Tag:Darron Thomas
Posted on: November 26, 2011 7:00 pm

QUICK HITS: Oregon 49, Oregon State 21

Posted by Bryan Fischer

OREGON WON. The Beavers had won just three games all year but that didn't mean they were to be taken lightly by the Ducks in the Civil War. It looked like Oregon came out flat and uninspired early in the game however, missing several chances to easily take control of the game with two early interceptions of Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion. But, as they've done countless times, a few quick scoring drives put the game away as home team not only won their traditional rivalry game but put up some style points heading into next week's Pac-12 Championship game. 

WHY OREGON WON: The defense did a good job against Mannion and the Beavers' passing attack but Darron Thomas starting hitting his targets in the second quarter to really get the offense going. A week after having his struggles against USC in the first home loss ever under Chip Kelly, Thomas tossed touchdown passes to David Paulson, De'Anthony Thomas, Kenjon Barner and Colt Lyerla on the way to a 25 for 38 and 295 yard day. LaMichael James had no issues on the ground, rushing for 143 yards and a touchdown before hurting his wrist late in the third quarter.

WHEN OREGON WON: After two interceptions, Mannion bounced back with a 58-yard touchdown pass to Jovan Stevenson to even the score at 7-all. The Ducks came right back and turned on the jets with a few big plays on back-to-back scoring drives of 75+ yards led mostly by Thomas' passing. Oregon added a third touchdown drive right before halftime to put things away as it was much of the same in the second half - all green, all the time.

WHAT OREGON WON: The win secured the North division for the Ducks and hosting duties for the first ever Pac-12 Championship Game, which will be Friday at Autzen. Though they are out of the national title race - baring complete and utter chaos - the Rose Bowl is still a pretty good consolation prize for Oregon. Beat UCLA next week and flower shops around Eugene will be out of red roses.

WHAT OREGON STATE LOST: Another loss in a disappointing season as the Beavers fall to 3-9 in 2011. Mike Riley certainly had higher expectations but the team had to replace a lot from last year's mediocre squad and it showed. Although James Rodgers has now played his final game in orange, it's an encouraging sign for the offense to see the progress Mannion has made in the passing game as a redshirt freshman. The defense needs a lot of work as well, just one of many things to work on in what should be a long offseason.

Posted on: November 19, 2011 8:55 pm

Should LeBron James be Oregon's starting QB?

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Say this about Oregon: the athletic department's not shy about, well, anything. We're talking about Nike's playground here, and if Nike does anything, it does it big. Witness, if you will, this very special guest on the sidelines for Saturday's game against USC.

Now, LeBron James is just there visiting; it's not like he's in pads. Oh man, what if he was in pads, though? What if he was going to play for Oregon? He was throwing passes, so... what if he was going to play quarterback? WHAT IF LEBRON JAMES WERE OREGON'S STARTING QUARTERBACK RIGHT NOW? LET'S TALK ABOUT THIS.

PROS: The most athletic athlete ever.
CONS: What, are you serious? He can't be their quarterback. This is insane. 
PROS: Never went to college so he's probably eligible.
CONS: No he's not! He's a professional athlete.
PROS: NBA's locked out. He has a ton of time.
CONS: He has a ton of endorsements, too. Is he just going to give all those up?
PROS: Can you imagine, LeBron James in the same backfield as LaMichael James. LBJ and LMJ.
CONS: OK, how about this: he's not a student at Oregon so how could he possibly be a student-athlete for Oregon?
PROS: Do you think LeBron and LaMichael are related? I bet they are. Makes sense.
PROS: Has the physical frame of a Byron Leftwich, with the height to see over the line and not get "lost in the trees."
CONS: Has never played quarterback in his life? Hello?
PROS: Probably knows a ton of celebrities.
PROS: It would be so cool to see a 6'8", 260 guy run a read option, admit it.
CONS: But he can't possibly know how to run a read option. That's the thing.
PROS: Can't possibly be worse at making the right reads than Darron Thomas was in the BCS Championship.
CONS: Well, that's ridic... rid... actually, that's a good point.
PROS: Wouldn't it be awesome to see him do the "dunk on the goal posts" move after a touchdown?
CONS: OK, yeah, it would. It would be really awesome.
Posted on: November 13, 2011 11:59 pm

Pac-12 Winners and Losers: Week 11

Posted by Bryan Fischer

A handy recap of who really won and who really lost that you won't find in the box score.

