EUGENE - Oregon freshman quarterback Justin Herbert had just tied a program record with 489 yards passing and gotten his first win as a starter for the Ducks.
He left Autzen Stadium to the sound of fans chanting his name, and coaches and teammates singing his praises.
But one would hardly know Herbert was having such a great day by his demeanor as he fielded questions from reporters following a 54-35 win over Arizona State that ended a five-game losing streak for the Ducks (3-5, 1-4 Pac-12).
The 6-foot-6 Herbert sat mostly stone faced, revealed no emotion and offered even less with his carefully chosen words devoid of feeling or heart. He appeared more like a judge presiding over a tough case. A politician contemplating policy. A student grappling with a tough test. He did not seem at all like a teenager who had grown up a Ducks fan while starring at nearby Sheldon High School and dreamed of moments like these.
So the question had to be asked: "Are you happy? Are you bursting inside?"
"I'm really happy to be here," Herbert replied with a smile while shifting in his chair, inducing laughter from observers. "I'm really happy to be a part of the team. And winning that game, that means a lot to me."
It's okay, Justin. We've all been through this with your hero, Marcus Mariota. Win or lose, Mariota often revealed little after games. During games, however, his play spoke volumes. The same can be said for Herbert, and there's little doubt that the Ducks are happy he's here.
He is their savior. The program, the floundering young players on the roster, and maybe most of all, the coaching staff, starting with coach Mark Helfrich.
Helfrich's employment at Oregon is in doubt, based on the lack of public support athletic director Rob Mullens has shown for his fourth-year coach in what will likely be the program's worst season since at least 2004 (5-6).
If Mullens is looking for signs of improvement from the team and a sign of hope that the future could be brighter, he need look no further than Herbert. All of the idiotic talk from Helfrich haters - and there are plenty - that he can't recruit or develop quarterbacks (even though he recruited and developed Mariota) has been eviscerated by the presence of Herbert, who when he is done could at least be considered the program's second-greatest quarterback of all time.
How the program could blow out Helfrich, and his staff, with Herbert in place and a ton of other young and inexperience players who should only get better, would defy logic.
"We always tell our quarterback that 'there's no off position on the quarterback switch,'" Helfrich said, "'for your team to be great, you've got to be great every single day."
Herbert, by all accounts, has been just that since he arrived to fall camp and began rapidly working his way up the depth chart.
If you're a Ducks fan you might want to see more personality from your new superstar savior. Then again, it's that same cool demeanor that has helped him get off to such a sizzling start three games into his career as a starter.
Herbert is unflappable. Nothing appears to faze him. Not ASU's blitz-happy defense. Not becoming a starter mid-season as a true freshman on a 2-3 team. Not getting destroyed 70-21 by Washington in his first start. Not throwing a game-losing interception in double overtime last week at Cal. And certainly not answering questions from probing reporters seeking to pull back the curtain just a bit to find out what makes him tick.
"We have a heart-rate monitor on him," UO quarterbacks coach David Yost said. "We know when it's high and when it's low. He's never too excited or too low."
Herbert might not ever become a quote machine but he is developing into a touchdown machine. In three starts (and five passes in mop up duty at Washington State), Herbert has thrown for 996 yards and 12 touchdowns (four on Saturday) with just two interceptions, and he has rushed for a touchdown.
"It's not a one-man show but that quarterback position is awfully important..." Helfrich said. "And he's going in the right direction. We can't anoint anybody anything at this point but we like where he's headed. We like his demeanor. We like how he works."
Herbert tied the single-game passing record set by Bill Musgrave in 1989. Not surprisingly, Herbert had no clue he had tied a record and certainly didn't know anything about the man whose record he tied.
"I didn't know that and I don't know as much about Bill Musgrave as I need to know," he said.
More important than his statistics was how he accumulated them. Herbert was in complete command on Saturday. He played the game from a mental standpoint far beyond that of a true freshman. He was sacked four times by ASU's variety of blitz packages, but that was a small price to pay for the numerous times he beat the blitz with quick passes, many turning into long gains, such as tight end Pharaoh Brown's 72-yard score on a delayed flat route during the first drive of the game.
That type of mental ability is allowing Herbert to maximize all of his immense physical gifts. Height. Athleticism. Speed. Quick release. Accuracy. Pocket awareness. He has it all.
Herbert appears to be all about winning. He took the loss at Cal very hard, given that his interception ended the game. Getting his first win as a starter made him feel a lot better.
"I think the best part was the win," he said, when asked about his record-tying day. "It meant a lot to our team and a lot to our coaches. So, that's what we're focusing on."
Even fans chanting his name had little impact on him.
"It was really cool but I just kind of tried to get off the field," he said. "It was a team effort and the rest of the team deserved all of the credit."
In a season filled with many dark moments and many questioning the direction of the program under Helfrich, there is no denying that the most important position on the team is in place and he will do great things.
The question is, can Herbert do enough in the team's final four games to make it a no-brainer that the coaching staff, which has been a part of so much success at Oregon, deserves a chance to turn the program around?
The answer here is an obvious, yes.
Then again, those who are upset about this one-season downturn haven't displayed the same level of class and demeanor shown thus far by a teenager who carries the fate of the program in his right arm but mostly is guardedly happy to be a part of the team he grew up a fan of, win or lose.