struggle to project to the next level, but seeing how his cool approach fares on Sundays may be even more fascinating.

Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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