WINNER: Phil Knight

Before Saturday's Oregon-Stanford game, commissioner Larry Scott presented the Pac-12 Championship Trophy, fitting considering the game to be played a few minutes afterward would pretty much decide who will be raising it for the first time ever. Right as Scott was concluding his presentation however, Nike boss and Oregon uber-booster Phil Knight strolled in, walked right by the trophy and into his box with just a slight glance at the regular season's ultimate prize. He looked to be in a good mood and it's hard to blame him; not only is he filthy rich, he has degrees from both Stanford and Oregon so he couldn't really go home a loser. But thanks to the result on the field, his beloved Ducks will likely be raising that trophy he walked by after winning their 19th straight conference win.

LOSER: Andrew Luck's supporting cast

Drop. Drop. Sack. Pressure. Missed field goal.

It was not a pretty outing for the Cardinal Saturday night and especially not for the presumed Heisman Trophy front-runner that lead them to a spotless record, Andrew Luck. The defense had plenty of issues keeping up with Oregon's speed and allowed too many big plays, forcing the offense to play from behind the whole game. Luck's normally reliable tight ends dropped several passes, including a few easy ones on third downs, and the lack of speed at the wide receiver position was evident when there was nobody to stretch the field and nobody could create separation. As badly as the previously impeccable quarterback played in building up the nation's longest winning streak, he failed to live up to expectations against the Ducks - 271 yards, three touchdowns but two interceptions - in large part because it looked like he was the only good player on the field wearing red.

WINNER: Parkas

There was something in the air on the West Coast Saturday and whatever it was, you need a heavy coat to protect you from it. The weather at most of the Pac-12's games outside of the one in Palo Alto was not good to say the least. There were sustained winds of 45 miles per hour (and gusts all the way to 70!) in Colorado, Washington brought Seattle's weather down to Los Angeles, it was rainy and snowy in Pullman with temps in the 30's and UCLA played Utah in a snow game. It wasn't the greatest weekend to head out to a game but coat sales went through the roof in just about every campus bookstore.

LOSER: Coaches' sense of security.

Just a few weeks ago, people were talking about how Dennis Erickson had won his way off of the hot seat and maybe even into a contract extension. Thanks in large part to beating Erickson, many thought Rick Neuheisel had bought himself some time. Tim Kish destroyed Neuheisel on national television had some buzzing. It's the bottom of the Pac-12 circle of life and it's cost each of the three any sense of security about their job status. Even Paul Wulff, who pulled off maybe his biggest win since taking over in Pullman, is no sure thing to return next season. You could end up seeing as many as five schools change coaches in the offseason, a notable contrast to the relative stability the conference has had.

WINNER: The Quack Attack

In the battle of speed versus size, it's safe to say that in the Pac-12 speed always trumps size. Oregon's fast-paced attack with speedy running backs and receivers in space have been unstoppable in conference play, winning 19 straight games (only three by less than double digits). Chip Kelly is also aggressive, going for it on fourth down a few times and calling a few risky screen plays after Darron Thomas made about 15 bad decisions on the first one he called. It's not just that they have home run threats, the Ducks force other teams to game plan much differently than any other team in the country. If you happened to see DeAnthony Thomas racing up the sidelines in sixth gear while everyone in Cardinal looked like they were in first, that's just the Quack Attack at work.

LOSER: The Pac-12 South

With USC ineligible for the South title, the race to represent the division in the Pac-12's first ever title game is quickly becoming a race to the bottom, not the top. Arizona State was thought to have control and seemed destined to beat the Oregon/Stanford winner in early December. Then they lost to UCLA late at the Rose Bowl, putting a lot more scenarios on the table. Both lost Saturday, keeping the Bruins - somehow - in control of their destiny. Even Utah isn't out of the race as it looks like three teams could end the season at 5-4 in the division with the Trojans actually sitting atop the standings. A mess? Yes, and one reason why the Ducks are a shoe in for another Pac-12 title.

WINNERS: Coug'n it

Washington State had lost five in a row before hosting Arizona State team and thanks to some wet, snowy conditions pulled off a big upset that had to give some hopes for every Cougars fan out there. Freshman quarterback Connor Halliday ran the offense well against a solid Sun Devils defense, passing for 494 yards and four touchdowns despite the conditions to set a freshman school record. The defense made a few late stops in the 4th quarter and you could see signs of life - despite a rash of injuries - up in the Palouse. It still looks like a long shot to get bowl eligible but stranger things have happened. Still, the losing streak is over, it's unlikely they'll finish as the conference bottom-dweller and Paul Wulff might have earned himself another season with the signs of progress.

