Posted on: February 21, 2011 12:17 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2011 12:18 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
LaMichael James has had quite a bit of success during his first two seasons at Oregon. In two years, James has rushed for 3,277 yards and 35 touchdowns, picking up the Doak Walker Award in 2010, and finishing behind Cam Newton for the Heisman Trophy. Of course, this has left many people in the state of Texas, where James is from, to ponder what life would have been like had James stayed in state to play his college football.
Particularly if he'd stayed home to play at TCU, which was the school that finished second to Oregon during his recruitment. Well, while accepting the Doak Walker Award over the weekend, James finally shared what the deciding factor was that sent him to the Pacific Northwest. Turns out that James felt disrespected by TCU.
Why? Well, you'd feel a bit disrespected yourself if TCU spent an entire weekend calling you "LaMarcus" instead of LaMichael.
During a radio interview in Dallas on Friday, James said that while he was on an official visit to TCU, a coach whom he would not name spent the entire weekend doing just that. Which is when James decided to turn his attention out of state, particularly to Oregon.
So let this be a lesson to coaches throughout the country. When you're spending time with a recruit, try to learn his name.
Posted on: February 18, 2011 1:30 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
With LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner returning, Josh Huff making his late-season surge, Lache Seastrunk coming off of his redshirt season, and mega-recruit De'Anthony Thomas set to arrive soon, the Oregon running back position looks as crowded as any in the country. This is likely why one Duck has decided it might be time to find a backfield that offers a little more breathing space.
Oregon confirmed today that Duck redshirt freshman Dontae Williams has requested and received a release from his scholarship . Like Seastrunk, Williams came to Eugene as a highly-regarded running back prospect out of Texas -- he attended the same Aldine (Tx.) high school as Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas -- but spent 2010 on the bench as James (yet another Texas native) and Barber hogged the carries.
With Williams reportedly behind Seastrunk entering the Ducks' upcoming spring camp, he decided it was time to look elsewhere for playing time. Possible landing spots include his old recruiting suitors much closer to home: Texas A&M, TCU, or Arkansas. The No. 22 "big back" in the class of 2010 according to Maxpreps' Tom Lemming, it seems likely Williams has the talent to make an impact wherever he lands once his transfer year is spent.
As for Oregon, it's one fewer option for Chip Kelly to turn to when it comes to distributing carries this fall ... but even after Williams' departure, no one will have more options to turn to all the same.
Posted on: January 11, 2011 2:33 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
We knew that the Oregon offensive line would be undersized against Auburn's front four, but we did not realize how badly they would lose the battle in the trenches on offense. Oregon played against some teams with big defensive lineman, but none were as skilled and powerful as Nick Fairley and the rest of the Auburn defensive line. Auburn was able to get penetration into Oregon's backfield all night long, and it crushed Darron Thomas' ability to read the field and let his options develop. Thomas did pull over several impressive plays in tough situations, including his 4th down completion to D.J. Davis to keep the game-tying drive alive.
But in the end, Oregon is a team that averages more yards rushing than anyone else in the nation. On Monday night, they were held to just 75 team rushing yards. Auburn forced the Ducks to throw the ball, and it made them uncomfortable to stray from their usual gameplan. It is impressive that Thomas was able to adjust to keep the Ducks in, but those two trips inside the ten yard line will leave a lot of "What if's" for the Oregon offense. GRADE: D+
The Oregon defense played almost as well as they could have in order to win the game. If their primary task was to stop Cam Newton, they did a pretty good job by only holding him to 64 yards rushing on 22 carries. They just didn't have much help from their offense, who continued to give the ball right back to Auburn after very little rest for the Ducks. Six of Oregon's eight second half drives were done in less than 2:30, giving the undersized defense little time to rest before heading back out to face true freshman Michael Dyer. The defense held strong and even was able to create the turnover they needed in order to tie the game, but the Ducks struggled to bring down Dyer as he gobbled up all 143 yards on his way to Offensive MVP. It is hard to ask for more from a defensive unit, but it was still not enough to secure the win for Oregon. GRADE: C
Credit Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Alliotti for preparing this defense for Cam Newton's many weapons. Unfortunately, they were not ready for Auburn's many weapons. Auburn's "bad" defense was grossly underrated, and Oregon was not able to make any in-game adjustments to counter the penetration that Nick Fairley & Co. were getting into the Oregon backfield. Without being able to establish their run on the ground, Oregon was forced to drift away from the script and try new ways to move the ball. Chip Kelly made some gutsy calls to fake punts and convert a couple of fourth downs, but not having a "go-to" play for those "…and Goal" situations has got to be scary for Oregon fans. The Ducks have rarely this season HAD TO HAVE a score like they on Monday. My guess is from now on they'll have that play dialed up. GRADE: D
