Tag:Darron Thomas
Posted on: October 18, 2010 10:40 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2010 4:37 am
 

Midseason Report: Pac-10

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The Midseason Report separates the contenders from the pretenders in each conference race, and in the Pac-10, that means cleanly separating its top half from its bottom half ... and wondering if anyone can catch Oregon. Here's what's happened so far and what might happen down the stretch.

1. Oregon (6-0, 3-0) - Jeremiwho Masoli? The Ducks missed the memo that the offseason dismissal of their starting quarterback spelled the end of any national title hopes, blazing to six straight wins by an average margin of 38 points. That’s been good enough to make them the consensus No. 1 team in the polls entering the second half of the season, and for Chip Kelly to confirm (again) that no one has a better offensive mind or more talent for coaching dual-threat quarterbacks. First-year starter Darron Thomas has racked up more than 1,400 total yards in leading the Ducks to the current No. 1 ranking in total offense. But even Thomas can go overlooked next to tailback and Heisman candidate LaMichael James , the nation’s No. 1 rusher at 170 yards per-game. The Duck onslaught has overwhelmed every team unlucky enough to face it so far, including previously undefeated Stanford , who gave up 49 points in the final three quarters and lost by three full scores at Autzen. Don’t pencil the Ducks in for a national title bout just yet, though; they were outgained by 226 yards in their only serious road test to date, at Arizona State , and still have to visit three dangerous teams in USC , Cal , and Oregon State . Where the Pac-10 title is concerned, however, it’ll be a shocker if it winds up anywhere but Eugene.

2. Stanford (5-1, 2-1) - Not many coaches can claim to have done a better job over the past few seasons than Kelly, but Jim Harbaugh might be one of them. His stunning reclamation project in Palo Alto has only picked up speed in 2010 as behind potential No. 1 draft pick Andrew Luck (1,538 passing yards, 16 touchdowns, 65.7 completion percentage), the Cardinal haven’t missed a beat without departed Heisman runner-up Toby Gerhart. UCLA was embarrassed 35-0, Notre Dame bludgeoned 37-14. and USC out-shot 37-35. The 73rd-ranked rush defense could stand to find more consistency, but with Arizona and Oregon State both coming to Stanford Stadium, the Cardinal could nonetheless be favored in their final six games. 10 or even 11 wins are within reach ... though with Oregon holding the head-to-head tiebreaker, it'll take some major help to reach Pasadena.

3. Arizona (5-1, 2-1)
- The Pac-10 has the Wildcats to thank for the conference’s most impressive non-league win to-date, the wire-to-wire 34-27 win over otherwise-undefeated No. 13 Iowa . But Arizona hasn’t been nearly as impressive in conference play, escaping Cal 10-9 on a last-minute touchdown, losing at home to Oregon State 29-27, and sleepwalking past hapless Washington State 24-7. Quarterback Nick Foles has been outstanding, completing better than 75 percent of his passes and averaging 267 yards a game. But now Foles is due to miss three weeks with a knee injury, and the ‘Cats haven’t been able to get key senior running back Nic Grigsby (340 yards this season) on track. With road trips to Stanford and Oregon still to come, Mike Stoops will have to recapture the magic of the Iowa game in a hurry to keep the Wildcats a factor in the Pac-10 race.

4. Oregon State (3-3, 2-1) - Give the Beavers this: no one in the country has played a more difficult schedule. There’s no shame in losing competitive games on the road at top-5 outfits like TCU and Boise State, and not a whole lot in being a two-point conversion away from a thrilling win at Washington . But there’s not that much respect in being only .500, either, even with a big road win at Arizona. And with James Rodgers out for the season, it’s worth asking if the Beavers have enough offensive firepower to hang with anyone in their brutal USC-Stanford-Oregon closing stretch. Still, Mike Riley 's teams usually improve as the season progresses, and quarterback Ryan Katz has shown flashes of brilliance (most notably in the 390 yard upset in Tucson). The Beavers will still have their say in how the Pac-10 ultimately plays out. They always do.

5. USC (5-2, 2-2) - Maybe we should include Washington in this space. After all, the Huskies both beat the Trojans at the Coliseum and stand a half-game ahead of USC in the Pac-10 standings. But it’s hard to take a team that’s lost to a flatly terrible BYU squad and Arizona State (at home!) all that seriously. The Trojans, on the other hand, are two field goals -- one Washington’s, one Stanford’s, both on the final play of the game -- away from being undefeated. And the way Matt Barkley is throwing the ball these days (742 yards, 8 touchdowns, no interceptions the last two weeks) and freshman Robert Woods is catching it (19 receptions, 340 yards, 5 touchdowns those same two weeks), it’s safe to call Lane Kiffin ’s team the one in the Pac-10 that no one would want to play. Just ask Cal. Then again: how dangerous can the Trojans really be if Monte Kiffin ’s 90th-ranked defense doesn’t stop allowing the occasional 500-yard game? USC could upset Oregon in L.A. and enter the final week of the season in contention for a championship, or they could be mathematically eliminated in another two weeks. Anything is possible here.