LOSER: Steve Sarkisian

Returning to his old stomping grounds at the Coliseum, Sarkisian ended up being the one getting stomped on. It wasn't pretty, a 40-17 loss, and it was made even worse by the fact that the offense was held to just 265 yards, had a safety and gave up six sacks. Sarkisian is close friends with USC head coach Lane Kiffin and the two talked afterward but still had pain Sark that he not only lost but was routed. The Huskies are bowl eligible for the second season in a row but need to turn things around after back-to-back losses.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: November 12, 2011 11:37 pm

QUICK HITS: Oregon 53 Stanford 30

Posted by Bryan Fischer

PALO ALTO, Calif. -- The Game of the Century, West Edition, featured plenty of defensive plays, mistakes on special teams and one of the teams ready to press for a rematch in the BCS national championship game. The only difference between that tussle in Tuscaloosa last week and this defacto Pac-12 championship in the Bay Area? There were touchdowns. Plenty of them.

Oregon's speed went over, around and - at times - through Stanford's size as the Ducks ended the nation's longest winning streak with a 53-30 win over their division foe to take control of the conference title race. Both teams got off to their normal slow start in the first half but the Ducks, who are now 24-0 when leading at halftime under Chip Kelly, utilized big plays from Darron Thomas, LaMichael James, DeAnthony Thomas and Josh Huff to pull away from the Cardinal in the second half.

The most impressive performance of the night came from the Oregon defense that constantly put pressure on Andrew Luck and seemingly brought the Heisman Trophy front-runner back to the pack, of which James might have run his way back to. Without the team's top wide receiver (Chris Owusu) and top tight end (Zach Ertz), Luck was forced to throw into coverage often after his receiving corps could not create much separation, tossing two interceptions, one of which was a pick-six. Without a speed threat to guard against, Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti pressed his cornerbacks and used safety help over the top, limiting Stanford's bread and butter offense of quick short and intermediate throws.

That didn't mean Luck and company couldn't move the ball or get stops on defense. They just didn't do enough. It's not hard to argue that this was Stanford's biggest game in decades but they never could do enough to slow down Oregon, who proved that they're the Pac-12's best team and well on their way to their third straight conference title.

They even got a glimpse of the trophy, as commissioner Larry Scott officially presented it before the game in the press box. Given the way the South is playing out (UCLA lost, Arizona State and Utah are unranked, USC is ineligible), you wouldn't blame the Ducks' uber-booster Phil Knight for asking if he could take it home with him on his private jet.

He'll have to wait a few weeks to officially hoist the silver trophy for the first time ever but after Oregon settled things on the field Saturday night against #2 Stanford, it's a matter of when - not if - any more.

Posted on: November 8, 2011 3:03 pm

Keys to the game: Oregon at Stanford

Posted by Bryan Fischer

OREGON WILL WIN IF: The Ducks will have to use their biggest advantage on both sides of the ball, speed, over the much more physical Cardinal team if they're going to come out of Palo Alto with a victory. The offense is close to being healthy with LaMichael James looking like his old self against Washington last week despite a bulky pad over his injured elbow. Unlike some teams, Oregon can run effectively between the tackles and then bounce it outside but only if the offensive line does a good job with the Stanford front four. It will be a test for the secondary against Andrew Luck and his big targets at tight end but something defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti adjusted to last year.

STANFORD WILL WIN IF: The Cardinal are a bit banged up but will receive a big boost with the return of starting safety Delano Howell, who will be key in providing support against both the passing and the running game. Oregon is 62nd in the country in total defense and Stanford should be able to move the ball effectively with running back Stepfan Taylor and the best player in college football in Luck. This game looks like it will turn into an old Pac-10 shootout so getting a key defensive stop or making a big play in special teams will likely be a determining factor in Stanford picking up a win. 

X-FACTOR: Battle in the trenches. Against Washington last week, Oregon's front seven did a great job of blitzing and getting penetration to shut down running lanes and pressure the quarterback. They'll face a stiffer test this week against one of the best offensive lines in college football, which has given up the fewest sacks in the country. On the other side, if Stanford's defensive line can make quarterback Darron Thomas uncomfortable, they could force him into making mistakes.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: November 6, 2011 1:37 am

QUICK HITS: Oregon 34, Washington 17

Posted by Bryan Fischer

OREGON WON. Darron Thomas still wasn't as sharp as Chip Kelly would have liked, overthrowing a few receivers and losing a fumble, but operated the offense efficiently in a hostile environment. LaMichael James enjoyed facing the Washington run defense as he works himself back from injury, rushing for 155 yards and a touchdown in a large elbow brace on a chilly Seattle night.