Oregon is going to remember for a long time the two trips inside the 10 yard line that only produced 3 points. Combined with the two interceptions and six costly penalties, there were a lot of mistakes made on Oregon's end. Having said that, it is awfully impressive that it still took a field goal as time expired for Auburn to beat them. As many mistakes as the Ducks had, they still found ways to come up with big stops and clutch conversions to hang in the game. The one thing that Oregon will have going for them moving forward is a roster full of young talent. Darron Thomas, LaMichael James, and Kenjon Barner will all be back next year, and you can bet they will be hungry to get back to this game next year after losing the way they did. GRADE: B-
Posted on: January 11, 2011 2:04 am
Edited on: January 11, 2011 3:10 am
Posted by Adam Jacobi
This is uncomfortable, so let's just get it out of the way right now: Cam Newton did not win this game for Auburn. Oh, he made some good plays, and his overall numbers -- 20-34, 265 yards, 2 TD, INT, 22 rushes, 65 yards -- are certainly respectable. The fact is, though, that this game was only close because Newton missed two wide-open first-half touchdowns that could have blown the game open, and neither drive ended in points. Newton then injured his shoulder during the second half, and turned into a shell of his normal self. While he doesn't deserve a ton of scorn for his late fumble that let Oregon back into the game -- if a ball gets punched out from behind like that by someone you don't even see, well, what were you supposed to do? -- if Newton weren't running tentatively to begin with on account of that sore shoulder, does Casey Matthews still catch him from behind?
No, if anyone on the Auburn offense deserves praise, it's true freshman tailback Michael Dyer. Dyer put the team on his back in the second half, and finished with 143 yards (96 of which came in the second half) on 22 carries. Dyer wore Oregon's smallish defense down over the course of the game, and his roll over an Oregon defender on the last drive of the game led to a 37-yard gain that put Auburn in position to win the game. Again: he's a true freshman. That the SEC gets both him and Marcus Lattimore for two more years is, well, kind of unfair. Final Grade: B
Nick Fairley has a lot to learn about on-field maturity, but as a defensive tackle, he is an absolute nightmare to block. Fairley was instrumental in the Tigers' ability to control the line of scrimmage, registering three tackles for a loss, forcing numerous hurried throws, and opening up opportunities for his teammates when he drew double-teams. His draft stock skyrocketed today, even after a dumb (but not uncharacteristic) personal foul penalty for shoving LaMichael James in the facemask well after a play was dead.
Still, Oregon only rushed for 75 yards on 32 carries -- less than a quarter of the Ducks' rushing average coming into the game. It was the first time since last season's opener against Boise State that Oregon hadn't rushed for over 100 yards in a game. That is dominance. The 374 passing yards allowed? Not so dominant, of course, but Auburn spent the entire year getting shredded through the air and it never mattered. Same goes for tonight. Final Grade: B
Wes Bynum wasn't particularly challenged by his field goals, which is a good thing, and he put all his kickoffs to the goal line. Oregon got no free yards from poor kickoffs, and Auburn's punting was equally inhospitable -- Ryan Shoemaker put three punts inside the 20, had no touchbacks, and allowed only six punt return yards. In close games, details matter, and Auburn took care of the details on special teams tonight. Final Grade: A
For all the follies that usually surround collegiate game management, Gene Chizik did a very good job today. He let Gus Malzahn call an aggressive game without trying anything insane on offense, and none of his playcalls were worthy of scorn -- even that botched 4th and goal was a great call, and nobody was anywhere close to Eric Smith. Newton just failed to get the ball to him, for whatever reason. Speaking of Smith, though, his cheap shot on Dion Jordan that left the Duck bloodied near his eye was an outright disgrace, and he shouldn't have been allowed back on the field by the referees or by coaches. Smith would be injured early in the second half, rendering the point moot, but he shouldn't have been out there anymore in the first place. That's really the only gripe, though. Final Grade: A-
Auburn is your 2011 BCS Champion, and it achieved that by playing a team game. The secondary got torched at times, but the defense stiffened up as a whole in the red zone. Auburn's gameplan evolved nicely over the course of the game, adjusting for Newton's aches on the fly without completely neutralizing him. The game was sloppy at times, and closer than it had any right to be, but it was also scintillating at its peaks and Auburn was obviously a big reason why. Congratulations to Newton, Fairley, and the rest of the perfectly imperfect Auburn Tigers for their national championship. Final Grade: B+
Tags: 2011 BCS Championship, Auburn, Auburn BCS Championship, Auburn BCS Grades, Auburn Championship, Auburn Cheap Shot, BCS Championship, BCS Championship Bowl Grades, BCS Championship Game Cheap Shot, BCS Championship Grades, Bowl Grades, Cam Newton, Casey Matthews, Dion Jordan, Eric Smith, Eric Smith Cheap Shot, Gene Chizik, Gus Malzahn, LaMichael James, Marcus Lattimore, Michael Dyer, Nick Fairley, Oregon, Pac-10, Ryan Shemaker, SEC, South Carolina, Team Grades, Wes Bynum
Posted on: January 11, 2011 12:12 am
Edited on: January 11, 2011 12:28 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
It was not the game we expected, mostly. We figured it would be a classic, and we knew that it would be the ultimate test for two very well-coached teams. But we did not figure to see the kinds of defensive performances that we saw out of Oregon and Auburn on Monday evening in Glendale. Both defensive units came out well-prepared and charged up to make a statement, after hearing more than a month of hype for the opposing offenses. But when two teams are as good as Auburn and Oregon, you knew there were going to be big plays.