Prediction: Sorry, Ducks fans: the guess here is that Oregon won't become the first Pac-10 team other than USC to advance to the BCS championship game. Even the best offenses can have off-games on the road, and that defense -- which was gouged for 600 yards in Tempe and another 518 against Stanford -- isn't going to be able to take up the slack. Whether at Los Angeles, Berkeley, or Corvallis, Oregon is due to trip up somewhere.

But they won't trip up twice, which means that they'll still be able to settle for a second straight Pac-10 championship and Rose Bowl berth. Stanford will crack double-digit wins, but it won't be enough, and perhaps maybe not even enough to push the race into the season's final week.

Everyone else? Three conference losses at the minimum, though USC will end the season with a ton of momentum and the consensus honor of being the league's third-best team.



Posted on: October 10, 2010 1:44 am
Edited on: October 10, 2010 3:39 am
 

What I learned from the Pac-10 (Oct. 9)

Posted by Adam Jacobi

1. This conference is Oregon's and nobody else's. The Oregon Ducks didn't look great tonight in their 43-23 win over Washington State -- and they weren't looking great even before Darron Thomas left, either -- but they must be thrilled with the way the rest of the conference shook down tonight. Stanford dispatched USC, and we'll talk about that in a second, and Oregon State knocked Arizona from the ranks of the unbeaten with a 29-27 win. The more the other nine teams of the Pac-10 beat each other up, the easier the Ducks' road to the conference crown becomes. Not like they've needed the help so far.

2. When it matters, USC can't make the stop. Last week, Jake Locker led the Washington Huskies on a last-minute drive against the USC defense, and Erik Folk hit a game-winning field goal to beat the Trojans, 32-31. This week, same scenario: the Trojans score a touchdown to take a 35-34 lead on Stanford with 1:12, and everybody in the stadium knows that's too much time to give Andrew Luck. Sure enough, Stanford drives, Stanford moves the chains over and over, and Luck gets the Cardinal in place with enough time to spare that before the game-winning field goal, Luck had the luxury of running a play where he could down the ball in the middle of the field. Nate Whitaker was true on his kick, and USC found itself on a losing streak. Clearly that can't continue if the Trojans want a better destination than the Emerald Bowl this season.

3. The end zone tackle has got to go. First of all, if you haven't seen the knee injury suffered by James Rodgers, don't. It's gross and heart-breaking. The fact that it came on a tackle in the end zone, two strides past the goal line, only worsens the circumstance. Obviously, Arizona safety Adam Hall was just playing defense and not giving up on the play, but his effort really should have stopped at the strip attempt he made at the goal line--not by dragging Rodgers down five yards in. If the NCAA wants an issue to take up in the offseason, declaring tackling in the end zone after the whistle unnecessary roughness would be a good place to start. 

4. This conference might be Andrew Luck's and Jake Locker's now, but it'll be Ryan Katz's soon. Oregon State's sophomore quarterback Ryan Katz, a first-year starter, is not the best quarterback in the conference. He might get honorable mention. But from Week 1, he's been a surprisingly talented thrower, and he looked as good today against that normally decent Arizona pass defense as he has all season long. Katz had 393 yards and two scores through the air, and he did it without Rodgers for more than 30 minutes of play. As long as Oregon State keeps talented receivers around Katz, he's going to be putting up some huge numbers very soon.

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Posted on: October 9, 2010 8:34 pm
Edited on: October 9, 2010 9:05 pm
 

Oregon's Barner in stable condition after big hit

Posted by Chip Patterson

Oregon running back Kenjon Barner gave the Ducks a scare as he laid motionless on the field after a hard hit on a kick return in the first quarter of Oregon's 43-23 victory over the Washington State Cougars on Saturday in Pullman.  Barner was returning the kick after the Cougars' first touchdown when he got leveled by Washington State cornerback Anthony Carpenter and coughed the ball up deep inside his own 10 yard line.  Barner laid on the field for almost ten minutes before walking himself to the stretcher with some assistance.  He was later transported to the hospital in an ambulance and is currently undergoing tests and listed in stable condition.

The Ducks also lost starting quarterback Darron Thomas to a shoulder injury in the second quarter.  Thomas went to the locker room briefly after the injury, but later returned to the sideline.  Thomas was replaced by backup senior Nate Costa, who finished the game for the Ducks.  Costa completed 13 of 15 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown in the most action he has seen since the season opener against New Mexico.  

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Posted on: October 2, 2010 11:43 pm
Edited on: October 2, 2010 11:44 pm
 

Oregon overcomes deficit to top Stanford 52-31

Posted by Chip Patterson

For a quarter, the Oregon offense was caught with no answers for an inspired Stanford defensive unit.  The Ducks trailed 21-3 at the end of the first 15 minutes of play before things got clicking for the Ducks.  The Cardinal turned turnovers into point, capitalizing on an early interception and fumble recovery to jump out to the early lead.  But once Darron Thomas and LaMichael James got comfortable, the tables turned for Stanford.