WHY OREGON WON: No team in the league uses their conditioning to blow by opponents like the Ducks. After just a seven point lead going into the locker room at halftime, the offense turned on the jets and scored 17 points in the third. The Oregon defense also played well, forcing three turnovers and slowing down the Huskies offense with six sacks.

WHEN OREGON WON: Down 31-17 with under four minutes left in the 3rd quarter, Washington came up short on 3rd down. Sensing that the defense couldn't do much to stop the Ducks offense, Steve Sarkisian went for it on 4th-and-4 from midfield but Keith Price was pressured too much and couldn't convert. A field goal on the next drive pushed the Oregon lead to 34-17 and then the defense recovered a fumble on the next Washington series to seal the victory.

WHAT OREGON WON: After Stanford held up their end earlier in the day in Corvallis, Oregon dispatched Washington to take care of theirs and set up a game that essentially decides the Pac-12 Championship. Unlike the Cardinal, who were beaten up by Oregon State and lost several starters, the Ducks stayed fairly healthy and rested several players in the 4th quarter.

WHAT WASHINGTON LOST: The final game in Husky Stadium before it undergoes major renovations. They're still bowl eligible for the second year in a row but a win over the rival Ducks would have been a perfect ending to one of college football's best venues.

THAT WAS CRAZY: LaMichael James topped the 1,000 yard mark to become the first player in school history to record three seasons of at least 1,000 yards. He also scored his 44th rushing touchdown of his career to move him into a tie for 7th place all-time in the Pac-12.

Posted on: November 4, 2011 12:23 pm

PODCAST: On FSU, Big East-West, and Oregon QBs

Posted by Chip Patterson

When Florida State and Boston College were scheduled to play in primetime on Sunday night, it was likely assumed the Seminoles would be in contention for an ACC title and a Eagles squad led by Montel Harris would be ready to pull the upset in Chestnut Hill. But the 38-7 dominating victory by a 6-3 Florida State team was far from must-see television.  Adam Aizer and I discuss the Seminoles and Eagles, who appear to be headed in opposite directions, on Friday's CBSSports.com College Football Podcast.

With the win, FSU extends their 30-season streak of bowl eligibility. With the loss, Boston College ends a 12-year postseason run. We discuss the job security of several ACC coaches, along with a debate on the nation's worst one-loss team. Oregon head coach Chip Kelly (the "other" Chip) says there is no quarterback controversy in Eugene, but his definition seems to differ from Adam's.

Tune in to hear all of these topics, plus our Week 10 game picks and a quick preview of the possible Big East-West on this sunrise edition of the podcast.

Your emails could be read on the next edition of the CBSSports.com College Football Podcast, so send them in to podcast[at]cbsinteractive [dot] com.

Remember, all of the CBSSports.com College Football Podcasts can be downloaded for FREE from the iTunes Store.

You can listen to the podcast in the player below, pop out a player to keep browsing, or download the MP3 right to your computer.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: November 1, 2011 1:39 pm

Keys to the game: Oregon at Washington

Posted by Bryan Fischer

OREGON WILL WIN IF: The Ducks offense has struggled to be consistent and it appears there's a minor quarterback controversy after Darron Thomas was pulled in the second half for backup quarterback Bryan Bennett. LaMichael James is back and Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas have done a great job running the football but Oregon has to get the passing game back on track with Thomas under center. This is likely the Ducks' stiffest test on defense all season but they're going to need the offense in its usual high-scoring mode to win.

WASHINGTON WILL WIN IF: The defense has to make play plays and force a few turnovers. There's no if's, and's or but's about this game, the defense will need to take a major step forward if the Huskies want to win this game. The offense has been great so far this year but the team has been in too many shootouts - a type of game they'll lose against Oregon. Chris Polk will need another monster game and will need to help control the clock and keep it out of the hands of the Oregon offense. This is a big game for Steve Sarkisian but it's an even bigger game for defensive coordinator Nick Holt.

X-FACTOR: Washington is bowl eligible for the second season in a row and the rivalry against Oregon is an underrated one nationally. That should create an electric crowd at Husky Stadium, one of the loudest venues in the Pac-12. If they can capitalize on the home field advantage and force Oregon in to some mistakes early, there's no doubt that Washington has a chance in this one.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com