In the end, the most significant plays were made by true freshman Michael Dyer, who converted two game-clinching runs with the game tied at 19 with less than three minutes remaining. First there was the 37 yard scramble, where Dyer rolled over the defender without letting his knee touch the ground. When Dyer stood up and saw his teammates screaming at him to run, he took off down the field to put the Tigers in field goal range. Just when you began trying to center the ball for kicker Wes Byrum, Dyer broke loose again for 16 yards to move the ball to the 1 yard line. Byrum, Auburn's career scoring leader, finished his career by nailing the chip shot to give Auburn the 22-19 win the BCS National Championship.
Auburn become the fifth straight National Champion from the SEC, and amongst a season of off-field turmoil, no team has overcome more across the entire season than the Tigers. Auburn started the season ranked outside the Top 20 in the polls, and Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton was able to do what eight other Heisman winners weren't able to do - win in the BCS National Championship Game.
In the end Oregon will look back at this game and have a lot of regrets. Turning the ball over on downs at the goal line, six costly penalties, and simply being unable to impose their will against Auburn's defense will haunt Ducks fans when they remember this night against the Tigers. The Oregon defense did their part, holding Cam Newton in check as much as they could. But Auburn, as a team, was too good on this particular night. When Newton couldn't impose his will, Dyer did. When Auburn's offense couldn't score, the Tigers defense stepped up and kept Oregon from doing so as well. The focus may have been on a few players, but we were reminded on the biggest stage what kind of team effort it takes to win a National Championship.
Posted on: January 11, 2011 12:05 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
The Ducks were getting pounded by Auburn as the Tigers continued to eat clock with the rushing game. When Auburn held Oregon to another punt with 5:05 remaining someone had to make a big play in order to keep the Tigers from putting Oregon in a tight spot. After all, the Tigers used 4:26 of the game clock on the drive before. Then Casey Matthews punched the ball out of Cam Newton's hands in pursuit and caused the turnover that put Oregon back into the game.
The Ducks almost had it all end on 4th and 5 at the Auburn 40 yard line, but Thomas found D.J. Davis for a 29 yard reception to keep Oregon in the game. LaMichael James took the ball into the end zone three plays later after a Nick Fairley offsides call, and Oregon converted on the two-point conversion. We've got a classic folks, just as we expected.
Posted on: January 10, 2011 11:34 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
Auburn was able to capitalize on the goal line stand by pounding the ball with Michael Dyer, almost moving the ball into Oregon territory. But Oregon held Newton on 3rd down and forced the Tigers to punt. Pinned deep in their own territory, Oregon was forced to make plays as well. Thomas converted a 33 yard pass to David Paulson on 3rd and 18 to move the Ducks out near midfield.
But just like Oregon did the possession before, the Tigers shut down Oregon before they could get those few extra first downs to move into field goal range. After another punt, it seems like both coaches are ready to play the field position game as long as this stays a one score game. Credit the Auburn defense for dialing up the pressure on Darron Thomas near the end of that last drive, really making it uncomfortable for the quarterback to get through his progression.
Posted on: January 10, 2011 11:12 pm
Edited on: January 10, 2011 11:15 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
Just when Oregon needed a spark on offense, Chip Kelly dialed up another fake from the special teams script. On 4th down, punter Jackson Rice converted a fake punt pass Marvin Johnson to keep the drive alive. Darron Thomas kept the momentum going with a 44 yard pass to big receiver Lavasier Tuinei. But with their backs against the goal line, Auburn's defense held strong on four straight Ducks rushing attempts.
It was a huge stop for Auburn, who maintained their control of the line of scrimmage when they needed it most. Oregon now must force a quick punt or a turnover to keep Newton from getting in a rhythm. The Tigers have done a great job finishing opponents all season, and this is the time of the game when it usually happens. There has been no update on LaMichael James, who exited the game with a left hand injury. Oregon fans do wish he could have been out there for 4th and Goal. This could be very different game if he was.