Thomas was 20 for 29 for 238 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Ducks, with James adding 257 yards on the ground and three touchdowns himself.  Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck looked sharp when he had a lead to work with, but once they fell behind began to make some mental mistakes and force throws.  Luck remains one of the best quarterbacks in college football, the Oregon defense deserves a lot of credit for their halftime adjustments.  

The Ducks have made a statement to the nation and to themselves, with Stanford behind them it is not unreasonable to start considering the possibilities of Oregon becoming a player in the national title discussion.

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Posted on: October 2, 2010 10:10 pm
 

Stanford leading shootout with Oregon 31-24

Posted by Chip Patterson

Saturday evening's showdown between Oregon and Stanford was predicted to be a shootout, and they have not disappointed, with Stanford leading 31-24 at the break.  The Cardinal dominated early, jumping out to an early 21-3 lead, turning Oregon turnovers into immediate touchdowns and quieting the rowdy Autzen Stadium crowd for the moment.  But Oregon rode the momentum of a recovered onsides kick after their first touchdown to climb back into the game.

Both quarterbacks are on their way to big days statistically.  Darron Thomas has completed 18 of 26 passes for 205 yards and Andrew Luck is 12 of 16 for 145 yards as well.  Stanford's defense stepped up early, holding the Ducks in check and creating turnovers.  The efforts of the defensive unit were complemented nicely with Andrew Luck's effectiveness and efficiency moving the ball.

But as the sun sets in Euguene, Autzen Stadium will get louder, and Andrew Luck will be tested.  If he passes the test, Stanford could find themselves in the driver's seat staring down a road to the Pac-10 title.

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Posted on: September 18, 2010 9:04 pm
 

Oregon's reserves still crushing Portland State

Posted by Adam Jacobi

After three quarters, the Oregon game is 69-0 Oregon. This game is over. It was over at halftime (45-0). It was over at the five-minute mark of the first quarter (21-0). Ohhhh-ver.

And yet there's still 15 minutes to play, and Oregon's still got an offense that's just shredding Portland State, no matter who's in the game. Case in point: even with LaMichael James and Darron Thomas not playing a snap in the second half, Oregon put up 24 points in the third quarter, and they're amassing truly remarkable numbers.

Oregon has 594 yards of total offense through three quarters. That's over a third of a mile. They've rushed for 435 yards--or just a hair short of a quarter-mile. They have 25 first downs... and Portland State has 3.

Now, the only thing left to see is how badly Oregon runs up the score--without even trying to.

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Posted on: September 18, 2010 7:53 pm
Edited on: September 18, 2010 11:38 pm
 

Oregon keeps pouring it on Portland State at half

Posted by Adam Jacobi

The Portland State Vikings are so overmatched. (How overmatched are they?) They're so overmatched that they deserve credit for holding Oregon to a field goal late in the second quarter. OK, that's not a very funny punchline, but considering how woeful the Vikings' efforts have been in keeping Oregon out of the end zone up to this point, they actually do deserve credit. So kudos, Portland State!

Other than that one moment of stout defense, this game has been all about LaMichael James and the Oregon Ducks. James has rushed for 226 yards and two touchdowns on only 14 carries. Quarterback Darron Thomas' stats are equally gaudy: 9-18, 149 yards, and four touchdowns. Oh, and Thomas has 7 rushes for 53 yards of his own.

All in all, the Ducks are taking a 45-0 lead to the locker room, and it would practically be an act of criminal malice to let Oregon's stars take any snaps in the second half.  

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Posted on: September 4, 2010 5:26 pm
Edited on: September 4, 2010 6:08 pm
 

Oregon On Pace To Hit The Century Mark

Posted by Tom Fornelli

At the rate the Oregon Ducks offense is moving against New Mexico this afternoon, they'll soon have more points than possible uniform combinations.  The Ducks have put up 59 points in the first half against the Lobos.  Yes, you read that right. 

59 points .

What's even crazier is that the Ducks have "only" run 51 plays, which means they're averaging 1.16 points per play.

Who needs LaMichael James?

Kenjon Barner has stepped right in and picked up 145 yards on the ground in only 17 carries, with four touchdowns.  He had more yards in one run -- 42 yards -- than New Mexico has managed all game -- 34.  Nobody seems to miss Jeremiah Masoli either as Darron Thomas, Josh Huff and Chad Peppars have combined to complete 14 of 26 passes for 257 yards and two touchdowns.

Really, the only person who seems capable of keeping the Ducks from hanging 100 points on New Mexico is head coach Chip Kelly who you would expect to call off the dogs in the second half.  Though, at the rate they're scoring, they may get there before the end of the third quarter anyway.



 
 
 
 
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